No sales team is an island. And yet some businesses tend to treat their sales teams as though they exist in a vacuum.
This type of approach leads to a host of missed opportunities. Why? Because sales programs have a lot to teach their enterprises. In fact, any company that fails to recognize and implement the lessons offered up by its sales programs does so at the risk of stalling communications (at the very least) and possibly even setting back production (at worst).
But for smarter, more agile companies open to strategic integration, there’s hope. For these savvy businesses, a simple shift in consciousness and commitment can be leveraged to connect sales programs to overarching enterprise applications, allowing for greater visibility across the board and providing added advantages that can enhance processes and increase revenue.
The following are three best-practice tips for expanding visibility and supporting better business operations using a well-rounded plan for sales program and data integration.
1. Marry your existing CRM to a broader SE system.
With a reported 91 percent of businesses with 11 or more employees making use of a customer relationship management (CRM) platform, it’s likely your company already has a CRM in place. And rightly so. At its most fundamental, a CRM holds basic data about each of your consumers: from name, to address, to purchase history. This information can be used to:
- Segment customers by region to support product campaigns and streamline shipping operations.
- Trace sales activity to identify consumer needs/pain points and help improve products and messaging.
- Reveal purchase patterns that can inform new hires, yearly scheduling, and distribution plans.
But the CRM also represents a huge amount of potentially critical insight––insight that will largely remain untapped without the help of a robust sales enablement (SE) platform.
Embedding your CRM within a wider-ranging SE system can take CRM data to the next level, synthesizing its stores of buyer information and checking it against crucial engagement data to give teams a broader sense of who’s interacting with company outreach materials, when, and for how long. The resulting intel helps all departments (from sales to C suite) get in sync regarding appropriate brand messaging and tone, while simultaneously highlighting the kinds of products and marketing/awareness strategies that are most likely to resonate with a buyer audience.
2. Push your Cloud to the limit.
As MBT has noted previously, the Cloud is an essential component of any company’s data storage strategy:“Cloud computing is where all data from the IIoT devices is gathered and processed in a centralized location. Any devices that need access to this data, or need to use any applications that use it, must first connect to the Cloud. The Cloud offers access to computer system resources on-demand, in particular data storage and computing power.” - Narasimham Parimi for MBT.
Cloud services place data in a secure, controlled environment that’s both readily navigable and easily monitored. Due to its versatility and scope, the Cloud can serve as a Swiss-Army-knife of information with the ability to manage an extended spectrum of functions: from basic workflows to asset control.
It follows, then, that integrating sales materials and data (such as content housed within a content management system, or CMS) into your existing Cloud services can only make your operations go more smoothly. Unsure exactly how? Just consider these possibilities:
- Marketing and sales assets accessible via Cloud repositories become instantly searchable, making for easy company review and editing wherever and whenever necessary (in terms of alignment, compliance, and accuracy).
- Information regarding sales spend, performance, and efficacy becomes clearly viewable and can help simplify supply chain operations (more on this below).
- Team members frequently kept out of the loop on marketing campaigns and sales “pushes” can be provided with ample warning on upcoming rollouts and target quotas.
3. Use your centralized sales data to your advantage, today and tomorrow.
As hinted in #2, the sheer wealth of data afforded via a comprehensive Cloud system can vastly improve your company oversight measures. Indeed, as SupplyChainBrain observes, the simple act of collecting data in this way can “improve shipment transparency and visibility, operational efficiency, and products and services.”
For example: CRM and POS data made available via the Cloud can help mission-critical forecasting and analysis platforms assess supply and demand and offer guidance on decisions in areas such as inventory, delivery operations, pricing, supply mapping, and even logistics negotiations. In addition, company members who often exist outside of typical marketing and sales content creation (such as product managers) can use centralized Cloud systems to access valuable information regarding:
- How products/product lines are being marketed and when.
- How these sales messages are being used/disseminated by sellers.
- How customers are receiving these messages.
- Whether there are knowledge gaps that need filling among revenue-facing teams to help improve branding and boost sales.
This data can also provide much-needed perspective on overall sales cycles, helping to better facilitate processes such as product launches and paving the way for more efficient communications among teams.
It’s arguable that company success depends on a composite strategy that blends sales programs (and their subsequent data) with enterprise-wide applications that enable business functions on a much larger scale. Thoughtful integration of “micro” sales solutions and data with existing “macro” enterprise systems allows for an unprecedented marriage of information and offers extended capabilities that can ultimately prove critical to the health of your entire organization.
Start by onboarding a sales enablement platform and syncing sales data into your cross-company Cloud systems. The resulting visibility can help make the case for further cultural and practical integrations designed to get the most out of your current sales programs.