AI and CRM: How Artificial Intelligence Makes CRM Work for Salespeople

CRM systems are sold to executives and sales leadership with promises of data security, greater visibility, more efficient sales processes, higher customer responsiveness, improved pipeline management, and more accurate forecasting. Realizing these outcomes, however, require effective user adoption. Industry analysts generally estimate CRM project failure rates to be between 30% and 70% and user adoption – particularly seller user adoption – is the primary cause of project failure. One of the most effective ways to turn these challenges into opportunities is by leveraging artificial intelligence, or AI for CRM.

Why CRM Fails

Process automation is foundational to CRM. The marketing and customer service functions, which are characterized by defined processes, benefit inherently from process automation. Since CRM improves the quality of their work and makes their jobs easier, marketing and customers service teams are quick to embrace CRM.

Salespeople, on the other hand, generally perceive CRM as a major disruption with little or no benefit to them as individuals. Indeed, they often see the system usage as a distraction from working with customers and driving revenue and they are often accurate in their assessment.

Salespeople ask WIIFM (What’s in it for me?)

In theory, a CRM System provides great benefits to salespeople. Formal sales process automation is proven to generate more revenue. Having organized access to customer and opportunity information increases sales effectiveness. Process automation will significantly reduce time spent on non-customer facing activities. In the real world, however, the challenges of implementation result in a system that provides little benefit to the sellers beyond an electronic rolodex and mass email tool.

Companies try to “sell” their sellers on the benefits and demonstrate that the results of a CRM implementation – better close ratios, more wins, and greater revenue production – will lead to higher commissions.  There are thousands of articles and an entire industry dedicated to addressing this issue – but the persistently high failure rates of CRM implementations demonstrate that the challenge is not easily overcome. Unless there is obvious and rapid value for sellers in using the system and it can demonstrably improve their work experience, no amount of training, positive, or negative reinforcement is going to drive anything more than the minimal level of adoption.

Entering CRM data is boring and time consuming

Salespeople are generally reluctant and, at best, “just-in-time” data entry clerks. When demands for data exceed what sellers feel is necessary at the time, they start skipping steps and may or may not catch up to them later in the sales cycle. Many will “batch” their CRM entries daily or weekly, relying on memory or sketchy notes. Typically, entering data in CRM is boring, time consuming, and contrary to the action-oriented nature of salespeople, which is why CRM fails to meet the expectations of businesses far too often.

One solution to this issue is to customize the CRM to support sales activities in context so data input is part of the natural flow of the sales process. With enough investment, this process can be successful, especially with insides sales or call center employees with very defined processes. The challenge has been with outside sales teams, as well as those focused complex or big-ticket sales.

Salespeople aren’t part of most customer interactions

With more team members, buyers, and sales activities, the demands for data entry expands. The issue for these teams is that in many cases, salespeople are part of an account team with members outside of the sales team, many of whom are not users of the system. The company email and calendar systems contain mountains of useful data about customers, opportunities, and prospects that salespeople want to know and have organized for them. What topics are they discussing, with whom and how often?  What information are they sharing, and how? In a traditional CRM system, the salesperson would have to collect this data from the rest of the team, manually organize it, code or assign it, and enter it into the CRM system. This is not a likely scenario for any individual seller and certainly not a scalable solution for any business. This is where AI for CRM comes into play.

AI for CRM Is the Answer

AI for CRM can enhance your system, processes and relationships with customers by enabling the elimination of time-consuming tasks, like data entry, from sellers to prioritize more important customer-facing and revenue generating tasks throughout the day. SalesConnect CRM add-on solution integrates AI and CRM to enable success and make CRM work for sales teams with AI-enabled intelligence acquisition:

  • Automated Data Capture – The system crawls Microsoft Office 365 or Exchange, Dynamics 365, SharePoint, Teams, and LinkedIn, retrieving all data related to leads, customers, prospects, and opportunities including emails, meeting details, and documents.
  • Record Enrichment – New contacts are intelligently associated with accounts and opportunities. Leads, contacts, accounts, and opportunities are automatically enriched with all relevant data and activities.
  • Analysis – SalesConnect continuously analyzes vast collections of customer interactions which are organized, assessed, and scored based on dynamic, objective criteria.

Find out more about how SalesConnect leverages Artificial Intelligence and the power of the Microsoft Intelligent Cloud to make CRM work for executives, managers, and sales teams.


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