Another year draws to a close. We reflect on triumphs and debacles; we throw out the old and unwrap the new. Businesses riding the 4IR train will note that it keeps chugging, taking them on down the line.
Those still in the station might have realised by now that they are standing still, while their peers are getting farther away.
Salesforces are especially vulnerable to the “good year/bad year” dichotomy. “Why is that company doing so much better that ours? We have a CRM system; we paid a lot of money for it. Why have so many prospects evaporated?”
Legacy CRM methodologies were, in retrospect, myopic. They were obsessively focused on the productivity of the sales function – number of leads, number of prospects, number of calls, emails, closures; numbers, numbers, numbers.
Everything was about the health and vigour of the pipeline, with little thought for how much value was being delivered to buyers. Apparently, we forgot what the “R” in “CRM” stood for.
Such an approach may have made sense 10, even five, years ago. It is, after all, tempting to run a business around the metrics you want to optimise. But does it not make more sense to build lasting, meaningful relationships with customers?
It has almost become a meme among sales professionals that it costs up to 10 times to win over a new customer than to sell to an existing one. And loyal customers spend an average of 67% more than new ones.
That is why, in the age of digital transformation, architects of sales strategies around the world – and right here in the Middle East – are spending some time on empowering sales executives to build rapport with their customers. “Forget raw productivity for a moment,” they muse, “and consider the returns of understanding the buyer’s journey.”
This approach recognises that a greater percentage of prospects each year are digital natives. They know just as much about products as salespeople do. The basics, such as having items in stock and delivering efficiently, are no longer differentiators.
Today, you must know a customer’s woes, share their experiences and predict their needs.
This is relationship selling – the new CRM methodology that brings together AI, workflow automation and holistic data management to create personalised experiences for customers and the ability to build lasting relationships at scale.
An emphasis on engagement has a proven positive impact on sales ROI. Microsoft research shows that companies embracing engagement are 2.3 times more likely to deliver on quotas.
These organisations deeply understand their customer base. Way back when, a buyer would ride into town on their horse and ask around for the best place to buy beans, rope… or a new horse. Sales were made on word of mouth.
The emergence of marketing obfuscated this process for a few decades, but the word-of-mouth model has made a comeback. And now, buyers have access to all-but-perfect information. Their engagement is often digital, so the cost and inconvenience of going to a competitor is negligible. If you fail to understand their needs; if you fail to appreciate the stage they have reached in the buying process; if you fail to serve them as an individual – prepare to lose a sale.
A Forrester poll tells us that 42% of the most customer-obsessed B2B companies out there grew 10% during FY2016. So, ask yourself: what will your salesforce be doing on New Year’s Eve 2019? Celebrating, or lamenting? Will you have boarded the train, or bedded down in the station? What do we do at the end of the year? We throw out the old and bring in the new. Relationship selling is the future of sales.
Dynamics 365 for Sales and Customer Service delivers the scalability, agility and access to AI and automated workflow needed to deliver relationship selling. It makes it’s home in the trusted, intelligent, secure Microsoft Cloud, and its Common Data Model allows cutting-edge analytics to build rich views of the customer journey, so your sales force can identify, nurture and convert leads, and sell at scale. Help your customers to buy, rather than pushing your employees to sell.
Keith Fenner, Dynamics 365 Business group director, Microsoft Middle East & Africa
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