The sales function is a results driven business, success or failure is black or white – which of course is a good thing. Success however in this context is often a trailing indicator, we tend to report what has happened in the past, most of the tools we use are not able to predict what will happen, they just report on what has happened. We report that we have or haven’t achieved the monthly target but we often don’t have visibility ahead of time of the important indicators that will make or break the target.
Being at the sharp end of the business we need to be better able to predict demand and forecast sales accurately. Once we have the full picture in real-time we can start to manage any exceptions to the plan. The better we are at managing the exceptions, the better the success of sales will lead inevitably to the success of the business.
We do have enterprise apps like CRM that enables us to deliver visibility of the sales process at scale. In fact, 92% of businesses now have a CRM system implemented but adoption rates are typically low, use is inconsistent and fragmented. Typically less than 50% of the functionality of CRM systems is ever used and research has shown that many sales people would happily trade in a lot of the excess functionality for systems that are just easier to use. CRM tools are not user centric, they are hard to use and were never designed for a mobile world or for the benefit of the individual sales person.
One of the core problems is that it often takes too many steps to achieve what is needed. For example, the mobile CRM application used in Capriza makes us scroll through between 11 and 17 screens on our phones to input one business critical piece of data that drives the forecast. Because of all this clutter, updating the system is not done in real-time but is left to a once a week batch update, resulting in details being missed or forgotten and information not being provided to the business in a timely fashion.
To start to solve these problems we need to think about how we make it easy for the sales teams to use the systems and achieve a better and more consistent adoption of the CRM. We need to think about how we can give sales teams other mobile capabilities that will make them more informed and productive. It might make sense to provide visibility to other back end enterprise systems that make sales more prepared for meetings ahead of time, for example customer services systems (so that they know about any outstanding customer issues), production systems (so that they know potential delivery times) and finance systems (so that they know if clients have paid or if they owe money). Creating a bespoke micro app for CRM with visibility of elements of other enterprise back end systems will ensure they are prepared better and can provide sales information in real-time.
Increased real-time usage of CRM systems will give better visibility to management of where the problems or gaps in the forecast will be. We can use this information for exception based management to help decision making and drive greater success. For example real-time updates can alert senior management of a sudden forecast drop enabling them to manage and resolve situations ahead of time. Management by exceptions is a technique whereby only significant deviations from a plan are brought to the attention of management ensuring that management are only focused on what needs action at any time. By incrementally working on each exception (anything that falls outside the norm of expectations) sales managers are able to keep sales teams on track and the business happy. The key to proactive exception management is in having the information at our fingertips for fast decision making.
1. Knowing before the exception occurs that something is not going in the right direction
2. Being able to drill down into the data to see the detail – the devil is in the detail
3. Giving your team access to the data that is relevant to them so that they can manage their own exceptions before you even see them and they get escalated
The Capriza platform enables the simplification, automation and mobilisation of specific CRM tasks as micro apps from within the existing underlying system. These micro apps can be delivered on any device, at anytime and anywhere, without impacting the core CRM. The result is an empowered sales team motivated to use the CRM and provided with the information to make decisions. They have the ability to see and manage exceptions to plan before they become a management issue. The platform enables the design of micro apps that can be developed incrementally to highlight exceptions, when the numbers do not meet the plan and ensures that all the people that need to know this information are informed and that they are armed with the tools to do something pro-active about it.
Making our CRM systems more user centric will improve system adoption and productivity. It will ensure that information is provided to the business in a timely fashion and will better enable sales to forecast exceptions and make decisions. Most importantly it will provide usable information to make real-time sales decisions and manage any exceptions to plan - with no nasty surprises.
By Russell Acton, VP and General Manager, International at Capriza. Russell is responsible for running International Business and has held various leadership positions over the last 25 years in high-tech industries.