Looking Backwards and Forwards From 2011: Predictive Sales Intelligence Will Redefine CRM and the Sales Process

One of the problems we all have with technology is that we soon forget that what is now commonplace was once rare or non-existent.

New technologies penetrate the market so rapidly that total market transformations can occur in the space of under three years (and some might say even less).

It’s barely been a decade since the Y2K scare and the Dot Com crash. Widespread broadband Internet access hasn’t been a reality since 2003 (and some could even argue since 2005). Smart phones, text messaging, YouTube, SmugMug and Flickr, convergence of mobile audio and telecom, “apps” getting added to the mainstream lexicon . . . all recent developments. 4G network access right through your telecom provider? Check. Streaming HD? Check.

Many businesses and universities barely got their WIRED infrastructures in place by the early 2000s. Now being forced to “plug in” to a network with an actual wire seems almost archaic.

But the real point of all of this is that we have to be careful not to look past the mark with our old sales and marketing standby, CRM.

Hosted CRM seemed revolutionary 10 years ago. Now it’s simply considered the norm for applications of its type. Fluid, mobile, always-on, cross-platform, multi-device ready, “The Cloud” is becoming exactly what industry giants like Mark Benioff of salesforce.com believed it could be.

But as the nature of professional sales has evolved, so too has the need for CRM to evolve with it. “Naked” CRM–i.e., a self-contained CRM application just for use by the sales team–is now just the beginning, not the grand end of sales and marketing intelligence.

InsideView proves that the value of social media increases exponentially when it can be applied directly to the sales/buying cycle. Marketing automation solutions like Eloqua manage opt-ins and content, all directly linked back to lead generation and sales acquisition costs. Dialer tools like the PowerDialer for Salesforce manage and predict call cycles for lead generation, pushing the highest-quality leads and data to the reps right when they need it.

All of this is designed for a single purpose–to close the gap from “old” sales to new. Getting attention through marketing channels is harder than ever. So when a company finally does “get some love” from a prospect, the tools have to be in place to make every opportunity count, to have the highest chance to contact and close the deal.

While I don’t totally agree with InsideView that cold calling is “bottom of the barrel,” the shifting sands of demand generation and sales intelligence in 2011 means that true “cold” calling will almost be a misnomer in the future. Our ability to “predict” who and when to call, what to say when we do, and the value proposition a prospect will most readily respond to will ever increase as the sophistication of the tools we use increases with it.

Author: Ken Krogue |
Summary of Ken Krogue’s Forbes articles

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