We recently asked Barton Goldenberg, arguably the world’s foremost CRM consultant, what trends he thought would be driving the CRM market over the next few years. Here’s a summary of what he told us:
Trend #1. Increased Consolidation and Mergers among CRM Vendors. Responding to customer pressure to provide comprehensive applications, CRM vendor consolidation by major players is likely to increase. Some small CRM vendors, particularly those in well defined niche markets, will survive. Likely impact: Sales teams will have more comprehensive CRM software offerings to choose from.
Trend #2. Increasing Focus on the SMB Segment. Companies employing less than 1,000 people are now adopting CRM software in greater numbers. Consequently, the SMB market has become increasingly attractive to CRM software vendors. CRM applications targeting SMBs offer easy to implement solutions with an opportunity for a quick ROI. Likely impact: Sales teams will be able to choose from a range of better CRM software offerings in tune with SMB needs.
Trend #3. Increased Use of Business Intelligence Analytical Tools. These tools can now predict the monetary value and profitability of a particular customer: from profiling customers based on their behavior to segmenting markets; from predicting customer purchases based on past purchase information and psychographic/demographic data; and from determining cross-selling opportunities. Likely impact: Sales teams will have better, faster analysis of what is happening within their businesses, which will allow managers to make better informed decisions.
Trend #4. Increased Number of Mobile, Real-time CRM Offerings. CRM vendors continue to develop and release CRM application modules, especially those that are bundled with or work on a large variety of handheld and/or wireless devices. Many will use the cellular network – not wireless hotspots – to transfer information, which means the user does not have to go to a hotel lobby to access the CRM system. Likely impact: Sales teams will have new options for improving customer satisfaction, productivity, and financial performance.
Trend #5. Increased CRM Offerings via the SaaS Model. CRM software vendors are increasingly offering CRM software solutions via the Software as a Service (SaaS) model. The SaaS model can circumvent traditional problems with the client-server model including high prices, cumbersome deployments, and the inevitable software upgrades. Likely impact: Sales teams will have more access to value-added services and sales management will be able to implement CRM at a lower cost than in previous years.
Trend #6. Increased Availability of Sales Coaching Tools. CRM vendors are now providing users with the ability to access sales coaching functionality within their CRM applications. Sales coaching tools can include specific sales tips within each sales stage, along with sales strategies for various sales situations. These sales coaching tools can help each individual sales rep make step-by-step, measurable improvements to their performance. Likely impact: The ability to increase the effectiveness of sales reps for successfully completing each sales step within a sales process, leading to greater efficiency in closing sales.
Trend #7. Increased Availability of Web 2.0 Functionality. CRM vendors are now providing access to a second generation of Web-based services that emphasize online collaboration and sharing among users. It is a world where computers and other technology have shifted from a means of one-way static communication to platforms for interaction and community building. Likely impact: Sales teams will have access to more CRM software functionality that enhances the goals of Web 2.0 – greater online collaboration and sharing among users.
Trend #8. Increased Implementation of CRM Software by CRM Vendors. CRM vendors are now offering implementation of their CRM software in-house as an incentive to their customers to purchase their CRM software application. Prices for such implementation have dropped as much as 40 percent from 2007 prices as user-friendly application development toolkits based on open standards have become the norm. Likely impact: Sales teams will have more appropriate CRM implementation offerings to choose from, thereby increasing the overall potential for success.