As a former salesperson that now focuses on business intelligence (BI), I know how important it is for a business to have access to the right tools and the most useful data. It wasn’t that long ago that as a salesperson I had only a basic phone and a notebook with prospects’ and customers’ names – and had to sit at a desk to schedule appointments. To get orders your customers either had to fax over a purchase order, mail it, or you pick it up yourself. I’m not even that old, but sadly this is accurate. A lot has changed over the years, including the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud-based solutions, mobility and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), which in turn ushered in the ‘always on’ employee. Of course, these changes have allowed sales tools to evolve, too.
There was also a time when a customer relationship management (CRM) tool was nothing more than a glorified electronic Rolodex. But with the rise of CRM solutions from companies like Salesforce.com and SugarCRM, the functionality of these types of tools has dramatically changed. Now,a salesperson can use a CRM solution to not only manage his or her prospects and customers, but also manage pipeline, forecasting, and integration with marketing automation tools. It can even provide visibility into orders through integration with back-end systems. This level of functionality is important not only to the sales team, but to your entire business.
The evolution of CRM tools become more interesting when you consider that business phone systems have changed a lot, too. Over the last seven years businesses have adopted Voice over IP (VoIP) phone systems, which are typically much easier than their analog/digital counterparts. This is especially true if you need to run reports and have APIs integrate with other applications. Increasingly, companies are also seeing the benefits of a full Unified Communications (UC) platform. UC provides a way to funnel voice and instant message communications (and other advanced features) through one “unified” system, and connecting internal and external people no matter where they are physically located.
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