By Giles House, CMO and Executive VP of CallidusCloud
Every business wants to accelerate sales, get the most from its marketing investments, equip its sales teams with the best content and most effective training, and create a great experience for its customers during the buying cycle. These things sound like discrete objectives, but they’re really not: they’re part of the overall objective of creating a higher-performing sales organization.
Unfortunately, sales and marketing professionals often fail to recognize the bigger objective. They treat the symptoms of their problems, which manifest themselves in sales and marketing issues that mid-level executives are charged with solving.
Often, the choice is a point solution which creates its own problems because it’s disconnected from the larger objectives of the organization. For example, marketers may bring in a new marketing automation solution which makes it easier to reach more prospects, but that solution may not be accessible to sales, and leads may not arrive on sales’ desks with the context needed to close the deal. Comp plan managers may fail to realize the impact of a marketing campaign on sales results and incorrectly apply bonuses. Or sales ops may struggle to deliver content to sales from a disconnected content management system, leaving salespeople guessing at what content is best for the deal they’re trying to close.
Understand the Process
What’s needed are not additional patches to a misfiring set of software. The real solution is to step back and understand that there’s a process at work here – we call it a Lead to Money process – that works best when sales and marketing technology is not just interconnected, but accessible to everyone who has a role in sales and marketing.
To get leads into the system, you’ll need a marketing automation solution – but, ideally, not one that resides only in the marketing department. Sales should be able to use it, too – not just to understand the lead data it receives, but to use the ideas in marketing automation to reach their prospects with selling messages. As sales is selling, it needs the right content, so a sales enablement solution that organizes and delivers the right content for every customer is critical. Enablement is also vital to keeping salespeople educated and equipped with the most timely knowledge, critical in an era of rapid change and unceasing product evolution.
Why it’s important
Once sales is working the deal, they need to be equipped with solutions to keep it moving at the customers’ pace. Automated configure price quote (CPQ) software makes quotes easy to create and dramatically cuts quoting time; contract lifecycle management (CLM) allows sales and marketing to capitalize on renewals and to ensure the customer gets everything they are entitled to.
It’s vital to ensure salespeople are happy, too. Compensation management software automates the commissions process, allowing companies to pay their sales teams accurately and on time – and to gain flexibility to modify compensation as needed to drive the best results.
Understanding the Data
All these systems generate a huge amount of data, so an analytics tool that can help reveal trends and insights is the next piece, and perhaps the most powerful because it can expose how compensation, quoting, the use of content and other factors influence successful deals. And a training component is also enormously useful; it allows salespeople to hone their product knowledge and sales skills while enabling managers to correlate learning data to sales and evaluate the quality of training.
These solutions working together are far more powerful than a collection of disparate, disconnected software applications. The data they generate, examined in relation to each other, is an invaluable tool for managers and planners, but only if they can be analyzed. Similarly, the data generated at one stage of the sales process can inform the next stage – but only if that data is visible.
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It’s all about Lead to Money
A Lead to Money approach, improving the entire process rather than patching weak spots as they appear, does more than simply remedy today’s problems. It also introduces capabilities that are impossible otherwise, especially around advanced analytics, guided selling and data-driven content delivery. It also has an impact on the buyer: your process is more frictionless and less difficult for customers, leading to increased customer engagement and better customer experiences.
So the question is this: can you afford to keep plugging leaks in your sales and marketing operations, or would you fare better with a connected and complete solution that helps the performance of your sales team, the experience of your customers and the effectiveness of your entire organization?