The concept of CRM has shifted over the years from a Rolodex of business cards to a digital sales contact management system to its current incarnation as a fully-realised sales and marketing enablement solution. But as markets grow and fragment, and consumer behaviours and technologies evolve at a rapid pace, CRM must keep up with those changes in order to remain valuable to sales-driven organisations.
So what will CRM look like for the rest of 2018 and beyond? Here are a few of the trends currently shaping the space.
Integration of tools, features and services is a trend across every digital discipline, and for good reason-who wants to manage 15 different logins and dashboards and spend their days dealing with information silos and bottlenecks?
Software, in particular, is seeing high demand for all-in-one CRM software solutions due not only to the dozens of different data points that must be tracked for hundreds to thousands of customers, but also the need to view that data in a holistic way. A key benefit of CRM is the ability to create operational efficiencies and better salesmanship through data analytics, so it is vital that all of the customer information available is housed in a single system with the ability to parse it as needed.
And of course, teams from across the organisation stay within one system to accomplish their designated tasks, keeping the customer life cycle up to date and viewable in its entirety in one interface.
Although many CRM needs will overlap, every organisation is different-your customers, your sales teams, your sales and growth goals–all will require certain tweaks. For decades, we have heard business leaders complain that their existing CRMs are extremely difficult to customise. CRMs typically provide a base product that can technically be customised, but not without bringing in outside tech support such as developers and systems administrators to perform the actual adjustments and implementation.
The problem with this approach is that companies end up having to pay extra for additional features and setup and, in some cases, have to abandon a decision if the implementation does not go as planned and there isn’t high adoption.
When a CRM is designed with seamless customisation in mind from the start; however, organisations can easily make whatever tweaks they need and ramp up without external support resources or excessive downtime.
3. Visitor tracking
Visitor tracking allows your sales agents to add an additional level of engagement with prospects and customers. There is a tremendous amount of data that can be pulled from visitor tracking information, including macro-level insight like customer behavioral patterns across your industry, and more customer-centric details such as your prospects’ individual consumer research patterns.
For instance, you can use visitor tracking history information to see the pages that your prospect visited on a website, and use the topics of those pages as the key talking points in your discussions with the prospect, knowing for sure that these are their key areas of interest instead of having to guess. On top of that, you can use this insight to gauge who your most engaged prospects are and prioritise your outreach via phone, email or SMS.
Visitor tracking also lets you know which pages or content drive the most engagement on your site, and helps measure the effectiveness of marketing and advertising campaigns. Essentially, knowing where your customer has been lets you know where they want to go and how to meet them there.
4. Speech recognition
Think of the voice recognition on your phone or home media system-your Siri or Alexa or Echo. You can use it to type, find specific things within your phone or in the cloud, and even search the internet. A speech-recognition-enabled CRM works in much the same way, allowing you to dictate notes after calls with customers and prospects, quickly dictate and send timely email and text communications, as well as perform internet or database searches in an instant. Speech recognition ultimately increases productivity for people who want to work more quickly and efficiently, without being limited by how many words per minute they can type.
Voice recognition capabilities are already appearing everywhere, in dozens of applications, and you should start looking for that feature in CRMs now and in the coming year.
So how do you determine which CRM is right for you?
Play around with tools and ask a lot of questions from support. Write down three things you wish could be improved and ask your support representative about how to accomplish those things. If you can accomplish just one of the three things on your list, that’s already a huge win toward increased efficiency! The more you use a CRM, the more you will come to understand which features are best suited for your workflow.
Like with any new technology, the main hurdle to maximising your CRM is getting people on board and using all of the available features to their fullest. People are reluctant to move away from their existing processes, and sometimes forget about powerful tools that are built into a CRM platform. However, with proper investment of time in training, the benefits of today’s CRM are almost instantly realised and your team will wonder how they ever lived without it.