Last updated: CRM trends for modern times: Users want technologies that give back

CRM trends for modern times: Users want technologies that give back


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What are the CRM trends on the minds of customer relationship management users as they look to 2020? Across the spectrum of B2B companies, it’s surprisingly similar: Every B2B company using CRM wants greater adoption.

The trouble is, many in the biggest pool of potential users – sales reps – think their CRM system requires a lot of manual input, but gives nothing back in return.

CRM providers are working to change that. New capabilities (and some already existing) that sales reps value and want to use are coming.

These changes will move the traditional CRM platform from a system of record to a system that consistently “gives back” exactly what’s needed to drive adoption and deliver real-time insights.

CRM technology trends: Simpler, stronger, smarter

Wherever on customer visits around the world, CRM users are all saying the same thing – in slightly different ways:

“I need to streamline and better leverage automation.”

“I want to replicate the success of our top salespeople.”

“I want to strengthen our customer experience.”

“Help me make sense of my data using AI.”

What they’re really saying is they need to centralize data and make it more useful. Some of their ideas: success templates for sale reps, filled with next best action advice, and targeted playbooks based on product mix, deal size, personas, and the like that can be replicated across their entire organization.

Several of these themes are confirmed in the new Gartner Hype Cycle for CRM Sales Technology, which covers emerging and maturing CRM technologies for improving sales efficiency and effectiveness.

In Four Key Insights from the Gartner Hype Cycle for CRM Sales Technology, a Gartner research note, digital optimization (using data and insights to maximize current processes) and predictive/prescriptive-enabled technologies (for example, using machine learning to develop next best action recommendations) are described as the two primary drivers of investment and innovation.

Doing more with account and back-end operational data gathered by CRM – and making it available in new ways that are actionable for sales reps – is indeed an emphasis for CRM providers. An added goal is to make that data valuable and meaningful for the ultimate customer.

Cueing the right action with guided selling

For their part, CRM makers are smoothing the way for all things sales with new mobile apps, and, conversational AI to speed and simplify collaboration and client interactions.

And, Gartner predicts that in addition to sales enablement, three other notable technologies will be widely adopted in the next 5-10 years:

  1. Blockchain for lead generation
  2. Digital adoption solutions
  3. Conversational engagement analytics

Transforming the customer experience

The customer experience has become more crucial than ever, and it starts with the sales rep. To appeal to today’s informed buyers, every rep needs to find ways to provide value that differentiates them.

Here, guided selling technologies can offer some solutions by providing customer-facing insights that enhance the sales interaction, such as real-time market data.  Some guided selling apps have created an entire ethos around evolving how companies sell, putting far greater focus on the customer throughout the sales process.

Integrating and parsing the operational and customer experience data already being captured by some CRM systems can also be used as an advantage. New abilities to identify and anticipate buyer needs (Gartner’s predictive/prescriptive driver) will enable B2B companies to:

  • Know when customers are up for renewal or up-sell
  • Evaluate customer health and potential churn accounts

These insights will inform and give sales reps new reasons to actively and authentically engage with an account.

Intelligent CRM technologies

Leveraging AI is already considered standard for every B2B enterprise. But to be truly productive, AI has to be pointed.

CRM providers are working with AI in a multitude of ways to sift through the noise inherent in all the account data (such as unqualified leads). Companies can expect new functionality such as account scoring that will drive sales efforts and revenues.

As for the desire to replicate successes, AI is already being incorporated, for example, in some guided selling apps to track marketing materials to closed sales, allowing best sales practices to be built, and influencing the development of future materials.

Getting to the goals of CRM technology

B2B companies know they want these new capabilities. Is anything standing in the way?

One of the biggest hurdles will be standardizing their CRM implementation, likely a necessary step to take advantage of these newer capabilities. Figuring out where to standardize and modify internal processes will likely require compromise, and some hard decisions.

For adding specialized apps, obstacles can include time to value – how turnkey is it? And, will sales reps use it?  Some are fully integrated with the larger CRM systems and deploy quickly.

To solve the worry about usage, a roll-out to a small group or a single division is recommended to establish an early win.  From there, the benefits of broader deployment usually become obvious.

Undoubtedly, making CRM information actionable and ideally, valuable to end customers presents exciting possibilities for 2020 – possibilities that can only have a positive impact on revenues, and, that promise to give sales reps plenty of new reasons to use and respect their CRM system. These are the CRM trends that will be on the radar of folks using customer relationship management software. See guided selling on the SAP App Center for more information.

It’s not your father’s CRM.
Boost customer relationships.
Win loyalty.
Drive revenue.
The future of business starts HERE.

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