Gerhard Gschwandtner, founder of Selling Power magazine, brought up some great points during SugarCRM’s New York Acceleration event last week, and one that despite years of harking from industry analysts continues to fall by the wayside as sales forces struggle with the next generation of consumers.
Whether it’s manufacturing, high-tech, telecom, or financial services, sales forces must turn their focus outwards and center on the perspective of the customer. To that end, CRM software can be “seductive,” Gschwandtner said, with forecasts, pipelines, and reports blinding a sales manager to the reality of how his or hers’ company is interacting with the consumer.
The Internet is altering the selling landscape by forcing companies to collaborate with customers to sell. In the immediate future, customers will create and mold companies, not visa versa. In support of this, Gschwandtner cited Web sites such as IdeaStorm.com, Dell’s community-driven Web site where Dell customers have listed over 6,000 ideas and improvements on Dell products and services, or MyStarBucks.com, where over 3,000 ideas have been listed in just over a month.
But this collaborative approach won’t be limited to the way companies interact with their consumers, but also to how businesses interact with their IT providers. In CRM, it will be about software platforms that interact across all channels, both internally and externally, and thus selecting a vendor that collaborates to build its product so it can grow with your business.
To Gschwandtner, there’s a renewed focus on customer experience management (CEM), which when taken as a whole with sales management, compensation management, and CRM, will define the new benchmark by which future sales forces will be measured, and by which customer’s expectations will be driven.