What Your CRM Won’t Tell You
Every B2B telecom company has a CRM. Most have invested millions of dollars to make it the ‘single source of truth’ for their customer information. But the feedback we’ve gathered from telecom sales reps is nearly unanimous: It’s a huge pain to figure out which of their deals are renewing and when, if it’s even possible at all.
They don’t know the next renewal date, or the notification period, or the renewal term. Or where they have products that are ‘off-contract’ because the deal has expired, but the product is still billing.
When it comes to revenue retention, sales renewals should be the lowest hanging fruit. If that’s the case, why is it such a struggle to proactively identify and execute renewal opportunities using your CRM?
Renewals should happen like clockwork, but almost never do
Sales ops leaders agree—CRM systems should be able to identify renewals. After all, there’s a field in most systems called renewal date!
But the sad fact is, CRMs are only as good as the info that gets entered (and when). Meaning sales ops teams are constantly creating workarounds to help their reps identify renewals. Maybe they add a field to the opportunity or contract object. They may do an annual pre-population of renewal opportunities. They provide an extract of inventory/billing systems. Or they simply give reps raw PDF files of contracts. Let’s be clear—these are NOT best practices.
To complicate matters further, sales reps often maintain parallel spreadsheets and as a result, create their own parallel renewal opportunities. Worst case scenario, they ignore renewals altogether because the data is wrong and it’s too hard to find the correct information.
This chasm between what sales leadership thinks is going on (clockwork renewals) and what’s really happening on the ground (weak or untouched renewals) can be traced to a handful of root causes:
#1 The right date never makes it into the system.
Most telecoms have grown via acquisition. Contracts from these acquisitions are spread over a variety of sources and haven’t matriculated into the CRM. For net new deals, (let’s be honest) sales teams aren’t known for their data entry rigor. Unfortunately, they often don’t enter the right data into the CRM or they enter it incorrectly.
#2 The required information is scattered across your CRM.
An enterprise deal may have a master agreement, multiple pricing schedules and been amended several times. There may be dozens or hundreds of products purchased by one customer. The contract information is typically spread across individual contract or opportunity objects, and the product information is sitting in one (or more) inventory systems.
#3 Figuring out what’s renewing requires calculations.
Determining a renewal date often requires interpreting and combining multiple pieces of information. A signed deal may say something like, “The term of a product commences on the installation date and continues for three years. The product will then renew for five successive one-year terms on the anniversary of the installation date, unless terminated.”
To calculate the renewal date, first you need to find the install date—which is probably sitting in a billing or provisioning system. Then you need to combine that data with the contractual term information. Only then can you accurately calculate the renewal date for the product.
For contract renewals, the term may not start until the first product is ordered. This is at the root of why it’s so hard to find potentially at-risk products that are ‘off-contract’ or are continuing after the original deal has gone month-to-month. Of course, there’s also the issue of amended deals, auto-renewals and recalculating dates.
#4 The date is never updated.
Let’s say you launch a big project to track down all of your contracts, centralize them in the CRM, and calculate all of your renewal dates. Without ongoing maintenance, the data goes bad within weeks.
If a deal renews, who is updating the next renewal date? What if it’s a month-to-month term? Or if it’s amended part way through? Or a new deal is signed? As we discussed in point #1, sales people aren’t known for data entry thoroughness—their focus is understandably on closing more deals.
#5 People ignore the information.
Maybe you’ve made renewals a sales team priority, but they still aren’t being actively worked. Like we said, sales execs focus on closing deals. That leaves little time or interest in searching for customer relationship info.
That’s why pushing the information they need for renewals via Chatter, email alerts or other internal tools is key to adoption. Even this requires some nuance. Too many alerts and they ignore them. Too infrequent, and they forget. We’ve seen companies have a lot of success with a monthly cadence of emails to sales that highlight the renewals they should be working that month.
What is the solution?
It is possible to provide your team with an accurate understanding of upcoming renewals and off-contract revenue. By understanding where the CRM falls short, best-in-class telecoms are taking steps to align and maintain contractual details for a more comprehensive and proactive view of the full commercial relationship and greater renewal effectiveness .
In my next article in this Telecom Best Practices series, we’ll dive into Renewal Prioritization. Learn how companies are prioritizing their sales team’s renewals, preparing ‘renewal packets’ of the right information and improving offer strategy to drive stronger renewal outcomes.