By Howard Brown, Founder & CEO, RingDNA (www.ringdna.com)
Given the vast feature parity among CRMs, Salesforce’s ability to become the leader in global market share is largely due to its ability to integrate with disparate systems of record for data collection, automation, and analysis. Among all the different tools and data sets CIOs need to bring into Salesforce, voice integration has traditionally been a lower priority with the exception of customer service, where rep access to customer account has been vital. The role of voice is rapidly evolving, however, because telephony integrations now yield far more than just a richer data set for support reps. Productivity gains across several organizational layers are now a reality, as are visibility into brand evangelism, training tools and more.
Traditionally, voice platforms are linked to Salesforce through what are commonly referred to as computer telephony integration (CTI) applications. However, CTI is a broad term that refers to any interaction between telephony and computers. Such applications can connect Salesforce to both landlines as well as browser-based phones. Using CTI, organizations both capture call data in CRM and enable a variety of automation features which routinely accelerate business processes.
The Broad Business Benefits of Salesforce Telephony Integration
Integrating voice channels with Salesforce open up a world of benefits across multiple layers of your organization. One reason is the increasing importance to meet the customer wherever they are, whether they are pre-sale, in need of technical support or renewing an annual subscription. Here are some key ways that telephony integration can benefit various roles.
While field sales remain strong in certain industries like manufacturing and pharmaceuticals, tech companies have embraced a remote, high-touch sales model known as “inside sales.” While inside sales reps typically make heavy use of both email and the phone, voice remains the most important communication channel. According to a BIA/Kelsey a lead quality assessment, the phone remains the highest quality lead source, surpassing paid leads, forms, and email. Telephony integration enables companies to measure voice communications accurately. For example, capturing call metrics, logging call dispositions and updating lead fields automatically injects critical data into Salesforce while minimizing time spent on manual data entry.
However, Salesforce integration doesn’t simply aid in data collection. CRM-integrated voice platforms typically automate a host of sales activities. These include click to call from Salesforce objects, accelerated dialing through contacts lists, and automated voicemail (known as “voicemail drop”), which leaves pre-recorded voicemails stored in a library and logs voicemail callbacks in Salesforce. General productivity gains related to calls often exceed 40%, while increases in call volume and conversation rate top 2-3X.
Finally, during both inbound and outbound calls, screen pops can also be triggered to provide information about callers gathered from Salesforce account, lead and contact records. Such information provides context for the call, giving reps a higher likelihood of success.
Sales managers benefit from telephony integration as much (if not more) than reps themselves, since integrated call performance data does two very powerful things: 1) frees managers of the daunting task of enforcing manual data entry from calls in Salesforce, and 2) enables visibility into the most important part of their team’s sales process: the sales conversations that lead to closed business. Among the many reports sales managers commonly see are inbound call hold time, lead response time, number of conversations per day, number of outbound calls per day, talk time, the ratio of meetings to calls, and much more.
Also, call analytics enable managers to become more effective sales coaches. Continuous coaching beyond the initial training period is increasingly common since extremely low unemployment rates in the sales industry have led to average new sales hire with less than two years of experience. Commonly, managers use call performance analytics in Salesforce as directional data to locate struggling sales reps, then access call recordings in Salesforce to listen to sales conversations and provide feedback for improvement. Such feedback is often stored in the Salesforce record. These innovations can help compensate for experiential deficits, while providing intuitive user experiences that millennial sales reps have grown accustomed to.
While marketers are the first to meet customers in multiple channels, the phone has traditionally been a blind spot in terms of marketing attribution. Recently, however, CRM telephony integration finally offers full visibility of the ROI of marketing campaigns through voice. One application is the ability to track the volume and value of inbound calls driven by marketing campaigns. Call tracking works by assigning unique telephone numbers to various marketing channels, campaigns and search keywords. Such numbers appear dynamically on websites and other Internet properties. The ensuing inbound call sources are then tracked in Salesforce, while caller data – often including call recordings – is then appended to existing Salesforce lead, contact and account records.
Call tracking integrations offer marketers the ability to see exactly which efforts are not only converting to sales online but also over the phone. While call tracking originally just tracked leads from the phone, when call tracking is integrated with Salesforce, marketers can finally see which efforts result in calls that drive opportunities and revenue.
Last, but certainly not least, integrating the phone with Salesforce is beneficial to top-level executives. The data collected by integrated voice applications give executives deep visibility into how teams in the organization are functioning. This doesn’t simply empower executives to assess the front-line performance of sales reps, marketers, and customer service agents. Integrated voice applications also enable top executives to drill down several levels to assess the performance of regional managers and members of the executive team, offering visibility into the health of the entire organization.
Perhaps most importantly, executives can finally understand how well their team is handling brand evangelism. The words sales reps use, as well as the way they handle objections—and even their very sales approach—help customers form impressions of the brand in general. If you’re using Salesforce and haven’t yet integrated your company’s telephony system, I strongly recommend taking the leap. Real-time sales insight, smarter marketing investments, and more accurate revenue projections are just some of the opportunities waiting for you on the other side.