The Evolution of CRM
Customer relationship has been the key element of business since time immemorial. Right from the stages of barter exchange to today’s modern business which relies heavily on technology, the customer relationship is what determines a successful business transaction for services and/or commodities sold.
For today’s modern sales organization, CRM is a foundation tool to sell. In this era of internet where knowledge is practically free, we have seen the evolution from big MNC’s to thousands of start-ups. Most products and services that are in the market today face stringent competition and selling is more difficult than ever.
You won’t see hundreds of customers lined up outside, at 6:00 am waiting for the next major product release from an IT cloud storage company or for a new clothing line that has been launched and is a new brand in the market. Buyers may chase a product like Apple or Nike, but these are the rare ones, right? But for the most part, the sellers need to chase after the buyers to keep their business alive.
Keeping this in mind, keeping track of customers will determine a closed sale vs a lost opportunity. According to the CMO’s 2018 Highlights & Insights Report, buyers feel that customer service is the crucial factor that impacts their purchasing decision, so neglecting your customers and ignoring their journey could sink your brand in a blink of an eye.
A recent LinkedIn survey revealed that ‘77% of top Salespeople rely on Sales intelligence tools’. Hence customer relationship management is a serious subject of consideration and any sales-dependent company without a decent CRM platform to support its sales team is entering the battle arena unarmed.
If you don’t have Sales Operations or Sales Enablement upgrading your sales stack to track the buyer journey you are falling behind!
Days when everything, was written down by hand or kept in poorly organized spreadsheets are done. In this hype-riddled world of enterprise IT, CRM solutions are more sophisticated than ever helping companies of all sizes keep track of their customers and automate common sales and marketing tasks. Keep in mind that as technology evolves, so does CRM, with every year introducing a stack of new trends and challenges.
EVOLUTION OF CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT (CRM) SYSTEMS
The technologies that drive customer relationship management may differ radically but they all aim for the same goal i.e. to know more about their customers and consistently provide experiences that delight them.
A revisit to this evolutionary journey of CRM systems will just reflect on how serious this matter is:
– The Beginning: Business used paper, pen, pad and a filing system to collect and track customer information
- The beginning of Database Marketing
- Businesses could now analyze customer information
- Era of Personalized communication began
- With computer’s entering the market, spreadsheets took over
- Software development was trending
- Sales Force Automation was kick-started
– 1995: the term CRM came into existence
- Late 90’ was the evolution of mobile and SaaS
- First mobile and SaaS product entered the market
-2000s: The Age of Start-ups and Innovation
- CRM matures to incorporate all business interactions and processes on a single platform
- Cloud adoption was catching up and Mobile CRM was a revolution
- Social CRM was famous
– 2010s: The Age Automation, AI, ML, IoT, Blockchain
- CRM integration with BI services & communication systems
- Robust CRM designed for various industry verticals, LOB, sales process or market focus
- Improvements in data analytics reporting and visual dashboards
- Extensive use of AI and ML
According to Gartner, SaaS is sky rocketing and is now a $37.7 billion industry.
These shifting demands of business require CRM platforms to continuously improve their capabilities to keep fuel businesses that use them by ensuring profitability and optimized customer journey. These fancy terms like AI, ML, IoT, Blockchain are nothing but the means to create the need for the next generation of CRMs. These prioritize customer engagement and experience for their users.
FUTURE TRENDS TO RESHAPE THE FUNCTIONALITIES, SCOPE, AND IMPACT OF CRMS.
Customer centricity is the key: CRM will focus on creating engagement and experiences that delight the customer.
A Voice- for both customers and sellers: Smart voice assistants will be a demand not only for back office support but also to help reps with tedious tasks.
AI and ML will become a norm: For higher customer success, CRMs will increasingly to smart algorithms and neural networks to assist humans with better decision making.
Blockchain technology: For security-related capabilities blockchain may find a huge application in protecting customer data.
IoT: Data produced everywhere will improve customer success. Connected CRMs will help users significantly improve customer service/success efforts.
Mobile: Complete sales engagement via mobile can be empowering.
Personalization: One-size-fits-all CRMs will find it more difficult to close a deal. Customizations and personalization are an increasing demand among the tech-savvy sales teams.
Social Network Component: CRMs without a social network component are dead.
My personal favorite CRM is Salesforce. The evolution and the maturity in Salesforce CRM are well reflected by the constant market relevant releases and widespread user base. Some statistics like these are the check points to what a revolution Salesforce is headed to create:
- Salesforce has over 150,000 paying customers
- Companies that switch over to Salesforce on average will see a 25% increase in revenue
- Salesforce customers say they have seen on average a 25% increase ROI for marketing
- Companies that use Salesforce see an increase of customer satisfaction by 35%
- With the use of Salesforce, customer service agents have an increase of 34% productivity
- More than 88% of Fortune 100 companies use at least one Salesforce App
- Salesforce has acquired 50 companies since its founding in 1999 and 10 of these companies were
- acquired in 2016 alone
- Salesforce commands about 20% of the CRM market share
- 58% of Salesforce Customers Have Plans to Integrate Additional Salesforce Clouds