Pipeline Saves Lives, Who’s With Me?

I joined SugarCRM in February 2020. Yep, that’s right — about 45 days before we went into lockdown due to COVID-19. To say the least, it’s been a very interesting time as a sales leader. I effectively had two weeks of meetings and attended Sugar’s in-person sales kick-off event in Dallas and then everything shut down. Despite a 100% remote salesforce for the last year, we’ve managed to rebuild the sales organization to better align to customer needs and our market opportunities. And now, fresh off of our March 2021 virtual sales kick-off, I’m really pumped about the year ahead.

Over the past 20 years, CRM has always been at the heart of customer experience (CX), providing the technical backbone to drive engagement and deliver experiences that keep customers coming back for more. But sales, marketing and service teams have typically been served by different applications versus one unified platform – and the full effect of this disjointed approach is now coming to bear, as evidenced in our new CRM and Sales Impact Report. Have you seen it yet?

The report is a must-download. For years, I’ve witnessed companies relying on their traditional CRM systems to provide insight on customers and prospects to enable organizations to hone their customer experience strategies. In truth, the reality is that many traditional CRM systems — which should be the lynchpin of any customer experience strategy — are instead not fit-for-purpose and are holding companies back. 

I know what you’re thinking. Because, I’m thinking it too. How is a CRM system that’s sole purpose is to drive revenue doing the exact opposite? I knew things were bad, but I didn’t think they were this bad. The problem is with both the CRM system itself and the data it contains. Companies cannot afford to leave their salespeople devoid of the tools they need to compete. If a company’s CRM system is not delivering the customer data and insights its sales teams require to maximize acquisition and retention, the company is doomed to rely on spreadsheets for forecasting and all sorts of old school solutions for complex problems.  

Pipelines Saves Lives

I start every all-hands call with the mantra: “Pipeline Saves Lives.” As trained sales professionals, we have to focus on the task at hand, which is to generate revenue. I tell my team that, while you’re grounded, use the time at your computer to build your pipeline to make your numbers. Continue to show your customers how much you care and how much you appreciate them and everything else should fall into place. But you can’t do that without a clear view of your customers and pipeline. The CRM and Sales Impact Report confirms that lack of visibility is causing angst. 

Sales leaders I talk to know what they are missing — a connected and comprehensive customer view – a high-definition customer view, enabled by technology to provide actionable insight. I hope Sugar customers know we have their back. Sugar’s entire approach and mission is about making the hard things easier when it comes to CRM and to helping companies deliver a high-definition customer experience. 

As I mentioned in my December 2020 interview with SaleTechStar, the pandemic has done more than change sellers’ behavior. Sales organizations must seize this opportunity to reskill their field sales organizations with the skills and the tools to cope with the situation at hand, to find a path to success in this arena and via Zoom. 

This state of affairs our research uncovered is a rallying cry for the $35-million-dollar industry CRM sector. Salespeople deserve better, and a better approach to CRM was the driving force behind the launch of Sugar’s marketing, sales and service platform 18 months ago. 

As a sales leader with over 20 years of experience, I couldn’t let this report come and go without sharing my two cents. I know there is so much we can do to help you move from spreadsheet forecasting and pipeline management to dynamic, data-fueled CRM if you are not there already. We can solve the challenges that all sales teams can relate to. We are in this together!

What are your thoughts on the report? Let me know in the comments. 

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