The tech-fueled social world is a wealth of information. Buyers no longer have the time or patience for aggressive, uninformed sales people who don’t deliver on promises. Indeed, the future of sales hinges heavily on evolving customer relationship management (CRM) trends – namely relationship intelligence, where only excellence reaps rewards.
A Holistic View of Sales
Think holistic co-ordination, and rowing scenes from boat races come to mind. In order to smoothly propel the boat forward, all the team members must pull their oars in perfect sync. It’s the same with sales. Your sales force is the boat, and all the other departments working in the background are the oarsmen. The sophisticated tools and information your sales and marketing teams work with are the oars. Unless the various departments work in tandem, your sales force will flounder about like a ship without direction.
The Current Sales Scenario
Until recently, the sales and marketing departments of businesses have been working toward what they thought was a sound enough goal – the bottom line, or profit targets. Profit is almost always the metric productivity and excellence are measured by, and so CRM solutions are bandied about towards this ambition.
Disconnect Between CRM Solutions and Ground Reality
While CRM employs technology to combine market research with data analytics and provide customer insights, the overall customer profile is murky and incomplete at best. Why is this? The answer is the huge disconnect between these solutions and operational control.
CRM solutions are often framed by executives who don’t actually connect with customers, and so their efforts are mostly disjointed. Indeed, you can collect all the sales and marketing data you want, but it’ll be nothing but a pile of useless junk – unless you have a cohesive record of what happens to customers within the spheres of customer service, sales and marketing. When sales, marketing, strategy and execution run alongside each other rather than harmoniously integrate, customer retention is lacking and your business’s bottom line is threatened.
The new metric for measuring excellence is based on customer retention. Linda Sharp, in her book, Customer Relationship Intelligence, calls this metric, “relationship value.”
Atomic Unit of Sales
According to Sharp, every single touch point between your company and your customers or latent customers is an “atomic unit of sales.” Each of these units should be measured from the consumer’s perspective, instead of your business’s standpoint. Only then can you convert prospects and leads into sustainable sales.
Customers Are Your Partners
The whole business-sales-marketing process is a symbiotic relationship where you and your customers are equal partners. You have something your customer wants – products and services – and your customers have something you want – their money and continued patronage. The entire process is a continuum. So why don’t CRM solutions have some sort of framework that measures customer relationship value?
In her book, Sharp defines relationship value as a “relative numerical value” that can be assigned to each of your company’s interaction with the customer. But how can you use it to measure your customer relationship?
Sharp outlines the use of a real-time tracking system to record Customer Relationship Intelligence (CRI). It is important to know what interactions leads to something, and also what that something is. Conversely, it is just as important to know what interaction prevented the conversion of a prospect into a lead. To measure individual customer relationships, and thereby relationship value, you must set up a system that automatically adds or subtracts the relative numerical value every time your marketing, sales or customer service department interacts with your buyers. In other words, relationship value should be measured with each atomic unit of sales.
Why Build a CRI Framework?
The problem is that the reactions of different customers to the same situation are wildly inconsistent. However, within the CRI framework, it is possible to know which actions will keep a particular customer happy under a given situation. You can boost your productivity when using CRI as your basis for making informed customer-related decisions.
Your Actual Profit Center
The profit center of your business is not the sale of a particular product or service. That may be the source of temporary gain, but when you think about it, your customer could just as easily get the same things from your competitors. How, then, can you measure profits if not in terms of your products or service? The answer is so: customer service is the actual profit center. This viewpoint is contrary to the current business practice of tagging customer service as a cost center, but customer service has to be removed from the slot labeled ‘cost center’ and put where it rightly belongs under ‘profit center.’
Until now, customer service has been viewed as a pesky problem to deal with, and not as the relationship-building opportunity it actually is. In this setup, you may believe you are focusing on excellence. If you are, then your perspective of excellence is skewed, because what you’re doing is beaming your focus on short-term gains with sights set on turnover. In the process, you lose sight of a more durable reward in terms of customer retention.
Saleswise is a comprehensive springboard that helps you harness and aggregate all the CRI you need, to reap the rewards of excellence and to propel your business to success, primarily in the form of customer retention. Visit our website today, and see how our free service can help you and your business grow.