The process between a buyer and seller can range from simple, faceless, impulse transactions to complex, multi-year, high touch, committee purchases. The challenge for a CRM tool like Salesforce.com is to be able to offer the proper infrastructure to support a wide range of selling processes. Companies frequently evolve their sales process.
For example, a company may decide that the key to success is to lower their cost of sale by moving a high-touch sales environment to a more scalable approach, perhaps with a more inside sales focus and a streamlined product and service mix. Alternatively, companies may wish to become more high-touch if they want to embed themselves more closely to the customer (typically a large scale enterprise) with the hopes of adding significantly more value of the customer, raising switching costs and capturing cross-sell and up-sell opportunities. Many companies do both, by segmenting their market with enterprise/named accounts and small to medium business companies (SMB).
Salesforce.com can handle both situations. On the one extreme, we’ve worked with customers who use Salesforce.com as part of their transactional system. By using Salesforce.com’s API’s, they are able to focus their precious development resources on key business logic and presentation and let Salesforce.com handle the standard account, contact, lead management. Further integrations into order entry and finance can help dramatically lower the cost of sale and increase scalability. We’ve done several projects for Internet companies who used Salesforce.com as part of their B2C infrastructure.
On the other hand, we’ve worked with companies who have a complex, relationship-based sales process. One such example is FreeWheel, where we helped build out their sales and service infrastructure using Salesforce.com. FreeWheel sells industry leading technology and services to manage advertising and operations for some of the largest companies in the world – companies like AOL, ESPN and Turner. While they already know every potential customer, the sales process is complex. Their customers are global and have many departments (and partners) that may benefit from FreeWheel’s solutions. We worked with them to create an infrastructure that modeled all participants in the sales, customer management and support processes.
To a company that is driven by customer success, having accurate tracking and the automation to back it up means better customer service, increased customer satisfaction and increased sales.