Research analysts and, of course, CRM software vendors are quick to highlight how the CRM market is the largest and fastest-growing enterprise software category. Gartner tells us that, in 2020 alone, the worldwide CRM software market grew by 12.6 per cent to reach $69 billion. So, when it comes to CRM success rates, the stats are somewhat shocking: various analyst reports put the number of failed projects anywhere between 18 and 69 per cent.
But why? The primary reason for failure is that CRM systems are primarily used for ‘management reporting’. In other words, they are used to report on revenue progress, improve the accuracy of forecasts, or provide senior management with visibility over deals. They are not typically focused on creating an improvement in the selling process. What’s more, front-line salespeople (and their line managers) rarely find ‘management reporting’ of any use when it comes to winning more business.
As a result, sales teams often loath their CRM systems. For them it requires a lot of time and effort to input information that is of little to no value. This leads many businesses to go over budget on resources and training in an attempt to increase adoption.
Even worse, it can skew decision-making as intel travels up the chain of command; there is little incentive for sales professionals to keep up with the data entry requirements, which results in poor quality data within the CRM. Incomplete or inaccurate information is then used as the basis for each level of management to make vital business decisions.
The good news?
CRM is not a throwaway investment. Far from it. The advent of a new technology is finally unlocking its potential to support sales teams and help them, amongst other things, to improve win rates.
Currently, CRM systems are seen by sales reps as ‘passive’ tools that bring nothing to their selling efforts. However, if they could add direct value, management would, in turn, get all the metrics and forecast information they desire. So, how can this be achieved?
The answer lies in making the CRM system an active participant in the selling process. There are countless examples in our personal lives where advanced technologies are guiding us to destinations and goals better and faster. Just look at Waze or Tesla.
Now, for the first time, it’s possible for a business’s CRM system to guide sales reps with insights and next best actions. Intelligence is built from multiple input signals, including comprehensive data in sales behaviours. This can be combined with the sales activity history already resident in the CRM system to recommend the ‘most impactful’ next deal action. It can also point out to reps the actions that might harm a deal. For management, this means measurable sales performance, clear KPIs, and obvious ROI.
This ‘guided selling’ capability has only been possible since the emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and, specifically, ‘deep learning’ algorithms that have emerged in the last few years. These advances allow for rapid learning. They also take into consideration time-sequenced information, which is critical for sales.
The change from ‘passive’ CRM to ‘active’ guided selling encourages sales reps to enter more information into the system. After all, the more information reps can record, the smarter the system becomes. Insights and suggestions are refined from every historical win and loss, and the results speak for themselves; using solutions such as Cloudapps’ sales effectiveness and accuracy platform, enterprises are reporting a 24 per cent increase in win rates and 60 per cent more selling time.
Until this point, the CRM system has been considered by sales reps as just technology – a drain on their time. With the rise of AI and guided selling, however, it becomes an active participant in the selling process. A tool the reps will not want to put down.