Response management solutions utilize AI-powered software to aggregate the content created by a company’s subject matter experts (SMEs), and make it readily available to everyone, on-demand. When content and knowledge from throughout an organization are consolidated and scored, response automation surfaces information for teams responsible for creating revenue, including sales and proposal management. By integrating this solution with other technologies such as a sales enablement software or CRM, the outcomes associated with the content are automatically surfaced, facilitating ongoing, data-driven content optimization for teams on the front line of revenue generation.
Why subject matter expertise is critical for optimizing buyer experiences
You know that person (or people) that every salesperson wants on their calls? They’re the ones constantly tagged in Slack for urgent answers, deeper insights, and technical responses – and for good reason, they regularly have the best answers. But it’s not just your sales team that wants them on those calls. Today’s buyers are intolerant of the phrase “let me get back to you on that.” They expect answers to their questions now, regardless of how technical or industry specific. As a result, SMEs in every organization are in high demand.
Since cloning them isn’t an option, the next best thing is response automation. As much as your sales team loves to have that SME on the call, they love winning deals even more. And your SME, for better for worse, probably doesn’t love having to answer the same questions day in and day out. That’s where response automation comes in.
Collecting all that good knowledge currently stored in the minds and hard drives around your organization and making it centrally available to the entire organization, on-demand. Not only does this achieve scalable access to SME expertise, but a centralized library of knowledge enables access to modern amenities like machine learning and AI to highlight which content is influencing revenue generation. This greatly reduces the demand on your SME’s time, allowing them to focus on innovative and new solutions, which is probably the work they really want to be doing. As with any role, being busy is not equal to making an impact, and we all want to know our work has purpose. More often than others, SMEs struggle to show their value in a tangible way and rely heavily on the sentiment of their teams to prove their worth. Response automation not only lets SMEs do the work they enjoy, but it gives their work exposure to management and their peers, with metrics to show where the successful topics resonate.
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B2B buyers expect consumer-like experiences
Buyers expect real-time answers to questions of all kinds, and they also want to feel special. Salesforce’s latest Connected Customer report makes clear the shifts in their preferences and how it is affecting purchase decisions. The report is based on a survey of 13,020 consumers and 3,916 business buyers from 29 countries globally.
The findings indicate that customer loyalty may be a thing of the past, with 71% of respondents stating they have changed brands at least once over the past 12 months alone. Not surprisingly in the current economy, pricing was the top reason followed closely by product quality – cited by 66% and 58% of respondents respectively. Third, and not too far behind was customer service (48%), a factor we all need to pay close attention to. Even business buyers are making decisions based on how well they perceive you that will take care of them after the deal is done.
Pre-pandemic marketers had nearly 17% of a buyer’s journey to influence this perception according to a pre-pandemic survey by Gartner of 750 B2B customer stakeholders. Even back then the dark funnel made up most of what a buyer knew and would experience. Bottom line, our funnel is not their journey and we need to be intentional about the brand image we portray long before a buyer is on our radar.
How Sales Enablement and Response Automation work together
Sales enablement and response automation have a symbiotic relationship within the sales, marketing and proposal management teams. With response automation, teams gain access to the latest SME content to assist with creating a robust response package. And, using sales enablement, teams can access collateral, spreadsheets, and diagrams for more compliant and comprehensive responses.
When the sales enablement and response automation platforms are integrated, teams get real-time access to relevant content without toggling between multiple applications. This greatly reduces sales enablement inefficiencies and increases engagement quality for sales teams. Teams become empowered by a more efficient workflow that helps them build winning proposals and generate greater business value.
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What Response Automation can do for your business
It’s critical that there is alignment between people, processes and systems within an organization. Response automation can help organizations standardize operations, improve communication, and trim response time so teams can spend more time driving revenue. Using response automation, teams can manage RFP and security questionnaire responses, create and manage sales proposals, and resolve inefficiencies rooted in decentralized and inaccessible content.
The beauty of response automation is that it can also integrate with CRM systems to harness the power of collective knowledge and content across their teams. Integrating a CRM with your response automation solution gives proposal and sales teams bi-directional access to all response management functionality. This means that whether teams are working in the CRM or a response automation platform, they can perform all response management functions – from launch to development to publishing – seamlessly, without any redundancy or confusion.
Teams will also see the immense value of real-time visibility and increased efficiency from integrating CRM and response management systems. This integration enhances reporting capabilities so project managers, directors and VPs of sales can identify which projects were successful, which RFPs were won, and how that impacted the CRM opportunity outcome.
“The Salesforce integration has helped us align sales and proposal teams. Now, sales has full visibility into project status. They can see how a current project is progressing, or check which future projects are in the queue, all from the RFPIO dashboard in Salesforce.”
— Lauren Joy, Proposal Team Manager at Hyland
Response automation is a game-changer for organizations as it helps them to easily streamline revenue opportunities for the organization and easily realize winning opportunities. With a powerful response automation solution, organizations will benefit from higher conversion rates and boosted bottom lines. In today’s era of uncertainty, it’s critical that we’re arming teams with the most robust solutions to enable them to do their best work.
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