Apps for the sales force and integrated systems: the pros
One of the recurring issues in the digitisation of the sales force is the integration of the different tools, that for different reasons and at different times, are involved in the sales cycle. In other words, an app for the sales force, with which to handle all the process that takes place in front of the customer (from the pitch to the configuration of the quote, and from the quote to the contract), is a key tool to solve productivity issues with the sales force, that is at the top of its game when it is perfectly integrated with the corporate systems.
Going into the technicalities, there are three apps that the sales cycle has to do with. Actually, they are three single ones:
- CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote), which is one of the key functionalities of the app for the sales force, the tool you use in front of the customer to configure an estimate and manage a quote;
- CRM (Customer Relationship Management), a tool to handle all contacts and all kinds of customer relationships;
- Lastly, ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), which is instead the most far-ranging management tool that brings together all the business processes managed within the company.
The option to share information through such apps is essential for the success of each single sale, and therefore for the results that the entire sales team can achieve.
Apps for the sales force and corporate systems: United we stand!
Within the sales cycle, the CRM, CPQ and ERP play different roles but using them in an integrated way can certainly help increase the productivity of the whole process.
The CRM is the starting point for all customer information: not just their details but also their ‘attitude’ to marketing and all manners of contacts and interactions among the company, marketing, the sales force and above all the customers themselves (whether prospective or existing). There is no doubt about the CRM’s wealth of information or its helpfulness, but it has a limit: with the CRM you don’t sell and it is useless with the customer. In this case, you need to have an app for the sales force that integrates the CPQ functionality: the CPQ, which is extremely effective in itself, becomes all the more so if it can acquire and use the customer details from the CRM. It must obviously do all this automatically, otherwise you’d have the same limits as with a manual process.
Another key integration is that between the app for the sales force and the company’s ERP management system. The advantages, which depend on the organisation, the industry and the available information, can be felt across two steps. Using the information from the ERP, the sellers can have a much more exhaustive picture of the product and can start the order management process in a completely automatic (and error-free) manner, a process that in the second step goes as far as the invoicing stage. In both cases, there are remarkable advantages. The option to close a deal with the sales app and instantly put it into effect is one of the greatest advantages of integration with the corporate systems, since manually managing the transcription of the contract will expose you to make mistakes, omissions, repeats that will have to be corrected later on and that, sure enough, will make the process longer.
On a general level, then, there are mainly two advantages in integration, and two very important ones: speeding up the entire sales cycle and, even more urgently, no chance to make mistakes between steps, with the all ensuing advantages.