Customer relationship success: Sales CRM evolves

19th Feb 2020

Customer Relationship Management is a staple function of almost all businesses. In fact, CRM software is so commonly used within organisations that it is easy to forget the term refers to a lot more than a SaaS platform limited to sales. CRM has always been about the customer and while software remains an invaluable tool in supporting the work of sales teams, it should always prioritise the needs of the customer.

In other words, irrespective of the technology at hand - salespeople need to focus on developing a customer-centric approach. As such, we believe that the most recent trend amongst sales professionals has, rightly, been the evolution of CRM to CRS - Customer Relationship Success. CRS is a philosophy for salespeople and customer support teams that encourages the development of meaningful relationships with customers. This is done by treating the customer not as just a sales transaction, but as an individual with specific, personal goals. The customer is on a journey - and the company and salespeople are there to find out what it is and help assure their success.

CRS builds upon the capabilities delivered by CRM solutions and complements existing processes. The customers of today face the most demanding challenges ever in navigating their clients’ demands while balancing ever-changing business trends.

What is CRS?

The objective of CRS is to ensure the customer reaches their specific business goals through the use of their product solution. This is coupled with ongoing, tailored support from the company starting with the salesperson and all the way through to customer support. For the salesperson truly implementing CRS, the customer journey never ends.

In fact, it should seamlessly become part of every day practice. It is an approach that requires a salesperson to be the starting point of this success and genuinely invest in their customer’s outcomes. It requires the salesperson to constantly check in to see how that customer is progressing in their journey and discover new ways to assist them. The salesperson has to always remain dedicated in helping them achieve results. So, for salespeople, once the sale is made -- the deep commitment to the customer’s success begins.

This is especially true for B2B interactions. There is a fallacy that the B2B experience may be more depersonalised and not require the same level of relationship-building. However, it is not. It is still people interacting with and buying from people. Businesses should still be treated as a customer with unique, individual needs. CRS by no means replaces CRM; in fact, CRM solutions the first phase of a CRS approach. It is important to note that it is a holistic concept as much as a technological one. After all, even with CRM providing all the customer information at your fingertips, or predictive algorithms anticipating customer needs, the onus is on the salesperson to leverage it.

The first step to realising customer success is being able to quantify it, one customer at a time. This requires sound metrics such as up-to-date data about the buyer, their current business problems and what they hope to achieve in the long term. We live in a digital world where collating and processing this data is relatively easy but making it directly actionable relies on a proactive salesperson and software to store and manage this data. From here, to ensure the customer realises success, the salesperson needs to guide them on their journey and track their progress. The most important thing here is to make sure progress is measurable and not subjective. To start, set a benchmark for current sales activity and from here, KPIs (key performance indicators) and other deliverables can be established.

Evolving CRM to CRS

With this in mind, which of the many available technologies can we use to support CRS activities? Automation is one of the biggest benefits a CRM platform can bring and this is directly helpful for the salesperson in need of time to spend on customer relationships.

Instead of manually executing tasks such as outreach, follow-up and qualification, CRM platforms can help you automate these menial tasks, while still keeping some level of personalisation to instil customers trust. This allows sales reps to focus on the activities that bring the most impact to customer success. This same AI can be used throughout the customer's journey with the support teams.

CRS is a way of using existing tools to improve customer outcomes and develop personalised relationships. This means that rather than being someone targeting sales deliverables, you are targeting success metrics for each customer. Sales success will be a natural outcome.

In collaborating with customers to realise their success, you can expect better customer retention as well as satisfaction. More profoundly, however, it allows you to develop as a salesperson into a professional who is invested in their customers, proactively helping where needed and taking action when it matters most.

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