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What to look for in a Salesforce Partner?

Are you looking for a Salesforce implementation partner? Here are 5 key factors to consider while picking an ideal Salesforce partner.

So, you have decided to go with Salesforce as your CRM software! The choice is quite obvious, Salesforce being the leading name in the CRM software market. It is the world’s largest CRM platform, an ever-evolving ecosystem with incredible benefits and rich functionalities for its users. It is a Cloud based, flexible, easy to use CRM and you can customize it to meet your business specifications. Plus, it has a diverse community of professionals always ready to support and help grow your business, making it the most popular and widely adopted CRM platform across the globe.

But, how do you plan on implementing Salesforce CRM into your system? For many businesses, it might seem easy and more economical to “DIY” the whole CRM implementation program. However, trying to cut initial costs doesn’t always pay off. Salesforce is a vast and diverse platform; more than just a CRM, which is why it is recommended to implement Salesforce with the help of expert consultants.

Again, when you set out looking for experts, you are clearly spoilt for choice. There are literally hundreds of Salesforce providers in the market, with competitive pricing and promising benefits. Selecting the right Salesforce consulting partner is your first step towards successful Salesforce implementation and to make things easier for you; we have listed out here the five key points to consider while selecting a Salesforce partner for your business.

Salesforce Certifications

Majority of Salesforce consulting partners claim to have Salesforce “certified” employees on their team. Salesforce conducts several basic and advanced certifications for developers, administrators and consultants. Moreover, it requires its members to pass release exams thrice every year to ensure that they are up to date with the technology and maintain the claim to their title.

It is therefore essential to ensure that your consultants are not just Salesforce certified, but are also thorough with the core technology and proficient with all latest Salesforce advancements.

Implementation Experience

A key factor to determine the worthiness of a Salesforce partner is to look at their prior experience with Salesforce projects. How many Salesforce projects have they successfully carried out? How recent or old are they? Recent successful projects indicate that the vendor is still doing well in the market and can be considered.

What do clients say about them? Customer reviews are a great way to estimate the reliability and measure the performance of a vendor in the market. Look out for positive as well as negative comments and note what customers specify. Also, remember that successful Salesforce implementation is more about quality than quantity.

Industry / Domain Expertise

In order for your Salesforce implementation to be successful, go for a partner who has a fair understanding of your domain and industry, someone who has done similar projects in the past and can handle your business requirements efficiently.

It will then be easier for you to implement Salesforce, suggest changes, integrate and customize your CRM requirements. Also, since Salesforce implementation is a collaborative effort, it will be much easier for your internal teams to work with a Salesforce partner who understands your business processes well.

Value for Price

Now that you’ve decided to implement Salesforce CRM in your organization, it calls for a detailed planning and budget. Estimate your CRM requirements, the costs of Salesforce implementation, integration and training. Take into consideration the initial and overhead costs, which might include licensing, consulting fees as well as support service costs.

Although the initial implementation costs might seem to be somewhat higher, Salesforce once implemented brings greater ROI to your business. An ideal Salesforce partner will not only help you plan your budget, but will carry out the implementation efficiently around a reasonable budget within specified timelines.

Long-term Support

An investment in Salesforce is a long term business strategy and leads to a phenomenal organizational change. A successful CRM project is not just confined to implementation and training. Several aspects come into picture post implementation.

These might include CRM maintenance, technical or admin support and system upgrades. It is advisable to select a partner that is willing to be available as a long-term partner and can offer you post implementation admin and maintenance support, at least for a year.

With outstanding features and amazing business benefits, Salesforce has captured the CRM market entirely. However, success largely rests on how well it is implemented in an organization. Consider these key factors while looking out for your ideal implementation partner and select a vendor who doesn’t just hold the expertise and experience, but is also reliable with a good track record.

Advanced Analytics – A Boon for Insurance Providers

Data generated, collected and processed in huge volumes led to this massive phenomenon called Big Data. This big data eventually gave rise to the revolution of analytics. Although interpretation and analysis of data has been around for ages, with advancements in technology and development of business intelligence tools, advanced analytics came into picture.

Analytics is what adds value to raw business data and provides key insights for making profitable business decisions. Today, analytics is at the core of nearly every industry and every business, and insurance is no exception.

Here are 5 ways analytics is seeping into the insurance industry and transforming it like we have never seen before.

Sales Productivity

Gone are the days when insurance sales were done by visiting people door-to-door or making multiple cold calls. These traditional sales practices are not only redundant, but don’t always guarantee a sale. Insurance companies are now leveraging technology to carry out sales smartly and more effectively.

Sales analytics studies available customer data and enables data-driven prospecting. This saves a lot of time and effort otherwise involved in identifying and qualifying leads, thereby enhancing sales productivity of insurance agents.

Personalized Marketing

Customers are attracted by personalized offers. It gives them the confidence that you know them well and know what’s best for them. It is the essence of customer satisfaction. Advanced analytics allows insurance providers carry out effective personalized marketing programs.

By analyzing customer buying behavior, market trends, previous investments and even health information, insurers are now able to design personalized policies, reach out to customers at the right time through the right channels and engage them more effectively. Analytics also enables insurers to run customized cross selling and up-selling campaigns to nurture existing customers.

Improved Underwriting

Underwriting is one of the most crucial functions in insurance, stock markets and banking. In insurance, underwriters measure the risk and determine the feasibility of insuring a client. Based on certain guidelines and parameters, such as the client’s income, age, ailments, vehicle type, property type and location etc. the insurance cover and the premium payable by the client is decided. Underwriting analytics uses intuitive tools to gain a 360-degree visibility of client profile, predicts credit scores and measures risk per policy ratio. Many insurers are now using analytics for accurate and efficient risk scoring, evaluation of premium and insurance cover.

Faster Claims Management

When a person files an insurance claim, it goes through a claims settlement process. The insurer validates the claim based on predefined merits and once approved, the claim amount is settled. Typically, this is a lengthy process and takes a few days. However, customers expect claims to be settled faster and more easily.

Thankfully, with the use of advanced analytics, claims can be validated and settled much quicker, leading to lesser customer complaints and improved satisfaction levels. By analyzing claims and claim histories, insurers can now arrange for instant payouts, score, prioritize and process claims based on experience and loss type.

Fraud Detection

Frauds are quite common in insurance. Fraudulent claims cause major financial losses to insurers, affect their relationships with clients and hamper their growth amidst growing competition. All insurance companies need a strong fraud detection and prevention system. Predictive analytics helps mitigate the risk by predicting a potential fraud with the help of algorithms and BI tools. It also establishes a more accurate and strict process of passing claims by cross-verifying every step with client history, data mining and even text mining.

Insurance is a data intensive industry. Insurers collect and process huge volumes of data every day. Advanced analytics is certainly a boon for the industry, helping insurance providers dig deeper into this data, work more efficiently and make well informed decisions.

Global IT Spending to hit $3.7 Trillion. But where’s the money going?

Technology largely influences business operations and drives market competition in today’s digital world. As enterprises realize the need to transform digitally for survival and growth their overall investment in technology surges substantially. From managing enterprise operations to enhancing customer relations and maintaining data security, the demand for IT services is constantly increasing.

Gartner analysts forecasted 2018 to be a milestone year with worldwide IT spending to reach $3.7 trillion, nearly double the growth seen in 2017. It is the highest annual growth rate of 6.2% that Gartner has predicted since 2007. With that said, it is interesting to understand where exactly enterprises are spending and which technology trends are fueling these investments.

Data Center Systems

Big data is growing bigger by the day. No matter how big or small a business is, it generates tremendous amounts information. This big data is a vital asset and all businesses need an effective plan to deal with such voluminous data.

The need for efficient data management systems is urging businesses across industries to invest in new-age data centers, networked computers and storage solutions to organize, process, store and disseminate large amounts of data in a systematic way. Gartner predicts an overall increase of 2.6% in global IT infrastructure spending, including a noticeable inclination towards hybrid data centers.

Enterprise Software Solutions

More and more businesses are now adopting enterprise software solutions and business productivity tools. Enterprise software applications bring efficiency by automating and streamlining core business activities such as business intelligence, enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, supply chain management, project management, accounting, billings and more.

The overall spending on enterprise software is expected to reach $391 billion by the end of 2018, a projected growth rate of 10.5%. These figures indicate that businesses are leveraging technology to enhance business performance and the spending on enterprise software is likely to rise at a similar rate in the years to come.

End-User Devices

Smartphones are getting smarter and end-user devices are being improvised with each day with features such as biometric identification, machine learning and AI capabilities. Despite the growing prices of mobile phones, tablets and laptops, the worldwide demand of technology devices is projected to reach $706 billion, a big jump of 6.6% from 2017.

The traditional PC market however, is expected to decline by 3.9%. The demand for end-user devices is largely impacted by several other factors like socio-economic conditions of a region.

IT Services

The emergence of Cloud computing and technology as a service have transformed the IT services market to a great extent. A significant growth of 6.2% is expected in worldwide spending on IT services, including a momentous shift towards Cloud-based platforms, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Integrated Platform as a Service (IPaaS) and other application based IT services.

“The IT buying landscape is changing: Digital business transformation is an effort to create connected, platforms and new industry revenue streams,” says Mr. John-David Lovelock, research Vice President at Gartner.

Communication Services

The communication industry is a huge market comprising of telecommunications, entertainment, media, and Internet/Web services. The global communication services market is expected to grow by 3.2% by this year end, maintaining a rather steady growth rate.

Geographical and regional factors cause a major impact on the demand for telecommunication services. Countries in Asia Pacific and South America are projected to drive the maximum growth in the market in the coming future.

The pace with which new technologies are emerging and taking over the IT landscape is phenomenal. These statistics and forecasts clearly indicate that a worldwide digital transformation is on its way. If 2018 is the year of rapid growth in IT spending, it is just the start and there’s a long way to go.

5 Reasons Your Business Needs a CRM Software

In a world where customer is the king, what is your strategy for success? Smart businesses know that a happy customer is their biggest asset, and always put customers first. Satisfied customers tend to stick around for long, spread positive word about your business and are more likely to refer your services to others. However, building strong and long-lasting customer relationships is a lengthy process and requires years of effort.

Fortunately, advancements in technology have simplified the practice of building customer relationships and helped businesses offer high quality customer satisfaction with ease. Today, companies are using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to attract, nurture and serve customers better. Customer Relationship Management is a set of best practices, strategies, tools and technologies that enable better customer interactions and allow businesses to develop great customer relations, thereby increasing sales and growing business revenues.

The average global spending in CRM software is expected to reach $40 billion by the end of 2018, which evidently points that more and more businesses are now realizing the importance of customer satisfaction. If you too have been contemplating about getting a CRM software for your business, here are 5 critical reasons why you certainly should.

Faster Sales

The primary objective of a CRM software is to help streamline your entire sales process and close deals faster. CRM comes with a set of tools and software solutions that help you capture and qualify leads efficiently, schedule and manage customer meetings, follow up systematically and prioritize sales activities as per customer preferences. This enables you to close deals in your sales pipeline faster with greater ease. CRM applications can help increase sales by up to 29%, sales productivity by up to 34% and improve sales forecast accuracy by 42%.

Effective Marketing

Cut-throat market competition and dynamic customer demands are pushing businesses to scale up their marketing activities in order to stand out. CRM software is a powerful marketing tool that helps businesses automate marketing activities and achieve better results. It allows businesses to analyze market trends, watch consumer behavior closely and hit the target market through the right communication channels. It also enables marketers to plan and manage campaigns efficiently and engage customers successfully in the long run. A recent report published by StrongView states that 60% small businesses are planning to adopt CRM for their email marketing initiatives in the upcoming years.

Greater Productivity

CRM aligns your people and processes in a way that they tend to become more productive. CRM tools replace redundant day-to-day activities with automated workflows, saving time and streamlining sales operations to a great extent. New innovations such as mobile CRM bring greater flexibility by allowing easy access to customer insights anytime, anywhere. A recent study shows that 3 out of 10 sales reps report improvement in productivity by 20% with the use of CRM software.

Customer Information Management

CRM packages help sales and marketing staff to store your customer information in a centralized customer database, mostly over the Cloud. It offers a comprehensive, 360-degree view of customer contact details and complete information of all your interactions with every customer. 74% of users said their CRM system gave them improved access to customer data. Easy access to customer data helps sales reps to nurture prospects and plan follow ups effectively. CRM vendors also comply with IT security standards, ensuring that all your data is secure and protected from cyber threats like data loss or theft.

Effective Customer Engagement

Every customer wants to be valued and treated well. Effective customer engagement involves supporting clients throughout the customer journey and retaining them in the business for a fairly long time. CRM helps you analyze customer behavior and buying patterns, allowing you to offer personalized deals from time to time. 47% CRM users say that their CRM had a significant impact on customer retention and customer satisfaction. Automated customer service tools help you resolve complaints/issues effectively and support customers 24×7. A satisfied customer tends to stay loyal and is more likely to refer your brand to others.

CRM is a buzzword in the modern business world for all the right reasons. It adds value to your business; helps grow sales and keeps your customers happy. Moreover, it is easy to use, flexible and highly intuitive. The future of sales lies in building successful customer relationships and adopting a CRM software is the best way to reach there.

Sources: Salesforce, Software Advice, Capterra, Super Office

Technology Trends that are redefining the Insurance Industry

Technology is disrupting all industries, and it is leaving significant footprints in the insurance industry too. Here are 5 technology trends that are impacting the insurance industry.

Human lives and businesses are constantly surrounded by risks and uncertainties. The insurance industry plays a vital role in mitigating these risks and enables smooth functioning of an economy. It is a complex industry that covers a wide range of risks and is governed by numerous laws and regulations. Although these factors have led to a rather slow evolution of the insurance sector, it has come a long way. Innovations in the marketplace, technology advancements and digital interactions are transforming and modernizing the industry.

Technology is both streamlining insurance business processes and enhancing customer experience, leading to a dramatic overall improvement in the way the industry operates. In order to sustain and grow in a rapidly digitizing world, the insurance sector needs to adopt emerging technologies and redefine their ways of operation. In this article, let’s take a look at the top five tech trends that are shaping the future of the insurance industry.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence is a disruptive technology that is impacting all industries across the globe and insurance is no exception. It is gradually seeping into almost all aspects of the insurance sector, adding value to the business processes.

Today, machine learning algorithms are being leveraged in evaluating risks and identifying suitable insurance offers for customers. Enterprises are also combining AI with core activities such as claims processing and underwriting to enhance efficiency and achieve greater accuracy. AI-driven chatbots are allowing insurance companies to serve and support customers better with smart, human-like interactions.

Big Data and Advanced Analytics

It’s the era of big data. Insurance companies accumulate chunks of data from individuals and business houses on a daily basis. This voluminous data becomes difficult to store, manage and analyze in the long run.

To manage big data efficiently and make sense of silo data sets, insurance companies are now upgrading their data management systems and leveraging the power of analytics. Big Data technology stores and retains huge volumes of structured and unstructured data. Analytics enables businesses to arrive at meaningful and actionable insights. It also allows businesses to offer personalized insurance offers, and drive profitability in business.

Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing is turning out to be a game-changer in the business world due to its prominent features like cost-effectiveness, high security and easy deployment. Several insurance businesses are now shifting towards Cloud platforms to run and manage day-to-day business activities.

Today, wide-ranging processes including premium billings, claims processing and policy management can be carried over the Cloud resulting in huge cost savings on servers and technical support staff. Adopting Cloud technology helps insurance providers gain operational efficiencies at lower costs and with less manual intervention.

Blockchain Technology

Blockchain is a Distributed Ledger Technology that is cryptographically protected with digital signatures. All transactions carried on a Blockchain platform are highly secure and traceable at each point. The insurance sector has begun to use Blockchain for client validation and identification of fraudulent activities, like false claims and approvals.

Transactions involving high-cost assets are tracked and validated on a distributed ledger, and the identity of a claimant is verified using trusted identity providers. The integrity of Blockchain technology helps minimize counterfeiting, double booking, contract alterations and fraudulent claims. It also brings about higher transparency and security in the overall insurance journey; right from client onboarding to policy management and claims processing.

Internet of Things

The era of smart objects has set in, and the insurance industry is making the most of IoT in driving business profits. Insurance providers are now developing creative and tailored insurance solutions for IoT-driven products such as self-driven cars and connected homes.

With the help of sensory technology, huge volume of data is collected from IoT-driven devices. Analytics helps in deriving actionable insights from this data and offering personalized solutions to customers. For instance, insurance providers are using data collected from wearable health and fitness devices to offer tailored health insurance products to users.

The insurance sector is subject to a complex infrastructure and legal restrictions. However, with disruptive technologies like these, it has grown and modernized to a great extent. Admittedly, the industry is still in a nascent phase of digital transformation. The future of insurance enterprises now depends on how open they are in embracing latest technologies and keeping up with changing times.