CRM Optimization — Expand CRM Value and Increase Sales Results


  • Sales is a constant work in progress. Customer demands are fluid, competitors are disruptive and management always wants more from the sales organization. So, even when sales programs are working, it's smart to be improving.
  • Customer relationship management software is often an under-utilized technology. Research published in the CRM Benchmark Report found that companies, on average, use less than 26% of their application capabilities. That leaves a lot of potential to use more of the technology you already have to ratchet up top line revenues and sales growth.
  • There are proven techniques and best practices advance CRM software to improve the most important sales outcomes.

5 Ways to Advance Sales Results by Advancing Your CRM Software

For too many companies, their Customer Relationship Management system has been implemented so managers can track sale opportunities and produce the sales forecast report. Two important tasks for sure. But only a small portion of the application capabilities.

CRM optimization is the process of using more of your technology to drive improved business performance. For the sales team, that means more technology enablement to increase salesperson productivity, sales conversions, customer share and revenue growth.

Here are 5 ways to use your CRM application to accelerate the most important sales outcomes as well as user adoption, software utilization and technology ROI.


Sales & Marketing Alignment for Accelerated Lead-to-Revenue Performance

The salesforce wants more and better leads. Marketing wants revenue attribution credit. They both get what they want when they achieve sales and marketing alignment. This best practice is facilitated when CRM software integrates the lead acquisition, lead management and lead conversion processes for both marketing and sales organizations.

Sales and Marketing Alignment

When CRM software calculates lead scores, automatically transfers sales-ready leads to the salesforce, measures lead-to-opportunity duration and conversions, returns stalled leads to marketing for nurturing and measures both sales and marketing performance results pursuant to a Service Level Agreement, companies reduce the hidden but very real lead leakage problem, grow the sales pipeline and increase sales conversions.

And they grow company revenues. Forrester Research reports that companies with aligned sales and marketing departments achieved an average of 32 percent annual revenue growth while less aligned companies reported an average 7 percent revenue decline.

“B2B companies inability to align sales and marketing costs 10 percent or more of annual revenue.”


Sales Methodologies to Increase Sales Conversions

CRM software can sequence sales steps but it’s not going to improve your selling. Well, that is, unless you integrate a sales methodology within the application.

A sales methodology aligns the sellers sales process with the buyers purchase process and shifts the selling strategy from what you sell to how you sell. Below is illustration for the Challenger Sale methodology.

Challenger Sale Process

Research published in the Sales Excellence Report shows that sellers with optimized sale methodologies achieve an 11% higher sales win rate than those with informal sales methods.

Even better, sales success is further improved when an optimized sale methodology is integrated with a predictable sales process and CRM technology. These three components create the sales trifecta and increase sales win rates 6% above sale methodologies alone.

According to authors Michael Nick and Bob Kantin in their book, Why Johnny Can't Sell, sales reps that use a formal sales method are up to 40% more successful than those who do not.


Strategic Account Management to Grow Customer Share

The CRM system has lots of customer data. But that data has little value until it is organized and contributes to a business goal.

Growing existing customer share and customer lifetime value is a very important business goal that can be enabled with CRM software and customer data.

For most companies, a minority of customers deliver the majority of company revenues and profits. These customers are the company’s strategic accounts. And even with their larger spend, they offer plenty of upside growth if correctly pursued.

Strategic Account Management (SAM) is a proven approach to increase revenues and customer share from key accounts. It also contributes to deeper customer relationships and increased customer retention.

You can configure your CRM to aid SAM with a strategic account plan that identifies future sale opportunities, sequences actions to realize those opportunities and applies customer data to make the plan highly personalized, relevant and contextual.

Strategic Account Plan

The Account Plan is a system generated and dynamic forecast that aligns products or services with the customer’s vision and goals. It identifies potential upsell and cross-sell opportunities over an extended horizon to help customers achieve their evolving priorities.


Use CRM to Improve Salesperson Productivity

Most sales reps opine that they spend more time on administrative activities and internal meetings than selling. Most sales managers agree but are unsure how to take care of activities and permit salespeople to spend more time engaging customers.

There is no single response, but there is a proven 3 step answer. Business process design, CRM automation and sales analytics are the three tools to save sales reps time, reallocate time from low to higher value activities, and increase sales productivity.

There's no sense in automating processes before they are effective, so business process (re)design is a precursor to the other two. Popular tools that bring structure and acceleration to this activity include Agile Value Stream Mapping and the Component Business Model.

Your CRM software can then be applied to automate sales processes and deliver sales analytics. Most default CRM dashboards look good but don’t get sustained adoption because they deliver generic information. But these dashboards can be easily modified to deliver buyer digital footprints, sale opportunity insights, competitive intelligence and much more, which then makes them indispensable.

Sales Dashboard

A good CRM dashboard helps sellers prioritize information based on what's most important at any point in time. It displays exactly what should be done, in a sequenced order, to aid time management, create a work rhythm cadence and maximize productivity.


Use CRM AI for Guided Selling

Artificial Intelligence can automate and bring prescriptive insights and recommendations to sales strategy execution, sale opportunity actions, sales cycle interventions, revenue leakage, price optimization and a myriad of other sales programs.

AI provides the intelligence for guided selling. It fuels guided sales processes that replicate the actions of the top producers so that other sellers can achieve similar results. AI algorithms can suggest highly relevant and personalized Next Best Offer (NBO) recommendations, such as upsell or cross-sell recommendations, or next best action based on sales cycle dynamics.

AI for Sales

AI is the technology to shift CRM from being a repository of data to a provider of data-driven automation and insights. Data is the fuel, AI is the engine, and insights are the destination.

The Point is This

The CRM 2.0 movement applies CRM optimization techniques and best practices to advance the software for continuous improvements to user objectives such as productivity and personal performance outcomes; customer objectives such as improved customer experiences; and business objectives such as increased customer acquisitions, share and retention.

The 5 examples in this post are intended to show how optimizing CRM software can deliver significant and sustained sales performance improvements. But these are only 5 examples. There are dozens more to explore. Things like social selling (i.e., using social tools and channels to engage buyers), configure-price-quote automation, omni-channel customer engagement, internal collaboration tools and mobility to name only a few.