6 Ways Technology Can Supercharge Your Sales Process

6 Ways Technology Can Supercharge Your Sales Process

6 Ways Technology Can Supercharge Your Sales Process

Today’s marketplace is always on. And it’s always evolving. To keep up, leading-edge organisations are turning to technology. Why? Because technology drives market traction. Greater forecast accuracy, real-time insights, touch-of-a-button pipeline tracking and improved relationship management are all possible with the right tools. The result? A supercharged sales process that’s clearer, leaner, meaner and more effective. Better yet: more time to spend on the ground actually selling. So how can technology reboot sales? Here are six key ways:

 

1. Improved Forecast Accuracy 

Uncertainty is the enemy of every business. Access to the right data equals insight. By tracking your sales pipeline, you can help ensure you reach your targets. More accurate forecasts also mean enhanced stability and trust across the business. When sales managers and their teams have a definitive overview of the overall sales landscape, it’s also easier to put resources precisely where they need to be.

 

2. Opportunity Management

When you’re able to track your sales opportunities and keep a close eye on your pipeline, you always know when to take action to accelerate certain deals. Dashboards can provide a complete view of sales performance, allowing you to monitor close rates and see how your sales team are tracking towards their individual targets.

3. Activity Management

Admin saps critical time that could be spent on selling. By streamlining the back office, you free up time and resources that could be far better spent. The right tools allow emails, phone calls and appointments to be tracked at the click of a button. Customers and prospects can also be kept in the loop, with updates made from any device.

4. Single View Of A Customer

Personalisation is everything. In fact, customers have come to expect tailored interactions. With the right tools, even complex account hierarchies can be displayed in a single, simple graphic. Customer information can be shown with a history of every interaction. This allows salespeople to really connect with clients. Tailoring gets a further boost when you’re able to send targeted marketing information and shape interactions around your customers’ specific needs.

5. Mobile Sales

Forgetting files at the office becomes a thing of the past with mobile sales solutions. All your customer data is at your fingertips – on your phone, tablet or laptop. Better yet, new data can be automatically synced across all team members’ devices, ensuring everyone is always working with the latest information – whether you have internet access or not. Then there’s the final benefit: productivity goes up when you can work from anywhere.

6. Sales Reporting

When you understand your customers, you can build stronger relationships. By analysing sales data, you can learn how your customers act, turning data into key insights. Then, you can move from the big picture to the finer detail. By drilling down into underlying reports, you can see the impact of your sales efforts first hand. The ability to generate reports on salespeople, contacts or accounts on-demand can drastically reduce managerial headaches.

The Wrap Up

So – now you’ve got the low-down, here are two final pieces of the puzzle. First, your customers are often way ahead of you. Statistics show that customers are 57% of the way through the buying process before they even start talking to a supplier [1]. That means that to be – and stay – relevant, you need as much information as you can going into the sale. That information needs to be easy to understand and available at the touch of a button. Second, by increasing the time you spend on the sales process itself, you can leapfrog your competitors. According to the numbers, reps spend more than 67% of their time on non-selling activities [2]. With tools such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales, you can not only up the time you can spend talking to or meeting with customers, but better understand the market you’re operating in. This means the ability to offer your customers reactive, personalised service. All of the above combined can mean that critical edge over the competition.

Want to explore how we could help you transform your sales? Get in touch.

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Never lose a prospect? What lead nurturing can really deliver

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Never lose a prospect? What lead nurturing can really deliver

The sales and marketing funnel is all about conversion. Curious prospective buyers enter at the top and happy customers exit at the bottom.

But what happens when your funnel looks more like a sieve?

By certain estimates, as many as 8 out of 10 marketing leads fail to convert. Other stats focus on buyers’ readiness. By some calculations, only half of the leads are ready to buy.

However, by simply implementing a few intelligent, tried-and-trusted tools and techniques, it’s possible to:

  • Convert more leads
  • Source higher-quality leads
  • Significantly shorten the sales cycle
  • Boost revenue

Which is exactly what today’s leading companies are doing with nurture campaigns.

 

From generic to genius

It’s the age of the individual. Today’s customers won’t settle for generic content and messaging. They want to be met on their own terms. They want to know their custom is valued. They want to be treated as an individual. To have their unique tastes and preferences catered to.

More than this, they want to feel that the company whose products or services they’re buying is engaged and aware of how they want to be treated.

It’s a reciprocal relationship. And it’s the foundation of long-term business and repeat customers.  

Building that kind of relationship takes time. It involves creating awareness. It centres on emphasising knowledge and expertise. It hinges on openness to answering questions and dispelling lingering doubts. Finally, it’s about onboarding new, quality customers likely to buy again and again.

 

Why you need to nurture – hint: it’s about connection

Every day, each of us is swamped with messages from companies trying to catch our attention.

Hey you, buy this!

What about you, sir? Madam? Look at this amazing product!

How can you imagine life without Product X? Product X will change everything!

What happens when we’re exposed to something over and over? Our brains begin to screen it out, so we can focus on other (more important) things.

Think about the way you stop noticing the background noise in a restaurant, so you can listen to the conversation at your own table. Or the way you forget about your breathing – until someone reminds you about it, that is.

Here’s the thing: every day, consumers are subject to the same marketing background noise. And after a while, it’s all the same, over and over, so people just filter it out.

 

From Noise to ‘Notice Me!’

Is there a way to craft a message that’s listened to? To be the single voice customers hear above the marketing noise?

The answer simple. Yes.

How?

  1. Have a great product or service
  2. Connect meaningfully – and personally – with prospects.

Enter the nurture campaign.

It’s a journey, not a pit stop

Unlike regular, once-off marketing campaigns, nurture campaigns are repeated exposures to your company and its products/services.

From establishing thought leadership to introducing positioning, the aim of a nurture campaign is to help a prospect evolve from an explorer or discoverer of company and its capabilities to a decider and finally – a buyer.

The best lead nurturing campaigns ensure that as many qualified prospects as possible end up as buyers.

How? By keeping prospective customers interested and engaged. By avoiding information overload. By making sure marketing messages are highly personalised – tailored not only to who the prospect is, but where they are in their buying journey.

 

How the right CRM system helps companies build amazing nurture campaigns

It all starts with prospecting and the lead. From there, it’s about qualifying and – when a buyer begins to get warm – accelerating their journey. Email and content marketing are the cornerstones, but keeping it personal is the key. Moreover, focusing efforts where they’ll yield the most returns – with intelligent lead scoring – is what it’s all about. Then there’s getting the timing just perfect – approaching prospects at a time that they’re most receptive.

The key to unlocking these capabilities is using the right technology. Managing an effective lead nurturing programme – on a massive scale – requires the right data and the right systems. Automation is critical. As is intelligence.

Dynamics 365 delivers all this and more. Find about more by seeing how our marketing solutions enable incredible, personalised lead nurturing.

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Power BI: Microsoft is the BI and Analytics leader –  Gartner Magic Quadrant 2018

Power BI: Microsoft is the BI and Analytics leader – Gartner Magic Quadrant 2018

Gartner 2018: Microsoft No.1 for BI & Analytics

Microsoft’s been innovating in analytics and business intelligence for a long time. However, Gartner’s 2018 BI and Analytics report ranked PowerBI as the no. 1 product in terms of both vision and the ability to execute. This put Microsoft ahead of 10+ niche tech firms. But it also put it well beyond the established big players, including SAP, SAS, Salesforce, Tableau and IBM.

2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms*

 

Why is this so exciting? The top spot in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms can be claimed only by a company with huge amounts of both vision and grit. A company that can see the future – and then make it happen. For real.

It’s no big surprise. For 11 consecutive years, Microsoft has come out as a leader in the Gartner rankings. And for 3 of those, it has claimed the spot for having the most complete vision of in the BI and analytics space. All testament to the calibre of Microsoft’s global leadership and unceasing drive for innovation and excellent execution.

What is Power BI?

At its core, Power BI is a suite of business analytics tools to analyze data and share insights. The technology enables decision makers to monitor their business and get answers quickly with rich dashboards available on every device. It’s built on the same data model as Office 365 and Dynamics 365 so it has deep integration there, but it also has hundreds of data connectors, making it very simple to bring in your data and start giving you the insights you need.

The Magic of Microsoft

Hundreds of thousands of businesses are already plugged into Microsoft’s BI solutions. And the reasons include everything from cost-effectiveness (the professional license is only $9.99/user/mth and is often bundled in many Office 365 plans) to how comprehensive the end solution truly is.

It’s also great for multinationals with offices across the globe – Microsoft guarantees great performance and security everywhere in the world.

Check out the experiences of some of Microsoft’s major clients:

“We use Power BI in Office 365 to turn data into insights, so we can ensure our place in the future of the luxury car industry.” 

– Andrew Palmer, Chief Executive Officer, Aston Martin

“With Office 365 E5, we’re delivering an intelligent workplace, where employees gain self-service access to interactive, graphical reports and dashboards through Microsoft Power BI … It’s easy to use Power BI to analyze real-time sales data and fine-tune our marketing activities to drive sales.”

– Markus Petrak, Corporate Director, Henkel

The solution is both scalable and flexible, too. Power BI allows companies to tap into architecture allowing easy and rapid integration with both Microsoft and 3rd party products. Moreover, businesses only pay for the capacity they need, meaning no wasted spend – but plenty of room to grow.

Rave Reviews

At The CRM Team, our own customers rave about the insights they receive. These insights have led to higher lead conversion, reduced customer churn and better engagement. Whenever we do a Dynamics 365 implementation we always leverage PowerBI to provide incredibly rich and relevant data visualisations. It’s such a great product and it enables us to add a lot of value to our clients.

All businesses search for that ‘edge’ over rivals. Microsoft is no different. It is determined to remain a leader and visionary in the BI platform environment. And it looks like Microsoft is getting it right – delivering modern BI and analytics solutions for a variety of users, and getting rave reviews in the process.

Why? Not only does the technology behind Power BI enable users to create and share insights in real time, but Power BI lets users create develop rich, compelling stories. These stories perfectly visualise data, allowing decision makers an at-a-glance understanding of how their business is doing. Custom visuals only add to the magic and personalisation.

What new heights Microsoft will reach from here is anyone’s guess. The company is on a rocket trajectory – who knows what tomorrow may bring?

Want to get more information what a Microsoft CRM solution could do for you? Check out our solution’s page. All of our solutions incorporate Power BI to enable incredible data visualisation and reporting. 

 

*This graphic was published by Gartner, Inc. as part of a larger research document and should be evaluated in the context of the entire document. The Gartner document is available upon request from Microsoft (The CRM Team is a strategic partner with Microsoft). Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organisation and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

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4 Ways a CRM Solution Helps You Close Customer Service Cases Faster

Customer service – the term calls to mind rows and rows of headset-wearing agents working through hundreds and hundreds of queries and, yes, complaints. They’re an operations director’s bugbear – running customer service can be a massive expense.

Customers do need a way to get in touch and get help. However, inefficient, people-heavy contact centres are (thankfully) on their way out. In their place are arising lean, tech-powered, data-rich powerhouses – where queries and service requests are handled seamlessly, rapidly, and at a minimum of expense.

Frustration and repetition, meet reactivity and results

The average customer service representative receives the same queries and requests over and over on any given day. Many of these are incredibly simple to resolve. A problem with how to use a product or system, for example. A service call-in. Reporting a known bug in the system.

Though each query may be quick to resolve, getting of hundreds of them on a daily basis begins to drain an agent’s time massively – and jam up the waiting queue.

There’s also the customer’s perspective to consider. For many of us, the thought of dialling into a call centre often provokes dread. Too many experiences with agents who failed to understand our problem didn’t have the right info, or couldn’t resolve the issue have meant many of us now prefer to self-serve – if we can.

Customer Service 2.0

CRM solutions like Microsoft Dynamics 365 make great self-service options a reality. But they also make interactions with agents more efficient and effective.

When it comes to customer service, every company – and customer – wants accuracy, helpfulness and speed. Closing customer service cases faster not only means happier clients – when done intelligently, it means lower costs too: less time, fewer resources.

Here’s how a CRM solution helps companies close service cases faster:

 

  1. The data powerhouse effect

Gone are the days of customers needing to wait while agents search for the information they need – often only to find it’s not there. Good CRM solutions collate all the information your company has with its customers. That single datastore is a goldmine. With access to all the data they need, agents are enabled to provide rapid, relevant information.

With a visual interface tailored to an agent’s role, all the guidance, data and tools each agent needs are in one place. Even third-party information can be integrated.

More than this, CRM solutions allow agents to view all customer engagements – from chat to social to telephonic interactions. With every customer interaction recorded and centralised, case handover becomes seamless.

 

  1. Streamlining for success

Your customers want information – and they want it fast. They’re busy. Maybe they’re tired. With scripting and intelligent recommendations, agents can follow the best route to assist customers. So they can do it faster, too. More than that, by integrating personal customer data into every interaction, agents can provide service that’s not only more efficient but more meaningful. Customers become more than just cases.

More than that, CRM solutions allow for knowledge compounding. With access to information about how other agents solved similar cases – along with forms, manuals and FAQs – the service department just gets better and better. It learns from itself.

 

  1. Keeping an eye on the clock

With access to real-time insights into every case, SLA timers and entitlements, agents can make sure that service level agreements are always met.

Collaboration tools also help agents connect – both with each other and with subject matter experts. So the right answer is always at hand. If an agent’s initial answer isn’t on the mark, cases can be automatically escalated to a specialist able to solve the problem.

 

  1. Stellar self-service

This is where CRM solutions really come into their own. Today, many people would rather solve their issue alone than contact an agent. CRM solutions make self-service seamless. Moreover, they keep people costs down. By leveraging searchable databases and community support options, customers are equipped to solve their issues in the way that suits them.

Live chat is a key component of the self-service revolution. Bots are a great way to engage portal and web customers. Intelligent systems guide users to the solutions and information they need. The result: customers not only feel cared for, but they no longer need to get in touch with contact centres, keeping costs – and queues – down.

 

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What’s new in Dynamics 365 for Field Service

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What’s new in Dynamics 365 for Field Service

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service works in tandem with the Dynamics 365 Customer Service application to help organizations manage field-based service teams. The Field Service app includes these capabilities:

  • Work order management.
  • Scheduling, dispatch, and routing of field technicians to customer sites.
  • Repairs and returns management.
  • Inventory management.
  • Mobile app for field technicians.

Here’s what’s new with the 2018 Spring release:

1. New Unified Interface framework

With the Spring ’18 release, the field service app is built on the Unified Interface framework for improved user experience. The app delivers a consistent, uniform user interface, and follows responsive design principles for optimal viewing on any screen size or device.

2. A Common Controls Framework (CCF)

User interface controls use a Common Controls Framework (CCF) for consistency with other Dynamics 365 business applications. Controls follow consistent, familiar patterns on every surface in the application, making it easier for field service users to be on-boarded and become productive quickly.

3. Ability to hold 3D content about customer assets

Arm your technicians with 3D content to help them complete repairs. 3D models or sequences can be uploaded (directly to Dynamics 365 or hosted externally), and then associated with customer asset records for use by technicians within the mobile app. Supported 3D file formats are glTF, FBX, GLB, and OBJ.

4. Resource Scheduling Optimization (RSO) enhancements

Resource Scheduling Optimization (RSO) is an add-on capability for the Dynamics 365 for Field Service application that enables you to automatically schedule work orders for the most appropriate resources, while simultaneously optimizing appointment setting for travel time, work hours, and many other constraints.

a. Extensible scope

The Resource Scheduling Optimization solution uses scope to define the input for resources, resource requirements, and resource bookings, as well as the timeframes used for optimization. With extensible scope, the solution leverages entity views in Dynamics 365 to provide an easy and flexible way to define what gets optimized.

b. Run a simulation

The admin can run a schedule on demand as a simulation, which results in resource bookings that are simulations without affecting actual bookings. This capability helps an administrator better understand the effects of adjusting optimization scope, constraints, objectives, and other parameters, to determine what optimization configuration best matches business goals and objectives.

c. Enforce skill level

Resource requirements can include not only a skill, but also the level (or rating) of the skill required to do the work. By considering the skill (or resource characteristic) rating level required, the solution is able to find resources that better match required skills and proficiency.

5. Connected Field Service (IoT) enhancements

Syncing Dynamics 365 to devices and assets through the Internet of Things (IoT), Connected Field Service helps service organizations proactively detect, troubleshoot, and resolve service issues. This way a technician is dispatched only when necessary. Organizations can enable IoT alerts, device fault states, and preventive maintenance notifications to let field service managers or technicians know when to create a new case, create a work order, send commands to control customer assets remotely, prepare parts needed for a repair, or take other actions.

a. Unified Interface framework

With the Spring ’18 release, the Connected Field Service solution is built on the Unified Interface framework for improved user experience. The app delivers a consistent, uniform user interface, and follows responsive design principles for optimal viewing on any screen size or device.

b. Synchronization of device conditions and properties with device twins

Connected Field Service includes a representation of customer assets and devices that can be registered within Azure IoT Hub to enable messages to flow through Azure IoT Hub to create alerts.

In the Spring ‘18 release, in addition to receiving messages that require action, Connected Field Service uses the Azure IoT device twin capability. The device twin, which is kept in sync with physical devices, is a JSON document that holds metadata and configuration data, as well as a virtual cloud representation of physical devices.

Connected Field Service communicates with device twins to allow devices to report operating conditions such as device state, heartbeat for connectivity speed, and machine vibration. Field service operations managers gain visibility into device conditions and properties on a graphical dashboard. For example, the capacity of a tank can be monitored through IoT Hub and represented on the dashboard. When capacity reaches a threshold, an alert is sent to designated users for follow-up action.

Field service managers or technicians can also use pre-defined commands to control a piece of equipment, such as when to restart or shut down.

Want to get more information around what a sales solution could do for you? Check out our solution’s page.

 

 

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What’s new in Dynamics 365 for Customer Service

Dynamics 365 for Customer Service is a business application from Microsoft that is designed to empower agents to deliver fast, personalized service and support. With interactive dashboards, guided business process flows, and a timeline that delivers a unified view of customer communications, the application simplifies an agent’s job and helps increase productivity. The application is available on the web in a browser and on mobile.

Here’s what’s new in the 2018 Spring release:

1. Improved dashboards

Customer Service Hub dashboards are a one-stop workplace where agents and supervisors review their workload and take actions to resolve issues. Dashboards make it easier to review and act on information coming from various entity views and queues, and make it easier to apply additional filtering with visual, global, and timeframe filters to quickly narrow down what is most actionable and urgent.

a. Tier 1 dashboard for agents

The Tier 1 multi-stream dashboard is displayed by default. The Tier 1 dashboard is tailored to help agents deliver the initial level of support needed, and handle multiple customer issues at the same time.

 

b. Tier 2 dashboard for service managers or team leaders

The Tier 2 single-stream dashboard helps customer service managers and team leaders monitor more complex or escalated cases in a single view. Users can drill down in to any section and the detail they need.

 

2. Improved business process flows with floating and docked mode

Business process flows ensure that agents enter case data consistently and follow the same steps every time they interact with a customer. Business process flows now support floating and docked mode for process stages, which lets agents view case information and update the process stages simultaneously.

 

3. Timeline view of customer interactions and activities

You can now capture customer interactions and communications by adding them as activities in the timeline section of the dashboard. The timeline section presents a unified view of everything that has happened with a case, such as email received, follow-up tasks, and automatically generated system posts, plus any notes taken during customer interactions.

 

4. New reference panel to search for knowledge articles

The new reference panel tabs allow agents to quickly find related records, or search knowledge articles for accounts, contacts, cases, and other knowledge articles.

 

5. Knowledge base article editor

Author and edit well-formatted content for knowledge articles using the new rich text editor. The editor brings common word processor features like advanced styling, linking, find and replace, and insert images and tables. Search, publish, and translate knowledge articles. Preview how the knowledge articles render on different devices before publishing.

 

Knowledge managers and authors can monitor the status of knowledge articles using new interactive knowledge management dashboards.

 

Want to get more information around what a sales solution could do for you? Check out our solution’s page.

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