Last week I had the pleasure of attending the 2014 LIMRA Annual Meeting in New York City. As anticipated, the event was full of thought-provoking discussions around today’s evolving “social sharing” culture and leveraging big data for marketing, illuminating a commitment to market shifts in the financial services industry.
Sessions such as Predictive Analytics, Customer Centricity, and Using Data to Sell More, coupled with the conversations I had with other attendees, built upon some previously foreseen challenges and trends affecting the industry. Namely, because organizations in this industry are faced with mounting pressures to adapt to an increasingly expert and mobile consumer, the demands for company-wide restructure in the form of modernizing sales processes and embracing IT infrastructure flexibility is growing. In short, the financial services industry is fast advancing and embracing the need for change.
So what exactly is being done? What’s helping to facilitate the call for transformation? For starters, companies in this market are finally either investigating or rolling out modernized CRM initiatives by implementing Salesforce.com. This is a good thing – and most certainly a necessary step to consolidating masses of dispersed data (aka one of the many remedies to healing a broken sales process). But in doing so, these organizations must also keep in mind a realistic and valuable goal: bridging the gap between strategy and sales execution.
By shifting their distribution infrastructure to support improvements in the sales process, there are three initiatives that are crucial to eventual success: streamlining complexity with products, taking on strategies to shorten the sales cycle, and planning for growth with scalable selling systems. These are all more easily achievable following a Salesforce.com implementation, but not without avoiding some key pitfalls.
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Here at Qvidian we work with over 1,200 customers – about a third of which are in financial services – that were at one point faced with this very dilemma – let’s call it the unfulfilled promise of CRM. CRM has evolved into a critical back-end system for data capturing, yet better selling and more accurate forecasting is a whole different ball game. Data is just data after all, and CRM alone does not have the power to help sales reps close more deals. It all really boils down to thinking differently about what’s possible with CRM and selling. Avoiding some common pitfalls is a great start to making the best of your Salesforce.com investment and a smooth transition to successful sales execution – especially for companies that are early in their CRM rollout.
As experts in the space, we leverage our experience of other industries and organizations to help unlock the value of their investments. We’re here to help – so here are some must-know pitfalls to avoid to guide you on your way to effective selling.
What to consider when rolling out Salesforce.com:
Don’t forget about your reps
This might seem like an obvious one, but you’d be surprised how during a SFDC implementation, technical capabilities and workflows overshadow the needs of your most critical users – your sales reps.
But CRM is only as effective as the data within it, and if your most important users, your sellers, don’t find it easy to use, then they will resist entering and maintaining the information needed to leverage the data effectively.
You have to remember the WIIFM – ‘what’s in it for me’ – from the rep perspective so there is value added to them for using the system. If it’s for compliance only, you’ll end up with stale data and poor ROI.
Don’t just use it as another database
When CRM first entered the landscape, there were promises of it improving how you sell, allowing you to close more deals, know more about your customers, and so on. Don’t be surprised if your CRM falls short here.
CRM is a critical back-end system, but lacks the ability to make any of the data actionable and useful. Salesforce.com has been wise in knowing this fact from the beginning and supporting their network of AppExchange partners who fill those gaps.
By taking advantage of complimentary products, you can make your Salesforce.com data actionable and useful to do what you are looking to do – close more deals.
Don’t use it in a vacuum
While valuable, implementing Salesforce.com is not cheap. Not only do you have subscription costs, but you’ve probably engaged in services to help you implement and rollout your instance.
Add to that training costs for your existing staff or headcount for new staff to help maintain and manage it moving forward – and it’s a substantial investment for organizations. And you’ve already invested (probably a lot) in training, compliance certifications, enablement tools, collateral, and other tools and systems to help your sellers execute better.
To ensure you get the most return on not just your CRM, but all investments, you need to make sure you don’t use it in a vacuum. If you haven’t aggregated these into a single, streamlined place for reps to access, they will become frustrated and not use what’s available to them – leaving you open to risk that they are not following the right process, using the right content, or worse – not presenting the company appropriately to consumers. Nevermind the poor return on not only your CRM, but all your existing investments.
You’ve done your due diligence. You have all the right resources and support needed for a successful rollout. If you avoid those common pitfalls, you’ll be way ahead of the game and will not only see value from Salesforce.com sooner, but your Salesforce.com will end up being a real competitive advantage.