Defined by analysts Aragon Research as a new category of enterprise software, so-called ‘Customer Revenue Optimisation’ (CRO) claims to be able to help brands “automate the selling process”.
Specifically, the claim is that you can section a corporate sales process into a set of definable actions that your reps and sales managers can then use to win deals, grow accounts and maximise revenue, whether it be new business or up-sells in an account. The alleged problem here is the communication gap between different parts of the business, so there’s insufficient attention being given the customer and their needs.
In any case, the group claims CRO thus “replaces” “legacy, analogue” selling methodologies with a more digital selling approach that helps guide the sales team to higher close rates, more pipeline, and higher deal values:
By making the overall approach to each step of a sale consistent and digital, CRO represents a critical digital transformation of sales organisations.
If this is true, then a lot of Fortune 500 organisations would be very keen to start using it; data suggests only 53% of sales people ever actually meet their quota, after all. The reality is that CRO is a very new entrant to the business software market, and is mainly the brainchild of one vendor, San Jose-based Salesforce-native player Altify.
But let’s not get too busy being sceptical here just yet - everyone has to start somewhere, and once upon a time people needed to be told what ‘CRM’ was. It turns out there might just be something here, based on the war stories shared with diginomica by one of Altify’s European clients, Orange Business Services.
The business services arm of French telco giant Orange, the company supports businesses and public sector organisations through every step of their digital transformation, and numbers brands like Air France, Haier and Siemens among its customers. Orange Business Services operates in 220 countries and territories, has a local presence in over160, and has some 25,000 employees worldwide.
So why should as successful an operation like this need something like CRO, which has been in place at the company for around two years? Its Global Head of Sales Enablement and Programmes, Amaury Lambert, explains:
Given the nature of our business and our market, we recognise that the environment has been changing constantly and rapidly, especially over the past year. Enterprises are under pressure to develop more integrated, intuitive products and services for their customers, they need to better leverage data through AI and automation to remain competitive. Business ecosystems are being created in virtually every sector to meet this need - it’s a ‘customer-first’ world now, market dynamics are changing fast, and so, so must we.
We aim to be the leader in the ‘Internet of Enterprises’ and also be a truly digital services integrator, addressing our customers’ key pain points at each stage of the journey to unleash the power of their data. Our focus on the data journey to enable business ecosystems is really resonating with our customers, so we started a full digital sales transformation in anticipation of the changes in the business environment and new market dynamics - recognising new customer needs, new business opportunities and therefore new ways of working required to outsell.
Our aim was to accelerate, simplify and increase international sales and velocity through new ways of working to drive more and better results and an outstanding execution - promoting a digital culture, and an unmatched end-to-end customer experience.
In practical terms, Lambert says, that meant instigating a process of early engagement and insight selling with his customers, putting the customer buying journey at the heart of sales enablement and equipping the sales function with the tools and competencies to reinforce this strategy across all teams. Hence the firm’s decision to start working with this particular supplier and the CRO approach:
It is a nice fit to our sales enablement strategy, as it covers strategy, methodology and technology - all critical pillars in a digital sales transformation. This is also supported through seamless integration with our existing CRM system, as well as our Global Sales Process, as we see both being key for rapid deployment, sustainability, improved efficiency and performance management. This software is helping us to achieve this by increasing sales velocity, efficiency and the win ratio, as it helps give us the framework, or structural approach, to uncover the unknown, so we’re always making sure we’re working on the right deals and using our resources in a smart way.
What does this translate to in terms of the bottom line? Lambert explains:
Global and consistent deployment of [CRO] is delivering results in terms of increased sales velocity - mainly from an efficiency and win ratio perspective, but also in terms of structure, execution and discipline. We think it’s doing that by providing us with a clear and objective qualification framework and a structured approach to uncovering and defining customer value which is critical in the very first and early steps of the customer buying journey, the crucial insight selling phase. Last but not least, when a broad spectrum of actors is engaged, CRO software gives us all a common language for communications and alignment.
Ultimately, we have a clear vision of the end-to-end buying process now; we know where we need to improve. And in terms of year-to-date sales, we have seen a 4% uplift where we use this tool where we do not. And at our size, and in this competitive and complex market, that is significant. Transforming the way you work takes time, so when I see the results we have with CRO, I just wish we got there faster.
That really is an achievement, and may well be of great interest to the managers of all those chronically-underperforming corporate sales teams. Here, Lambert has some useful advice, too:
Recruit the right salesforce and skills, define the right vision and objectives, and support them by a strong sales enablement strategy, including the right tools, process and methodology. You need to have a seamless story, end-to-end, not just focusing on one pillar, otherwise in the long term it is not sustainable.
Second, it is critical to have a clear vision in terms of the customer buying journey you want, and an understanding of what customers want to achieve, what they need to improve to be able to grow the business and the revenue, along with a customer-first attitude.