July 27 by Raymond Juarez
It feels like our newsfeeds have been taken over by buzzwords like “Artificial Intelligence” and “machine learning.” We know that having predictive or cognitive capabilities is top of mind for many businesses — in fact, 81% of companies said increasing the use of predictive analytics was important to their sales strategy in this year’s The State of Salesforce Report. Emerging tech tools with learning and predictive capabilities sound exciting and futuristic, but how can they impact your business today? If you approach them armed with a strategic implementation plan, these technologies can offer a big edge in your industry. Here is the three-part roadmap to bringing a new, intelligent tool into your business processes without proliferating your IT landscape.
Your Intelligence Is Only as High as Your Data Quality.
Your data must be pristine before you consider plugging it into an algorithm that’s positioned to learn and make predictions. Before an intelligent tool can touch any other part of your business, your IT team has to be enabled with proper governance and strategies to maintain the quality of your data. Next, ensure that data input is standardized, structured and easy for your sales team so they can contribute to maintaining that quality data.
Crawl, Walk, Run — Don’t Jump.
New tools are exciting, but they are only as useful as you build them to be. Once you have clean data, the next step is building solid sales processes by implementing a Quote-to-Cash (Q2C) solution. Despite the rising capabilities with cloud-based tools, the number of apps should be rationalized at every turn. Rather than focus on any single product, focus on unlocking innovative digital business models using CPQ, marketing automation, and analytics tools working in concert. Extracting long-term value is derived from a holistic approach: “the sum of its parts”. Leverage the platform and a strategy that creates synergy with a roadmap mindset, otherwise you may not capitalize on the true power and flexibility of the platform.
Once you have processes in place that are successfully increasing operational efficiency, stopping revenue leakage, and increasing your “closed-won” rate, you’ll have set the foundation for the overlay of a smart tool like Apttus’s Intelligent Cloud.
Consider these main data points:
– How were you successful with Q2C?
– What are you selling successfully?
– Who are your buyers?
– What orders are being cancelled?
– What’s in your pipeline and is it accurately tied to your forecast?
– What isn’t selling that should be?
This analysis of your data should help to identify missed opportunities. These are the areas to focus on as you bring in a guided selling solution. As companies mature, they need to focus on lowering the cost of sales and speeding up the cash recognition process without inhibiting the quality of the customer’s buying experience. The opportunity the Intelligent Cloud introduces is the ability to sell smarter by honing in on what to sell, who to sell it to, and when to do it to maximize deal size and margin for every opportunity.
Engage, enable, employ.
The smartest part of a tool like Intelligent Cloud is its ability to positively affect user behavior. Employees are empowered with access to real-time data at their fingertips. Salespeople gain insights into their own behavior; for example, if they offer a big discount that is outside of their permissions, it shows them visually that they are in the yellow for the discount and outlines what approvals they’ll have to get. This “deflection” of behavior helps employees avoid overly discounted deals in the moment, and teaches them how to avoid them in the future as well.
Once the correct pricing is set up, Intelligent Cloud serves up recommendations on additional products to sell based on the company’s deal data. Throughout this process, salespeople can view their overall profitability and personal commission in real time so they understand the impact of their decisions, moment to moment. Tools like the Intelligent Cloud look at sales data and learn which configurations of products and services are working and, and how the best reps are successfully selling these solutions. It can then package that data into repeatable “recipes” to incentivize on future deals.
We know that creating a premium customer experience is essential for sustaining loyalty. But what is most compelling is that employees expect their companies to practice what they preach so, if they are constrained by existing tools or systems that inhibit creating this memorable customer experience, employee enthusiasm will suffer. This year, 90% of companies listed improving the user experience of apps used by sales teams as important to their sales strategies in the coming year.
Armed with intelligent data, salespeople can close deals that are best for the customer, and offer the best commission possible, making the sale a great experience for everyone involved. The idea that customer insights combined with engaged employees leads to more revenue isn’t a new one. The move to intelligent tools is just the next step.