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Inside sellers work heroically to close deals

CRM needs to empower sellers, rather than forcing them to juggle multiple tools and systems.

By Mitch Wagner | June 2021


CRM needs to empower sellers, rather than forcing them to juggle multiple tools and systems.

Pandemic precautions elevated inside sales to extreme importance—the primary channel connecting businesses-to-business companies with customers. The new demands strain technology past the breaking point. To compensate, sellers are making calls from outrageous places—vacation, dinner, and even the bathroom.

Most customer relationship management (CRM) software is just plain problematic for sellers, according to “Getting Past the Breaking Point of Yesterday's CRM,” a report by Denis Pombriant, managing principal of Beagle Research Group, in partnership with Oracle.

Beagle surveyed 500 inside sellers about the tools they use to do their work, and found no love for legacy CRM.

“66% of sellers would rather wait in line at the DMV, get stuck in traffic, do jury duty, or perform other unpleasant tasks than update their CRM," Pombriant writes.

Legacy CRM systems were designed to help sales managers collect information about the pipeline and write reports, rather than helping sellers sell. Often, these systems fail to connect with other enterprise platforms, such as an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, says Katrina Gosek, vice president, outbound product management for Oracle CX product development. Additionally, sellers rely on an average of eight tools to do their daily jobs, including email, the internet, smartphones, video conferencing, and Word documents. Even though CRM was supposed to simplify selling, only 47% of sellers use CRM regularly, Pombriant writes.

To compensate for the shortcomings of most CRM, some 72% of sellers need to have at least three screens or windows open, including mobile phones, to coordinate a sales process. They rely on Post-it Notes to keep track of customer information.

And 90% of sellers conduct business outside the office. Locations include the bathroom (30%), shower (11%), and doctor (24%), Beagle's research shows.

Workarounds lead to mistakes. Some 39% of sellers have called prospects multiple times, 33% called prospects who already owned the product or services, 33% used the wrong name when talking with a prospect, and 24% used the wrong gender. And 42% of sellers say they’ve been ghosted by prospects because the competition got to them first with a better offer.

 

“Just because your good people have found a way to do their jobs effectively—with duct tape and bubble gum and Post-it Notes and Excel spreadsheets and 13 highlighter colors—don't let that mask the very real challenges and struggles and the lack of efficiency.”

Sam Mohr, Vice President, Inside Sales, Ricoh USA

And yet, sellers soldier on.

“Just because your good people have found a way to do their jobs effectively—with duct tape and bubble gum and Post-it Notes and Excel spreadsheets and 13 highlighter colors—don't let that mask the very real challenges and struggles and the lack of efficiency,” said Sam Mohr, vice president of inside sales for Ricoh USA, an information management and digital services company connecting technology, processes, and people, speaking at the Oracle Cloud CX Virtual Summit in November.

Oracle is working to fix CRM, evolving its Oracle Advertising and Customer Experience (CX) and Oracle Sales products to help sellers (rather than get in sellers’ way) by assembling and understanding information in multiple systems to enable more informed sales calls, as well as suggesting the next, best offer or action—helping sellers spend less time on data entry and other administrative tasks, and more time selling, Gosek says.

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Photography: Tony Anderson/Getty Images

Mitch Wagner

Mitch Wagner

Mitch Wagner is a senior writer at Oracle. He is a veteran technology journalist and was previously executive editor at Light Reading and InformationWeek.