Are you using Territory Management functions in your CRM?

In my experience, one of the least adopted tools among customers deployed CRM for Salesforce automation is Territory management.

Though Sales planning tools were not that mature few years ago, the kind of features that you see in today’s version of popular CRM software for Territory management is quite compelling as it removes a lot of overheads in managing record ownership and data visibility control.

Even some of the Organizations where CRM is extensively deployed globally uses rudimentary methods to assign territories in the CRM where the Accounts & Opportunities are hardbound to the Sales Users leading to a nightmare when there are people movements or major & minor territory realignments in reassigning the records back to the new team and ensuring the visibility is managed right up the hierarchy

Territory management, on the contrary, decouples the hard link between Sales team and Accounts / Opportunities in CRM, thereby even if the Sales person leaves the Organization, the data integrity is maintained the moment you associate the new person to the territory and re-run the assignment rules

While the above is one of the advantages from a data management standpoint, recent updates to the popular CRM tools includes advanced planning capabilities as part of territory management making it compelling. To name a few

  • Ability to automate the assignment of the right sales person to the right territory in a large organization by running rule based assignments than doing it manually
  • Tools to review gaps in territory assignment like uncovered regions, regions that are overlapping, regions that are unbalanced (revenue potential among territories is skewed etc)
  • Link quota to territories and compare the performance of one territory versus other
  • Bulk reassignments of users to records during 1 time yearly planning activity and real-time runs to manage minor / major realignments etc

I see the above as a poorly utilized function in many CRM deployments and would recommend customers using CRM to review closely the latest features available in their CRM on Sales Planning / Territory management and plan to leverage one of the important features in Salesforce automation.


CRM – Data Enrichment and User Adoption

Are your Sales Teams seeing CRM as a BOON or BANE ? If you fall under majority, it is likely seen as BANE than a BOON 🙂

One of the CHALLENGES you typically come across in CRM ADOPTION is all about the PAIN of creating and maintaining QUALITY data. Before CRM, the only CHALLENGE for sales team was to GATHER data that helps them to SELL. The data we are talking here includes but not limited to

  • ACCOUNT INTELLIGENCE data that could be as simple as Account’s website and as involved as the as revenue / profit figures of the account in past three years
  • CONTACTS DATA (includes name, email, phone number, address etc) that helps us to connect to the right folks in the targeted account list to navigate the maze right from identifying the GATE KEEPERS to DECISION MAKERS

Now after CRM, the Sales team not only has to RESEARCH for the INSIGHTS but also has to ENTER it in CRM. It can’t sound exciting for anyone including you 🙂

So how do you convert this CHALLENGE to OPPORTUNITY? What other organizations LEADING in CRM ADOPTION do to overcome this RESISTANCE and make it as a DELIGHT?

The ANSWER lies in the PROBLEM.

Make it easy for the sales user to not only ENTER data but also RESEARCH on required data RIGHT IN the CRM to WIN BUSINESS.

Today’s world of CRM is heading that direction and they provide INTUITIVE ways to automate the RESEARCH / DATA ENTRY activities like

  • On Click a button, ENRICH the Account info right from Company’s website address to past 3 years REVENUE information
  • Search for relevant CONTACTS (includes name, email, phone number, address etc)  for the account and add them to your CRM database on click of a button etc

To make the above possible most of the CRM vendors today provide a huge business intelligence database (sourced from multiple sources including the one like LinkedIn) and integrate it tightly with CRM, of course at an additional cost.

Some of the prominent services that I have used in our custom contexts are below

So if you like to make your CRM a Boon to your sales team, provide the above that boosts not only their PRODUCTIVITY but also improves ADOPTION and helps to meet the Organization / Sales Team’s REVENUE targets 🙂

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Schedule a meeting – The Modern Way

Getting an Opportunity to meet the person of your interest during Sales Cycle, is difficult and able to schedule it at a time that suits his availability is a lot more difficult.

The problem gets multifold if there are more than one participant needed for the meeting and these participants come from different Organizations like You / Your Organization, Your Partner Organization, Customer and Customer IT service provider etc.

Though CRM in general, has brought in improvements in Calendaring feature to schedule meetings internally with you and your team, it generally stayed within the boundaries of your Organization. A step forward in recent years is the introduction ofPartner Relationship Management (PRM) modules in CRM to extend the access of the data as well as to facilitate collaboration with your partners including but not limited to just meetings.

One of the welcoming features that I see in today’s CRM is about breaking the above boundary and extending it beyond your Organization as value add-ons

Recently got a chance to review through Hubspot team meeting feature that helps to send out a link in your request for a meeting where the recipient can  choose / select their availability considering your availability too. This is a fantastic aid to schedule a meeting without much of back and fro emails and most of the times if the person of your interest is a “Busy” executive, it is going to be a nightmare to get the response over emails …

Similarly, SalesforceIQ Inbox offers a fantastic toolkit that helps to embed inline in your email a range of available meeting slots for the recipient to pick and choose one that is convenient to him

I am sure most of the other CRM vendors are taking a note of it and it is a question of time to see this interesting feature in other products too…

Embrace electronic signature & integrate it with your CRM to cut down lead time

Signing a contract electronically is gaining legal acceptance across the globe and its penetration is widespread today in both B2C and B2B space.

Organizations running their sales processes in CRM should seriously consider integrating their CRM systems to e-signature solutions like Adobe Sign, DocuSign etc to collate and organize signed copies of contracts in their centralized CRM system, cut down the effort and time involved in the traditional wet ink signature process and provide a great customer experience (CX).

Most of the CRM platforms and e-signature vendors provide sophisticated APIs that can help you to generate contract documents on the fly from your CRM data (like account, opportunity info), push it through signature process electronically, get it signed by one or more parties electronically and tag it with appropriate CRM records for quicker retrieval for any future needs.

With ever growing support of CRM and e-signature systems to wide variety of handheld devices, you can virtually run the entire sales process right in your palm without any hassles. It also frees up your sales team’s productive time to be with your most important asset, your customers….

How to Segment, Target and Conquer your prospects / customers in Social Media?

Needless to re-emphasize the need for an effective social media strategy for today’s Organizations. It is a media you can never ignore as that is where your vast majority of customers and prospects meet, discuss and share in today’s world. If you ignore it is as bad as ignoring a prime plot of land available at dirt cheap prize in a busy central business district.

Social media is a place where you have to be

  • To understand what your target prospects are looking for
  • Share about your products / solutions that could meet their needs
  • If you don’t have one, strategize on basis of their inputs to design / develop one that could be a game changer
  • Address your existing customer’s concerns promptly and
  • Engage with your customers / prospects and make them as your loyal advocate to tap into his / her friends, relative and influencer circle

Knowing the fact that it is such an enticing treasure trove, it is imperative that every Organization have a clear cut social media strategy in place to tap the hidden potential.  Getting to any such treasure trove was never easier and it holds good for social media too.

One of the recent surveys done by IBM Institute for Business Value Analysis (2011), has some shocking revelations making it very difficult for the Organization to put an effective social media strategy. It says people in social media can be grouped into three different buckets.

  • Engaged Authors – A small 5% of social media users who nearly always responds to others comments or author their own post
  • Casual Participants – A large 75% of Social media users who respond or post their own content occasionally and
  • The last 20% called as “Silent Observers” whose involvement in Social media is limited to only reading other’s post but they never engage / participate

It is a common sense that your prospect / customer base could very much be distributed (5%, 75% and 20%) in the same proportion and hence the basic Marketing 101 of having an effective strategy for each of the segments is an imperative need to strengthen your bad presence.

For engaged participants …

As far as engaged authors are concerned, the biggest plus point is if these authors are your happy customers they take complete in-charge of doing word of mouth marketing for your products / solutions in Social media. But on the other hand if they are either not aware or they are not satisfied with your products / solutions you have a difficult job in hand.

If they are not aware of your products, it is important that you do a targeted campaign to ensure you get their attention, make a purchase of your product and convert them into loyal customers. Organizations can very well go to the extent of offering free products / services to them as every penny spent on them is worth it.

On the other hand if they are not happy with your products, it is important that you have right tools in place to sense their “Sentiment” on your products promptly and convert them into their advocates by extending every possible support that you can do like addressing their issues with the product in a responsive manner, providing a replacement product or in worst case even refunding the purchase if you think they can never be satisfied with the product you offer.

For the Casual Participants and Silent Observers …

The second bucket of “Casual Participants” as well as the “Silent observers” is tough to crack as they would never come out and endorse your products explicitly even if they are very happy customers. The potential is huge as they are the biggest chunk (95%) and they could potentially play a key role in influencing their friends / relative to consider your products / solutions. The same IBM survey also reveals the fact, the top 3 reasons for people to interact with companies in Social Sites as

  • To get Discounts (61%)
  • To make a Purchase (55%)
  • To do Reviews and Product Rankings (53%)

Knowing the fact that they are the key reasons to get them engaged, it is no-brainer to understand that we have to leverage the above to crack the tough segments of Casual Participants and Silent Observers.

Hence as a token of appreciation for sharing their personal info and time they spend in engaging with the brand in Social media provide them discount coupons that could push these prospective customers to buy your product as well as gives them the extra push to share some great words about you in their network.

Similarly knowing the fact that they come to Social media for Purchase after doing a review of multiple solutions on basis of feedbacks from friends / families / other influencers, providing them a quick buy option (Capitalizing the impulse purchase behaviour) in your Facebook fan page could be a great option to think about. Companies such as 1-800-FLOWERS.COM and Delta Airlines have implemented similar strategies in future.

The above are definite first steps to graduate your prospects from Casual / Silent Participants to Engaged Participants whereby they share their experience about your offerings to others to capitalize their level of influence on others ….

In net it is pretty clear that the basic 101 of segmenting, targeting and positioning very much holds good for Social media too and an effective strategy should very much address the above segments as well as segments by other dimensions in social space. Watch out for more such emerging segments to fine tune Social Media Strategy …

Client On-boarding and Customer Experience

Anyone who has gone through the process of setting up a B2B (Business to Business) Account with a Bank would swear by the poor experience they are met with due to highly inefficient and ineffective client On-boarding process that they are subjected to. Banks these days have to realize this to ensure they make the first best impressions to their clients to avoid losing them to competitors

Though part of the problem is compounded by ever growing regulatory compliance requirements like Anti Money Laundering, Terrorist Funding, Foreign Tax Account Compliance Act etc that the Banks have to adhere to, they just cover only one side of Poor Client On-Boarding experience.

The primary reason for poor on-boarding experience is attributed to few other reasons too.

  • Lack of Customer Centric Systems – Most the banks traditionally inherit systems that are Typically Product Centric than customer / relationship centric
  • Viewing the process of Client on-boarding as a back office operation than as an engaging front office with collaborative back-office framework to seamlessly work with numerous back office groups who play a facilitator role in the on-boarding process
  • Lack of metric / Key Performance Indicator (KPI) driven approach in place to plan, measure, correct and reward performing groups / Individuals who make significant difference to the client on-boarding experience

Though putting in place a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is not a magic wand that wipe-out all the issues listed above in one go without fundamental change in the way Organizations operate, an effectively designed / implemented CRM that mitigates the above challenges can be a sure differentiator for Banks to improve not only the customer experience but also the Net Customer Life Cycle Value.

Here I have articulated few suggestions and tips on how a CRM system can help Organizations to effectively improve the client on-boarding process.

On lack of customer centric system…

It is never going to be an easy task to just like that replace your product centric legacy back-end systems in one go into a customer centric system. The next viable best alternative available over here is to put an overarching CRM system that wraps your entire product centric core banking systems and make the CRM as a Centralized front office Application for your Relationship managers, Product Specialists and other Sales / marketing teams. The key design attributes of this CRM to facilitate On-Boarding should be below.

  • For new customers to be on-boarded, enrich the basic prospect data that you have collected in CRM with rich info that is available by integrating with Trusted Data Service Providers like D&B, Hovers etc. These systems provide very rich info about your clients like Client Organization Structure, Business diversity, Geographic Diversity, Key Client Contacts & their profile, financial data etc. This ensures a lot of info is already built in your system to do your KYC (Know Your Customer) as well as Risk Rating / Assessment in an effective manner by asking minimal info from your customers.
  • For existing customers, ensure your customer profile details (demographic, relationship, financials etc) spread across multiple internal products centric systems are cleaned and de-duplicated in the new CRM system. This would make it easier to facilitate on-boarding of existing customers to some your new products & services lot easier eliminating duplicity in asking info from customers that you have already with you.

On collaboration…

It is a common phenomenon observed in many Banking Organizations that Customer On-Boarding is considered either as a complete Back End (risk, legal, finance etc) responsibility or in few cases as sold Front end responsibility forgetting the underlying need of effective collaboration of front-end and back-end teams to make it easier for the customers.

The CRM one deploys should have all ways and means to make this collaboration between back-end, front-end teams and customers possible without any compromise on data security.  The collaboration could be facilitated by in-built email management solutions in CRM, a self-service portal that is integrated with CRM where customers can log-in and have visibility on his on-boarding process as well as share / submit additional info & documents needed, an internal discussion thread / business social features that can make interaction between back-end and front-end teams lot seamless and easier etc. In reality today many of these happen in an adhoc & in-efficient manual manner making it a time consuming as well as frustrating experience for the end customers.

On KPI Measurements…

None of the above systems and processes would work unless people on the ground are mandated to adhere to stringent KPI (Key Performance Indicator)/ SLA (Service Level Agreement). Assuming there is a commitment at the top to make it possible in having them in place, the CRM should provide support to have in place interactive dashboards and reports to report on these KPIs to identify the bottlenecks in the process and streamline it. The reports / metrics can be as simple as one that provides info on on-boarding throughput, performance of adherence to SLAs by various departments managing the on-boarding process, overall lead time, ageing analysis to identify critical bottlenecks etc. The KPIs should serve as a key input to your performance management team to see continuous improvement over a period of time.

So in net, going back to my original point, would like to share that Customer On-Boarding is an important process in establishing a new relationship with your client and making it effective / efficient with a well designed CRM system can make a big difference to Banks as well to Customer Experience.