By Mitch Wagner | January 2021
Successful salespeople are doers, so they’ve still been getting the job done during the past year—despite a pandemic that keeps them from going shoulder-to-shoulder with customers on location. And they’re doing so despite customer relationship management (CRM) applications that aren’t keeping up with their needs.
“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, speaking at the Oracle Cloud CX Virtual Summit.
The typical sales rep has about eight applications open at once to do her job, according to a recent Oracle study that measured the problem. Some 66% of 500 sellers surveyed said that CRM tools are important, but that they don’t use them, said Katrina Gosek, Oracle vice president of CX product strategy, in a conversation with Mohr at the event.
CRM is particularly important for inside sales, which companies now have to rely on almost exclusively amid the pandemic. “Unlike the field sales rep, inside sales reps live in that CRM,” Mohr said. That’s true whether they’re managing an entire territory or just dealing with an incoming transaction.
“It’s easy as a leader of salespeople—particularly if you’re a leader who hasn’t sold recently—to just minimize or ignore some of the complaints that reps have,” Mohr said.
Ricoh USA paid attention to the feedback, and made changes to its sales-support applications. Ricoh USA is an information management and digital services company connecting technology, processes, and people. As part of a global leader, Ricoh USA creates competitive advantage for more than 1.4 million businesses by solving problems for companies large and small.
“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.”
Over the course of Mohr’s career, she has seen changed attitudes toward inside sales—and not just due to the pandemic, or even the advent of the internet and online sales. Phone sales were viewed skeptically 20 years ago, even for items as basic as pens and Post-it notes. “Needless to say, that has changed,” Mohr said.
Ricoh now sells complex solutions through inside sale teams, in transactions that can include phone, screen sharing, PowerPoint, video calls, and video demonstrations of large, expensive pieces of equipment and software solutions.
By implementing Oracle Sales, Mohr’s sales team has reduced the steps needed to get customer information—going from 17 to 18 clicks in the past to now having all the customer information on one page. “When I pull up a customer or an opportunity and I want to make a phone call and talk to them, I want most or all the needed information to be right there,” Mohr said.
She gauges the effectiveness of the Oracle software by complaints—or lack of them. New hires are no longer complaining about having to learn the CRM system. “New hires have had a much easier experience overall,” she said.
Mitch Wagner is a senior writer at Oracle. He was previously executive editor at Light Reading and at InformationWeek.