IHS Chemical Week


Tackling the Sales Productivity Challenge

6:11 AM MDT | May 28, 2009 | By BRIAN WILLSON, MICROSOFT

By Brian Willson, Microsoft

When visiting a customer of mine in the chemical industry, I asked the sales team how it started its day, and the unanimous answer was “checking my phone and e-mail for messages.” This is a common answer for most employees in any organization. But if I posed the same query to the information technology (IT) department, I suspect I would get a different response. That’s because the project stakeholders that make IT purchasing decisions for these sales teams assume their workforce launches customer relationship management (CRM) applications at the top of the day and then lives in those applications most of the day.

Many chemical companies today face a similar sales productivity challenge as stakeholders unaware of preferred work methods, customize company processes and select technology that may actually impede workflow. With sales as a primary focus, chemical companies cannot afford a time loss in this area. Sales leaders would argue, CRM software is the foundational business application, but there’s much more to consider. At the end of the day, sales productivity improvements should be focused on giving people more time to sell.

Case in point: The center of the universe for most sales people is not a centralized CRM application, but rather their own personal productivity tools. Sales people, like most other employees, want information to come to them in their environment, not the other way around. Given the choice, many would opt to work   in a productivity environment with which they are most familiar – a combination of phone, email, a unified communications client, calendar, contact and task lists.

Thus, to deliver sales productivity and in effect, make sales more productive, chemical companies can expand thinking beyond just CRM to include a personal productivity environment that works seamlessly together with current systems.

How is this applied in real practice? Arch Chemicals, a global biocides company with manufacturing and customer support facilities worldwide, recently deployed a CRM solution that integrates seamlessly into the sales teams’ work environments. Not only can users continue to work in familiar tools like Microsoft Outlook, but CRM information is sent directly to them. By providing up-to-date sales reporting and information, Arch Chemicals is reacting quickly to changes in its sales market, tracking its most profitable customers and products, and adjusting its sales strategy to the company’s fullest advantage. The end result is a sales force focused on selling and servicing, and not on IT tools. 

On June 2, 2009 Chemicalweek will host Driving Profitable Growth with CRM Software, a free-to-view webcast providing analysis on systems for boosting sales productivity, featuring speakers from Arch Chemicals and Microsoft. The webcast includes a case-study approach to generating value from CRM software.



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