The concept of customer relationship management (CRM) software was established over 20 years ago and has since become a foundational business application of small and large enterprises alike.
Using CRM systems, companies have transformed how they view and manage customer relationships from transactional moments to long-term engagements.
Whether companies interact with their customers via social media, websites, marketing materials or email, their CRM systems can collect data across multiple touch points.
Where CRM Falls Short
While companies traditionally use CRM for sales management, marketing automation, and customer support, most fail to harness their system’s full potential.
That’s because traditional CRM systems fail to account for the revenue management processes that play a large part in the overall customer journey and experience.
While CRM solutions do a great job of collecting and storing customer and prospect data, they fall short of managing key data for pricing, quoting, contracting, and offering incentives and rebates. This type of information is mission-critical for sales to succeed during the buying cycle when the appearance of potential problems can serve to deter prospects and frustrate existing customers.
Let’s examine the quoting and contracting process. If a sales representative delivers an inaccurate quote to a prospect because of obsolete pricing information, the entire sales process can be delayed, possibly leading to a lost opportunity.
The problem can be exacerbated if errors are propagated into the contracting phase of the sale.
This situation is quite common as current pricing and product configuration rules commonly stored in back office systems aren’t available in the CRM systems used by sales teams. Without combining this information into a CRM system, the customer relationship might end before it even begins.
Managing Channel Sales Data
Managing revenue effectively is also important for companies who manage large channel networks and, subsequently, large volumes of channel sales data.
High tech companies spend a significant amount of resources each year collecting, cleansing and analyzing channel data to increase visibility into internal and channel sales activities. But without effective tools that are properly aligned, companies fail to gain full visibility into these critical internal processes, which can result in significant revenue leakage.
Channel data should not only be available and accurate, it should be integrated into a company’s CRM solution to enable efficient channel sales growth, reduce duplicative rebate claims, and improve accuracy in incentive payments which in turn leads to reduced payment outlays and higher profit margins.
How to Enhance CRM Systems
How can companies enhance their CRM systems to deliver their full potential? The answer lies in transforming complex sales processes from various disjointed operations into a strategic end-to-end process that we call Revenue Management.
By automating and integrating key steps in the sales cycle such as pricing and quoting, contract authoring and approvals, and rebate and incentives management, CRM solutions can help ensure sales teams large and small are offering customers the right product for the right price at the right time. They can create a more seamless customer experience throughout their entire buyer’s journey.
What’s Next for CRM Systems
There is tremendous buzz about artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities — even applied to CRM. While these new technologies appear promising, it remains to be seen how companies will benefit by adopting them.
On the other hand, we expect to see more companies adopt solutions that augment their CRM systems with capabilities designed to automate the key revenue management processes discussed above.
As companies continue to rely on their CRM systems to manage customer experiences, they’ll increasingly realize the need to take that experience one step further by shortening sales cycles, making processes more seamless, and by removing frustration by ensuring accuracy and efficiency.