Solution for End-to-End Lead-to-Cash Workflow
As part of our Pick of the Week series, we requested an online demonstration of what sounded to be too easy, and were privy to a demo of Dell’s DCBA (Dell Cloud Business Applications) to see the lead to cash process from building customer awareness to sales contract. We were impressed at how far the industry, and Dell, has come in the last few years at solving the practical challenges around marketing and sales integration. Dell is providing enterprise-level CRM capabilities to SMBs that might have run into seven figures (and a year-long implementation) only 10 years ago. And going even further by tying all this front-office activity together with accounting to synchronize invoicing and billing into the process, insuring that sales staff can be paid without spending 12 hours a week updating their CRM records, and Finance does not have to chase down account managers for collections and accounts receivable updates on the 29th of every month.
Small and Mid-Market Companies Choose Online CRM as the Shortest Path to Revenue
The killer Enterprise Application to emerge at the end of the Client/Server era was CRM, which spawned a huge ecosystem of sales process, configuration and customization experts. The next step was online CRM solutions led by Salesforce.com, a true multi-tenant architecture and Cloud ecosystem in and of itself. The ample supply of CRM expertise, along with the market needs to generate revenue as quickly as possible resulted in a wave of online CRM start ups and then pure-play Marketing Automation vendors that were eager to plug into the accelerating number of customers opting for a services model.
Falling Through the Cracks
Even with the best CRM software and a lot of customization, even for those who spent the most on these systems, and especially large organizations, getting to a state of accurate and current information has always been a challenge. The perpetrators tend to be too many steps in the process, unclear roles and responsibilities, limitations in the software that force workarounds, ineffective hand-off of customer relationships, different levels of process and software maturity, and many others. Much of this was caused by contention for capital budgets, the complexity and expense of internal systems integration and never being able to get ahead of the technology curve, resulting in a large percentage of CRM implementations failing outright. Properly selected and integrated Cloud-based Applications like this one from Dell have already gone a long way to eliminate many of these challenges by offering a shared customer database approach from the very beginning.
Following the image above, it is quickly apparent that the demand and supply cycles are covered by this approach: Lead to Opportunity, to Proposal, to Customer Support, which is good for the customer. The internal operational cycle is also enabled from Marketing to Sales to Invoicing and Billing, to Customer Service, which makes life a lot easier for everyone involved.
The demonstration was recorded and we have included relevant excerpts that follow the process. Dell offers Pardot, a leading Marketing Automation Solution for marketing which connects automatically to Salesforce.com by synchronizing User-IDs from each component, in less than a minute. Sales Funnel, Alerts, Dashboard, Forecast are coordinated out-of-the-box, and rules are customizable between the applications.
Next comes Conga, which merges customer information, selected products and services, proposal template and cover letter into a print-ready quotation that shares all data with the appropriate customer and pipeline records.
EchoSign, an e-Signature solution from Adobe follows, allowing the customer to authorize the order securely and purchase immediately, which is always a good thing in Sales.
The next part of the solution solves the ever-present issue of ensuring the Sales and Accounting Systems contain and report the same information. This is accomplished using the process integration presented below:
Dell SMB Lead to Cash Process Automation 1 from Techaisle on Vimeo.
As shown in the image, the same information that is incrementally collected throughout the marketing and sales process is used to auto-populate the agreement, invoice and collections data within the accounting package, for our demo, this was done using QuickBooks Online, one of several pre-configured packaged integrations that do not require manual intervention except for company-specific policies and table structures.
Again, seeing it is more impressive than reading about it:
Dell SMB Lead to Cash Process Automation 2 from Techaisle on Vimeo.
What was the name of your company again?
The benefits of sharing information between Marketing, Sales and Accounting are equally or more important with Customer Service, which is the lifeblood of all companies’ online reputation these days. Taking the data one step further into customer service affords the advantage of having the full customer history at your fingertips while fielding support calls – which provides a higher level of satisfaction and smarter service capabilities.
Dell SMB Lead to Cash Process Automation 3 from Techaisle on Vimeo.
Why this is Important
This is important because it goes back to some basic principles that improve information system management, including:
Move Data, don’t type it more than once. Whether using drop downs to input categories and exact descriptions or whole sections of records or groups of records, moving data will result in fewer errors than typing it into the system. In addition to the accuracy this offers, it eliminates a lot of the drudgery associated with maintaining CRM systems and allows sales people to get back to selling.
Build Information Incrementally. Capturing the same data repeatedly will annoy customers and staff, records should be built up over time and sections of data moved to populate application modules as they are brought online. Dell’s solution does this through progressive web forms for customer records and by sharing data between marketing, sales, accounting and customer service.
Centralize Data. Trying to manage multiple customer databases is confusing, inefficient and causes a lot of frustration. Accuracy, Consistency, Reliability and Timeless are hallmarks of data quality and all suffer from running disparate databases of the same information. While data tends to take on a life of its’ own with volume and increased usage, starting with a design that shares information between systems will eliminate problems down the line and can actually give Small and Mid-Market businessesan advantage over Enterprise customers who have been wrestling with huge CRM database and internal IT for the past 15 years.
Keep it Simple, Get Going Fast. In a recent survey 77% of SMB complained that even there has been a lot of progress in the past few years, complexity managing IT has grown faster than the problems it is designed to eliminate. SMBs want to spend money on revenue generating activities and reducing costs, which means focus on the core business, not hiring people to manage IT adoption that cannot stay engaged full time on building the business. We were surprised at how easily this whole integrated solution came online, easy enough for a power user to manage and available to use in a matter of days, quicker for those who are familiar with CRM systems. The Dell solution comes with fixed fee, fixed scope implementation services for all of the applications they sell, making it easy for SMBs to get going quickly with a single vendor for support.
The Bottom Line
Dell’s DCBA solution was announced last September and has come a long way since introduction. In this example the demo provisioned a new account without need for any coding; userIDs tied Sales and Marketing together. Customers signed the necessary paperwork and and Invoicing data was moved automatically once the new account was opened in QuickBooks. For small and medium sized organizations, finding ways to make best use of their IT investments-- to streamline their sales processes, as in this example here, can be the path to increased sales and help them realize greater business success, and is certainly much easier and cost effective than it used to be.