If your sales team had a less-than-stellar 2017, then you might want to invest in better customer relationship management (CRM) and telephony solutions. A survey conducted by market research group Opinion Matters on behalf of NewVoiceMedia, revealed a staggering gulf between the information that should be available to sales representatives and the information they actually have when conducting routine prospect and lead calls.
Perhaps the most damning statistic in the survey, which polled 1,006 self-identified sales professionals who use a CRM system, is that six percent don't even have the most basic telephonic technology: caller ID. This means that sales reps are answering calls without any foreknowledge and then trying their best to round up prospect information while either putting the prospect on hold or while conducting the call.
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"It's a gross oversight and could be costly," the report states. "The CRM system is a storehouse of customer information, but what good is it for the sales team if they can't quickly and easily identify customers during the most basic interactions? Customers today demand personalized interactions. Identifying a customer is an obvious first step."
Less than half of the sales reps (42 percent) polled have the tech in place to identify corresponding previous interactions while on the phone with prospects. So, unlike bleeding-edge companies that provide sales reps with a complete interaction history (as the phone number is registered by the CRM tool), these reps have to try to piece together a prospect's history with the company by using informal notes and by searching through emails.
More than one in four sales professionals (27 percent) don't work for companies that have interactive voice or touchtone response set up, which means that human receptionists (or, God forbid, other sales reps) have to route calls to the proper sales rep. Think of how long this manual process could take, especially on busier days, and think of the amount of human error or sabotage that could occur. Companies such as NewVoiceMedia and our Editors' Choice telephony tool RingCentral offer intelligent call routing as a basic feature in their most basic packages.
"The sales profession is changing rapidly," the report states. "Tech has paved new paths for buying and selling goods and services. In just a few decades, people have shifted from pen-and-paper sales tactics to automated systems of prospecting, lead curation, and deal tracking. Tech that was considered cutting-edge in the 1990s and early 2000s now feels archaic."
After the Call
Once sales reps can successfully conduct a call, 68 percent will need to manually update their CRM record. This manual and repetitive data entry is a process that, on average, takes each sales rep a whopping 32 minutes a day. Doesn't sound like much does it? But those 32 minutes add up to a staggering 17 complete workdays at the end of the year.
If your company hasn't implemented voice dialing, then think about how much time is wasted entering digits into your phones' dialpads. The average salesperson spends 28 minutes a day manually entering phone numbers. At the end of the year, that's another 15 workdays wasted typing information into systems.
"Time is money. And salespeople waste a remarkable amount of time on things that seem rather innocuous in the short term. Simple things like dialing a phone can eat away seconds, minutes, hours, and days," the report states. "Combine that with the time it takes to manually update the CRM and you can start to see how these administrative tasks can syphon off profits."
Perhaps as a way to surmount the lack of information and context provided by their companies, 54 percent of respondents said they interact with prospects on Facebook on a daily basis. And 12 percent said they use Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter to interact with prospects daily. These channels offer sales reps with at least some opportunity to find data to make pitches more relevant and accessible to prospects. See that Jim has gone on a ski trip with his family recently? You can discuss that with Jim on Facebook Messenger. Even this tiny bit of interaction data is more useful than the big nothing-burger 42 percent of companies are offering their sales reps prior to calls.
"Despite vast amounts of customer and prospect data available, sales reps are failing to use data-driven insights and personalization to close more deals," writes Jonathan Gale, CEO of NewVoiceMedia, in the report. "We have entered a new era of sales that requires a more intelligent and genuine approach to engaging and connecting with today's customers and prospects...By better understanding customers and prospects, and strategically using that data to connect with them, sales teams will be able to bridge these gaps and positively influence the entire sales journey."
Unfortunately, most of the respondents were skeptical of their companies' willingness to make changes to how their CRM and telephony systems integrate. Sixty-five percent said they believe the cost of integrating CRM and telephony (or even making an initial investment) is the top obstacle. Thirty-five percent of respondents said their companies are afraid any tech upgrade will take too long to implement, while 27 percent said their company doesn't think it's even worth the expense to upgrade.