A Product Leaders’ Journey to Fix Sales, Improve CRM, and Make Mobile Work

One of the best things about being a product manager is the chance to hear directly from customers about their greatest challenges. Just a few weeks back, a seasoned sales ops manager at a super-hot converged infrastructure company told me, “Reporting is killing us. We need to give our reps faster, less intrusive ways to tell us what’s going on, so they can spend more time with customers.”

At my last company we built traditional enterprise apps. Our product was highly-regarded and sold well, but direct sales was difficult and inefficient. Reps wanted more time in front of customers. Managers wanted more visibility. Inefficient sales systems made that very challenging. I think sometimes about how annoyed Reed Hastings felt about returning videos before he founded Netflix. And I think the same thing about the time-sucking obstacles we put in front of sales reps: enough is enough. Not just for our business, but for any business. Now at Clari we get to fix it.

We believe the right focus for sales support is the rep in the field. How do reps work? Where do they work? How do they communicate? What makes their lives easier? All this requires a laser focus on what helps reps close deals. This is a 180° turn from traditional CRM – complementary, but totally different. Traditional CRM systems focus on reporting and forecasting to deliver the visibility executives need to run the business, not the needs of reps. The result? Companies spend enormous amounts of time and money trying to force reps to use their CRM system, only to have them ignore it.

Our mission is different: be indispensable to a rep and manager trying to hit a quarterly number. That means asking those questions about how reps really work…and making the user experience so easy, so seamless, so natural that they feel naked without it, just as all of us feel without our phones.

And the happy secret is giving reps what they need means you get far better insight into how they sell. By feeding that back into CRM, all the reporting and forecasting visibility improves. Serving the rep means adding value to the CRM system overall.

My new friend at the infrastructure company said it best at the end of our conversation: “We can become a $1 billion company without Clari, but we’d sure get there faster with a game-changing solution like this.”

What do you think? How much more productive could your reps be—and how much more accurate would their forecasts become—if their mobile phones became secret weapons to close more business while automatically updating CRM data to save reps even more time and improve data accuracy?

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