This is the way you bridge the gap between Sales and Operations to sell more.
If you often find yourself thinking, "My salespeople just aren't selling like they used to…" you’re right. Across the board sales people aren't making the numbers as often as they were five years ago - 10% less often to be specific.
How can that be? With mobile devices, CRM systems and improved sales methodologies you’d think that sales people would be better equipped to sell more than ever before.
The CSO Insights research went deeper and found that the top performing salespeople had one thing in common: a formally managed and measured sales process and an implemented (and used) CRM system.
But I would challenge that and say that’s simply not enough - particularly for field sales (or outbound sales) reps.
CRM systems fall short in delivering the data and tools field sales reps need to sell.
CRM systems provide customer and sales data, but fall short in providing field sales reps with easy access to accurate product, pricing and stock information and the ability to act on that data, such as the ability to place orders via the same interface immediately.
It may sound like a tall order, but for a field sales rep to sell effectively they need:
1) Access to accurate information about products, the latest pricing and stock
2) Ability to act on that data, e.g. provide quotes or submit orders
Sure, some of you lucky ones may already have that. Cloud computing and mobile devices have pushed ERP and CRM systems and their functionality into the palm of sales reps’ hands while in the field. However, it’s usually via two separate applications or interfaces. What’s the problem with that?
The problem is there’s a gap that’s preventing sales people from selling optimally while in the field.
Bridging the gap between ERP and CRM
Although most ERP systems may already include a CRM module, the two remain two separate applications for sales people on the road. Field sales reps need a single interface they can use to access data and functionality in both systems instead of jumping between two different applications on their mobile device.
Why is there a gap? ERP systems focus on the enterprise (Enterprise Resource Planning). CRM systems focus on the customer (Customer Relationship Management) and on acquiring and retaining them. Neither of them focuses entirely on the field sales rep and their requirements to sell effectively in the field.
What they need is a mobile sales app that is integrated with your ERP and CRM systems to bridge the gap between the two. This kind of solution gives field sales reps access to accurate product and customer information, pricing, and inventory information, and allows them to take orders and submit them for approval in real-time while on the road. This kind of capability does 5 things:
1) Reduces the turn-around time between order submission and invoicing the customer, thus improving cash flow and customer experience
2) Improves order accuracy, thus reducing frustration levels among sales people, finance and customers
3) Increases the degree of accurate data being captured in the field and submitted to a central database
4) Reduces the amount of admin required for them to sell and report on their sales and sales activities
5) Improves a manager’s insight into sales activity in the field
Giving sales access to your ERP
Key to bridging the gap between sales and the rest of your business is giving sales reps access to data stored in your ERP system. However, when your ERP system is the primary data source for your business even thinking about giving access to sales reps is pretty terrifying.
The good news is that it’s possible to give access to data without permitting anyone to change it.
The best news is that the benefits of creating a single view of the whole company regardless of whether you are a sales person, a debtors clerk or a warehouse manager will mean more sales and better business.
I know, from years of talking to customers, that providing sales reps with that one common point of access to your ERP and CRM systems delivers various benefits. It lets salespeople send quotes, raise invoices, and submit orders from the field. It improves the quality of the data stored in your ERP and CRM systems. It gives you better insight into sales activities, customer relationships and even the market and competitors. Above all, it helps you sell more by bridging the gap between sales and operations.