08 Nov. 2017
CRM software in sales has a well established basic element set, but innovators such as salesforce CRM add futuristic functions every year. The hottest topic is the application of artificial intelligence (AI) in sales, but first let see the key non AI related new developments of last years.
Mobile app is a must have piece of a CRM system. First of all it should be capable of showing customer information (collected in CRM or in any other administrative software of a company) in a very easy to consume manner and show push messages in case of a detected special situation, for example if a contract has to be renewed soon or if the revenue of a client is decreased significantly compared to a prior period. It has to assist in the organization and administration of the communication activities (calls, emails, meetings) done on the field.
In most industries field sales professional must enter client information, update records and even manage transactions. Logging a new lead, configuring a solution, creating an offer or a contract, run a face to face customer survey are not rare in mobile implementations of CRM.On top of these the most advanced CRM software enables the easy roll out of user company specific custom functions and works offline too.
Behaviour monitoring and automatic communication with prospects
Web tracking technology enables the monitoring of what prospective customers do on the companies websites and how actively they read and click on links on email campaigns. Companies with intelligently set marketing activities can provide sales with information if a prospect is highly engaged and is for example looking at a particular product page on the web. The system can alert the salesperson real time and sales can act.
Cold prospects can be automatically nurtured by systems sending relevant emails time to time, without the active work and attention of the salesperson. Modern CRM systems monitor the reactions and modify the campaign accordingly (people not interested get nothing), people clicking on particular links in emails can be presented to sales as a more interesting prospect.
The internal communication of sales teams and other contributing people within the company are crucial to most sales organizations. The way social people communicate on social media (messages, mobile push, likes, shares, automatic alerts on message walls) moved into CRM. Advanced CRM systems provide with the whole toolset within enabling salespeople to ask each other, share news or hot information, share sales assets (market analysis, competitive information, cheat sheets etc.) and communicate in public chats sharing information quickly and widely within the organization. On top of that messages within CRM are organized not only on message walls of users, but also on the level of the transaction, record (e.g. account, opportunity), they relate to. Also systems can log messages automatically on message walls (e.g. win alert) if needed.
Many companies selling complex products widen the reach of these social communities to partners and customers involving them in active product and service related communication.
In many industries clients not only research online, but also expect the option to configure a product, get a quote and order either online, or with collaboration (in person or phone), with the salesperson. Modern CRM infrastructure enables the sales and the client to collaborate on configurations (sales and client can access the same config) quotes or orders, both accessing the same functions and transaction, but with different possibilities and rights.
CRM systems tried to support communication with the clients from the first moment, but user experience was poor. The news is, that a good CRM enables sales to send an email from the client screen, start a call and log its content, set up a meeting and take notes on the meeting, create tasks to themselves or others. Naturally the history of all this on contact or client level is presented in a very easy to consume way. Also the integration of calendaring and emailing is now easier and smoother.
Artificial intelligence (AI) in sales
Artificial intelligence is under the process to be used daily nearly everywhere. Most serious CRM vendors started to work on application of these new technologies to support sales. The currently widely available specific use is the following.
Self learning lead scoring
Companies running intense digital market usually end up with many leads and as a result the necessity to detect the ones most probable to close. Traditionally, this was based on the analytics of collected data with preset rules. Self learning AI in CRM automatically analyses every information – values in fields, associated metadata etc. – related to leads and learns to detect the valuable ones. After the learning process each new lead gets a score showing the probability to close. The logic used by AI is always presented to the user too.
CRM forecasting with AI
Traditional CRM forecasting is a process in which the sales team provides win probability (percentage or category) information on each opportunity and based on this the CRM software is calculating the forecasted revenue for a future period. This is a crucial process for many organizations, because it enables to intervene in situations, where the forecast and the target do not match. The issue with the traditional process is poor accuracy. Even huge organizations with high opportunity numbers often end up with a forecasted revenue, which is later not matched with actual numbers.
AI based forecasting is teaching itself based on all related information (data and metadata) of past opportunities and calculates the forecast automatically. We have seen forecast accuracy increase from 70% to 95%.
Opportunity insights based on communication details
Modern CRM uses the magic of AI to provide valuable information for sales based on the content of emails and call logs. Frequency and text of communication material is analysed automatically and words suggesting characteristics are translated into information. If for example emails contain more words with negative sentiment the sales is alerted, that the opportunity probably goes the wrong direction.
Opportunity insight based on public information
AI is capable of continuously analysing news and other public information sources and alert sales about probable major facts. An example is sales software alerting the sales about a potential acquisition to happen at an account based on the fact news is published with important related wording.
Email insights and automatic data entry
Data entry is understandably not the most popular activity independently of the CRM in use. AI algorithms are being introduced in this area too. First related functions create and update contacts automatically taking information from emails and also adds contacts to opportunities automatically.
Important emails are also automatically detected by some CRM systems and sales get alerts.
There is surely more to come in this area, because one of the key elements of AI is natural language processing, which enables also language translated into data.
This is an ongoing process, so there is many more to come.
The way CRM solutions supports sales isn't rocket science. Basic CRM functionality have matured over the last 25 years.
The way CRM solutions supports sales isn't rocket science. Basic CRM functionality have matured over
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