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Leveraging data in software sales

If we take a look into most organizations, their marketing and sales departments do not work closely together enough to truly meet the continuously changing needs of their prospects and customers.

 

This common occurrence makes no halt at small software development houses, large software providers or even globally operating giants. However, a leading indicator is maturity of the organization as in most cases legacy systems and processes play a key role in this stand-off.

Update your efficiency and transparency

The industry, especially the software industry changes swiftly and customer’s demands towards enterprises shift on a daily basis. This makes the feedback loop from sales to marketing even more important than ever. That is why we would like to take a look into the success factors of how to resolve the challenge of the disconnection of marketing and sales objectives, which is impacting marketing and sales ROI significantly.

 

To sustain a well-organized data flow and feedback loop, enterprises need a common customer relation management system. Every company or enterprise has one; just a rare percentage uses it efficiently enough. Of course, sales uses the CRM regularly and process compliant. Yet marketing may also use its own marketing automation tool, to speed up processes. Subsequently, they have difficulties to harvest the informational gold mine hidden in their very own database, provided: sales maintains their database proficiently enough.

 

A central CRM system and a well structured sales and marketing process, spanning over all departments from pre-sales, sales, after-sales to marketing, could handle the desperately needed flexible data flow. When maintained eagerly by the three frontline services, marketing would have an unbeatable tool to receive real-time data, track changes of the software market and adjust campaigns towards almost palpable targets.

 

Better content could be created, resulting in more effective lead generation. Marketing could tailor campaigns to customer needs and wishes. Subsequently sales would have a much easier job in selling a product or service. Our experience has shown that enterprises with a perfectly organized feedback loop and a central CRM system are by far the most successful players in the business.

Real-time data is a rare good

The sales department is the first wave to receive valuable information from customers about their needs and desires. We even see a valuable data source in technical pre-sales and after-sales. These are extremely important resources in delivering first-hand information back to research and development and in the end to marketing to create and drive better campaigns. If marketing could receive all information a sales person receives over the day; what wonderful and target-oriented campaigns and actions could they deliver?

 

The lack of information is nowadays the pain point between marketing and sales. Inside sales is all about information gathering, deploying and customer conversion. The application of knowledge in sales and marketing is the most effective way to guarantee success and market penetration, especially in a niche like the software industry. Yet, data is within the industry one of the most negative influences enterprises may encounter and additionally very common. Enterprises have just a friction of up to date data available, which makes a stable growth nearly impossible.

 

At the turning point of leveraging and combining the given information about prospects and customers, your sales teams will become highly effective. Were you to know the following about your entire account set in your very own CRM:

  • When the end of life for relevant software products/service is,

  • The size of the client’s budget,

  • The actual start of the evaluation process for a new software product or subscription.

Wouldn’t this be wonderful? Your sales army could call just at the right time, the right person and pitch the right solution. Your company’s conversion rates would increase significantly.

 

Your enterprise’s cost of sales would definitely decrease steadily. This is why assessing and processing data is the key lever to ultimate success of marketing and sales and the company itself.

Old habits die slow

Worldwide operating corporations, with a high maturity level, battle legacy processes additionally, which impede a smooth workflow and feedback loop. It is rather impossible to provide a satisfactory end-to-end customer care, if the enterprise is rigid and does not react to swift changes in the industry. The longer an enterprise persevered on the market, the more changes it went through.

 

It migrated from CRM to CRM and every one of them left its little quirks and processes behind. Just like in their private lives, people tend to leave things as they were. Not only does this disrupt the smooth and fast flow of information, but also impedes departments of working tightly together.

 

On the other side, switching CRMs is a time consuming process, which involves training employees and bulk data transfer. Therefore it is of high importance to support the growth and focus on smaller endeavors, yet of same importance.

KPIs are the key

It is of grave importance to understand what information is needed to be successful. Of course KPIs are a very good indicator to see what has to be done and how, but it is even more crucial to know what to measure, at what time and where to place these KPIs.

 

Many key metrics measure and evaluate the sales team or the marketing team separately. However, people do often forget that sales and marketing are linked to each other. Therefore, we need to focus on the KPIs, which show the success of an enterprise and which as a whole measure and evaluate the enterprise’s end-to-end success of the sales cycle or the customer journey.

 

Once we places KPIs at the handover point of leads between marketing and sales, we see significant changes within the key metrics. Meaning, what is the actual win-rate? How big is my competition and how much of an impact does a software or service to the market do? This way we get answers to vital questions to build an enterprise’s growth:

  • How many decision makers do I have to talk to, to close a deal?

  • How do I influence the average deal size sustainably?

  • How do I shorten sales cycles?

  • How do I sell more effectively?

 

In many cases, we implement metrics like the sales acceptance rate and the sales turnaround of customers. Indicators, which measure how many marketing generated leads were in fact recognized by sales as valuable to generate sales, providing an actual look at the marketing department’s ROI. In the end: marketing does not close deals, it provides opportunities to spread the word and cover the whole market, therefore supports the sales team in their tasks.

 

Very often, the capacity of sales reps or marketing specialists prevents an enterprise from addressing the whole market to grow exponentially. In this case, marketing campaigns have to be specifically tailored to customer needs and sales has to follow-up leads more often to trigger an exponential growth. Whenever we implement these changes within our customer’s strategy, we instantly notice a significant success and improvement.

Capacity of a trusted partner

If there is a lack of headcount, the enterprise should reflect on possibilities to enrichen its capacity. Especially when marketing efforts starting to kick in, you want to have the sales capacity to leverage the full potential of the created interest to maximize ROI for both, sales and marketing.

 

Of course, budget freezes and the pending approval of additional headcounts are common irrespective the size of the organization. This is where a trusted outsourcing partner is able to help. Either, with a highly leveraged revenue sharing concept or optimized cost of service resources, to drive budget maximization at increased market penetration. This opens up many possibilities and increases the potential of profitable prospects, even with budget constraints.

 

This is where the topic outsourcing becomes more and more important in nowadays industry. The focus on the core competence of an enterprise is kept and reactions to a possible shift in the market are more likely to happen due to the flexibility of outsourcing its sales team. A trusted partner is one of the most important building structures in the industry.

Taking over Market Share

Connecting marketing and sales more closely, is the key but cannot be achieved over night. Sometimes you have to concentrate on small gaps to be closed, before taking on a grand change like the CRM system. Even so, our experience has shown the data transparency to be a major profitability in terms of cost and execution.

 

Were we to start changing processes drastically, we would see a steep decrease of revenue and affect the enterprise’s revenue negatively. This is why we work with the credo: “business continuity first!” keeping in mind, that the transparent data flow crossing all resources ensures a sustainable success.

 

Working with specifically and carefully placed KPIs provides vital information to grow and strengthen an enterprise’s position in the market. Market changes happen and are a given fact. This means flexibility is key. With a trusted partner, an enterprise is able to overcome budget constraints and prosper exponentially.

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