Intelligent Sales Lead To Cash

Swati Sinha

Digital disruption is mandating that organizations revisit their business processes and consider an end-to-end approach for upgrading and managing their functions with the help of technology.

Silos, disconnected applications, and scattered information across business processes obstruct an organization’s ability to respond to ever-changing customer and market needs. Today’s buyers are sophisticated and in control, and they want a combination of products and services customized to meet their individual needs, available on their preferred channel, and on perceived price point.

Lead to cash: Transform the buyer journey

To deliver an exceptional customer experience in this new landscape, all customer-focused business units – from marketing to sales to fulfillment to billing – must join forces. To achieve this, a solution is needed that fully integrates internal and external data and processes, and the solution must be the one source of truth across the organization.

Lead to cash is arguably the most important customer-centric process in an organization, starting with the customer’s intention to buy, and ending with revenue recognition. Utilizing artificial intelligence and in-depth integration of data, you can make your processes inherently intelligent, thus guiding sales to be proactive, rather than reactive, to changing customer needs.

Lead : AI and integration transform sales leads

When marketing and sales are aligned and harness the power of AI to focus on high propensity leads, an effective understanding of customer needs and interests – as well as insights into how to close the deal – are created.

With an integrated solution, marketing can effectively hand off lead information to sales. Research by the Aberdeen Group suggests that companies that optimize the sales and marketing relationship see 32% faster growth in revenue, 90% higher growth in brand awareness, and a huge increase in average deal size, sales acceptance of marketing-generated leads, attainment of team quota, and percent of sales-forecasted pipeline generated by marketing.

Opportunity knocks: Is it what your customer wants?

Deals and opportunities are the foundation of your sales cycle. To pursue an opportunity, salespeople spend extensive time searching for customer information that is typically spread throughout a disparate system and then go with their “gut feel” or personal network to pursue it. This can result in fragmented conversations and even loss of deal.

With the help of artificial intelligence and real-time access to holistic internal and external customer information, sales professionals can engage effectively, focusing their time on the best deals, and taking recommended actions to convert prospects to customers.

This intelligent approach eliminates clutter from the pipeline and increases forecast accuracy.

Trusted advisor

A report by Forrester suggests that 79% of B2B buyers say it’s critical for them to interact with a sale rep who can be a trusted advisor – which means not only meeting expressed needs but the ability to foresee and support the future customer goals. For this sales reps need to listen and surface customer pain, identify needs, and proactively recommend an ideal solution.

Products are constantly changing to match customer expectation of customization and options, generating thousands of SKUs. As catalogs grow, sales reps are placed in a difficult spot: they have to be trusted advisors with in-depth knowledge about their products, but with the complexity of products, they don’t have a grasp on the entire product line and possible customizations.

In absence of an intelligent solution, the rep sells based on limited knowledge – which may or may not be the best choice for the customer, or most profitable for the organization. Guided selling simplifies this process by recommending products based on various attributes, like the type of sales, past customer behavior of similar customers, etc.

Intelligent pricing generates revenue

Correct pricing is critical in determining the revenue of an organization. Pricing not only influences customer behavior, but also the sales rep’s behavior.

Sales reps want to price a solution that is lucrative to customers, and might end-up applying discounts that cut into the overall margin, especially in complex, bundled sales. Intelligent pricing helps sales rep price the solution that is competitive and optimizes their commission without impacting the deal profitability.

It allows them to build in rules to prevent discounts that dip below a certain level of margin, contingent on the products included in the deal. It also helps in identifying up/cross-sell of add-ons, options, and special promotions to increase deal size.

Putting it together: Effective quotes are crucial to sales

Effective quoting requires both speed and accuracy and is an integral part of the sales cycle. While an accurate quote can help close a deal fast, a delayed and error-filled quote can frustrate the customer, and may even cause the loss of deal.

Automated and streamlined approval processes help in protecting margin throughout any negotiations, introducing quality control, but not bottleneck. Triggers can be set for an approval of special quotes, such as exceeding discount or gross margin thresholds, or non-standard terms.

Since sales reps have real-time visibility into margins, delays in non-standard discounts and negotiations are minimized. Quotes with no special terms are automatically approved to speed up quote delivery.

Deliver on your promises

After the contract is signed, the fulfillment center ensures that right product, including add-on items, etc., are delivered to the customer, on time.

An integrated and streamlined process provides the visibility needed to stay attuned should any ‘change in order’ arise, thus avoiding any surprises upon deal closure. Sales solutions should also be able to move order details from the quote to the contract to ERP, and on the other hand, have the ability to add details to the CRM to enable fast and intelligent renewals.

Integrated billing solutions: Flexible and insightful

Monetization strategies continue to evolve as companies look for new ways to sell their products. Billing solutions should be flexible enough to customize subscription models for various levels of services, allowing for upgrades or one-time charges.

Integrated billing solutions should be able to consolidate even complicated B2B products and service packages into a single bill, and personalize it before sending to the customer. With integrated billing solutions, sales has visibility into purchase and transaction history and can create personalized offers for existing customer bases, thereby increasing revenue by lowering the cost of customer acquisition.

So, with integrated and intelligent Lead to Cash solution organizations can accelerate sales velocity and time to revenue, have margin-protecting guardrails and price optimization, increase cross and upsell opportunities, avoid revenue leakage at various points and help an organization transform their customer buying journey.

Ready to transform sales with intelligent lead to cash solutions? Join us here.

This article originally appeared on The Future of Customer Engagement and Commerce.

Swati Sinha

About Swati Sinha

Swati is part of the Analytic Applications for Line of Business team at SAP. She is passionate about marketing and is a technologist with a masters in business administration and masters in computer applications. Her experience spans development and product management with various technology companies.