CRM in the future: How should it be?

Few yeaCRM softwarers before…CRMs were clunky, unmanageable, poorly designed and most importantly expensive! Automating the business process through the CRM was a distant dream. While the large corporations did manage to get hold of the CRM (with huge hardware and set up cost), small investors had to manage sales, marketing and customer-support manually.

Early 2000 marked the onset of a new era-online CRM. Now CRM was introduced with the ‘anyone can buy and access' USP. It was indeed the revolutionary period for the CRM software industry. Thanks to the further developments that took place in the later years that made CRM an all-in-one application suitable for every enterprise.

The reason behind discussing the growth of CRM from the past to the present is to prepare the pitch for the question-What is the next CRM evolution?

At present, many CRM blogs and forums are indeed flooded with this subject. The rapid changes in the business operational structure have left many CRM experts wondering - How will CRM adopt to the upcoming changes? Will there be another revolutionary development in this software application? Or will it continue to perform as now?

Before I delve into some of the predictions that have been made about future CRM, let's give you a brief hint about why the changes are necessary. A recent survey conducted by a technological and research data center focused on the present CEO and CIO challenges. To the surprise of many, the most common challenge stated was - access to data. Let's explain it further…

Most companies have a team dedicated to managing leads. In fact, millions of dollars are spent annually on fetching raw data from various providers. And to add to this is the turmoil of dealing with duplicated leads. Overall, leads are expensive and a disaster to maintain and it is going to get worse in the coming times.

Many experts have described the present CRM models as empty boxes. Companies buy a CRM without any data and then fill it with data and customizations. The idea is that through this process, data will stay consistent which will help the sales reps, the marketing team, and the customer-support team.

Ideally what should the future CRM do?

Famous CRM experts such as Tomasz Tunguz and Darian Shirazi have talked about the future modifications needed in the CRM software. According to them, the future CRM solution should merge lead data with contact management. As a result - specific data will be shared across all the teams without much effort. Let's look at a few possible changes suggested:

1. Recommend leads: Future CRMs should eliminate the need to fetch leads. Rather they should recommend leads to the team professionals depending on the existing customer database. Let's say a retail clothing company owner should get some suggested names as potential customers every morning. These suggestions should be made based on marketing campaign result and present customer base.

2. Present right data to the right rep at the right time: Sales teams have expanded to form several sub teams. For instance, most organizations have a team to qualify leads and an additional one to close the leads. Since both the jobs (although related to sales) is different, it is important for the CRM to provide customized data view to each rep. For instance, the ones working to qualify the leads should only see recommendations of leads they need to qualify. However, Account Managers (who will close the leads) should get detailed info such as how active the lead is on social media, what are their purchase preferences etc.

3. Help contribute to the same data: Duplicated leads are the biggest problem among most companies. To tackle this, CRM software should canonicalize every single lead across the marketing and sales teams. Doing this will help the team professionals to contribute to the same lead records. Inevitably, less time will be wasted on duplicated data. Spamming to potential customers will also be prevented.

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