Companies spend nearly $40 billion on CRM software, and up to 60 percent of those systems fail to meet companies’ expectations. That’s a lot of money to spend for a dismal return.
It’s not that salespeople and marketers don’t need help organizing their day or capitalizing on leads. On the contrary, salespeople spend just a third of their day speaking with prospective customers, and they’re using an average of six tools to keep their sales cycles moving. Most people in sales and marketing are evaluated on their ability to close deals, and spending more time with software than with prospects is the kiss of death. Equally deadly is avoiding using tools altogether.
If managers want to see real ROI — and avoid micromanaging their people — they have to invest in the right tools, including martech, workflow and competitive intelligence. Here are three that came on my radar that I think people will actually use — and benefit from.
Spiro is an AI-powered CRM that’s built to help people do their jobs without requiring extra work, such as data entry. The software provides people with recommendations and nudges for their next calls, and it automatically syncs with a calendar and email to create follow-up lists and integrates with other platforms. This enables an employee to invest their time in powering through a call list rather than organizing themselves between calls. Spiro is designed to keep teams from using their phones for functions they shouldn’t by offering a strong mobile version and by offering an email assistant — they can ask Spiro, “What should I do today?” without logging in.
But the benefit isn’t restricted to salespeople or marketers alone — it also benefits managers. “Because Spiro is self-populating with data, the reports management looks at are eight times more data-rich,” co-founder and CEO Adam Honig explains. “Not only does the system help people and do work for them, but management’s reporting is also greatly enhanced.” Gaining better visibility into their salespeople’s work gives managers the opportunity to provide stronger support and guidance, which further fuels sales.
A lot of managers focus on training new people so they’re utilizing best practices and emphasizing brand strengths from the start — but more experienced people don’t get the same attention. Brainshark is a coaching tool that allows managers to develop on-demand training tracks that can address different salespeople at different stages of development. The video-based and mobile-oriented technology also plays to people’s competitive spirit, offering coaching challenges with scoring and opportunities to showcase high-performing employees.
The system also enables teams to take advantage of peer learning, taking some of the pressure off managers and allowing people to learn from each other. With 99 percent of Millennials indicating that they value sharing knowledge with their co-workers, this coaching tool can scratch their itch and help boost retention. The longer employees stay on, the better positioned they are to take advantage of their managers’ insights and resources.
Data’s important to the sales and marketing process, not only in tracking team performance, but also in communicating the value of a product or service to a potential customer. Alinean focuses on metrics verification and value selling so people can explain the cost of purchasing their products — as well as the financial benefits. The tool aims to help teams articulate their offering’s value and strengthen their pitch to prospects. Capable of integrating with various platforms, Alinean can develop self-service assessments, benchmarking tools, ROI calculators, and dynamic whitepapers to build collateral for your employees to use.
With nearly 60 percent of competitive deals won by salespeople who proved they understood the prospect’s needs, gaining insight into true needs — rather than assumed needs — is paramount to closing future deals. As managers help their teams develop a better discovery process, they can quantify the value of the product or service their teams are selling and eliminate a big obstacle to closing sales.
While managers need tools to give their teams the support they need on a daily basis, not all tools are created equal. “Just because you can reach millions of people, doesn’t mean it will work better than targeting the few that will actually use your product,” says Tyler Hanway of InMyArea.
To avoid spending a lot of money on products their people won’t even use, managers have to select platforms that strengthen weak spots while making their teams’ lives easier — as well as their own.
Brittany Hodak is co-founder of ZinePak, an entertainment agency that helps brands and celebrities convert consumers into superfans.