The sales process is comprised of a lot of moving parts and pieces - From initiating contact to nurturing relationships to entering that sweet, sweet quote-to-cash (QTC) process. Each segmented piece needs to be a well-oiled machine to ensure the larger mechanisms of your business and your workflow are functioning as efficiently and smoothly as possible. And one of the most important and crucial pieces is your opportunity-to-close (OTC) process. Why? Because it sits right in the middle of you identifying and connecting with a solid prospect and actually having them sign on the proverbial dotted line. So today we're talking about how to improve your OTC process.
Know Your Enemy
The main issue many organizations face with their OTC process is that they are up against obstacles and roadblocks that hinder their progression through the experience and actually take time away from the entire "sales" part of their job. But it's not entirely surprising; Just look at the average workflow.
Reps are expected to track every lead, where they met and how they met, send emails to clients and prospects, update opportunity records, follow up on action items, paint the bathroom, fix the leaky faucet.... You get the point. There is a huge overburdening with data entry and organizational tasks that leads to less time actually doing the sales part of the job.
This flawed system then extends up the ladder - Managers will lean on their CRM to glean some insight into their reps' activity. Sometimes this is helpful, however some reps don't log all their activity, and even when they do it's all pretty subjective. The managers then take a stab in the dark as to which deals (and reps) to invest their time into.
Executives are then looking to their front-line managers and receiving the same flawed data - now filtered through the manager's own subjective filter - and are basing their forecasts on this faulty information.
It's time to change the approach.
Sales reps need to be freed up from this data entry grind, and allowed to do what they do best - Meet with customers and prospects, and sell. Yes, the data aspect is crucial because without accurate data from reps, managers can’t focus their time, executives can’t plan or forecast, and then it circles back around and reps don’t know which deals to prioritize.
But the answer to all of these issues is actually quite simple; technology.
When CRMs came onto the scene in the '90's, people went nuts. It may have been a decade or two since such a game changer hit the scene, but with advances in modern AI, it's time to consider automating some of your OTC process to streamline and better organize it.
Here are the facts: It's predicted that within the next three years, nearly 1/3 of all companies will enlist the aid of AI in at least some (if not all) aspects of their primary sales processes. These new intelligent selling solutions will have the ability to automate lower value rep activities so they can prioritize their time and close deals faster, and predictive analytics tools will ensure that managers and execs are making better decisions so they can use their coaching sessions more effectively and help forecast with a higher level of confidence and precision. What's not to love?
Current AI software can help reps in three key aspects of their jobs:
-It will efficiently automate data collection by taking rep activity and prospect engagement and combining it with live CRM data. That means less time entering data, and more time away from the desk selling.
-It will be a big aid for reps to make sure they are focusing on the right opportunities. Virtual digital sales assistants (VSDAs) can actually deliver suggestions and prescriptive insights to encourage reps to act when necessary.
-It will make everything so much more user friendly. Instead of tedious and mind-numbing manual processes for data entry, AI software actually provides an intuitive and familiar experience that's way closer to a typical consumer-based app than a number-crunching basic data entry piece of software. Why is that important? Software and apps closer to consumer-based apps that reps use every day in their own personal lives means they'll learn the systems faster and be ready to roll in the blink of an eye.
And again, this extends up the ladder - Managers can forego the detective work and instead focus on pipeline strategy and the right opportunities. Current AI sales technology can automatically collect and crunch data from everything from the CRM to calendars and email. This means a lot more available information without having to nag reps for updates and info.
And the executives? Well consider the fact that in the past, execs would have to manually track, organize, enter, and compare all the historical data from previous quarters to create their best-guess forecasts. If that sounds stale and boring, it's because it is stale and boring - and so is the data from a method like this.
AI tech is built to create accurate and incredibly current deal views. But not only is all this data at an exec’s fingertips, it's being crunched with the push of a button - machine learning can actually take this information and make accurate predictions around likely deal outcomes. Better insight means better planning for the coming quarter.
The fact is that if you're feeling the pain of the OTC process, you aren't alone. But current AI software might be the difference between spinning your wheels and cruising into your best quarter yet.