What does the CRM of the future look like?

In a world where people are talking about real-time data and analysis, how far does the traditional CRM go?
17 July 2018

CRM solutions need to be more intelligent. Source: Shutterstock

The reason companies invest in customer relationship management (CRM) tools is to help their sales teams better manage their prospective and existing customers.

However, in today’s digital, always connected world, do CRMs really help — and how much data do they really capture and crunch? Are they really equipped to be at the center of all the sales action?

“Customers, whether B2B or B2C, are digitally transforming, and the best companies are employing digital technologies to both differentiate themselves from their competitors and stay on par with where their customers are,” said Alan Webber, IDC Research Director for Customer Experience.

CRMs, which play a significant role in how a company understands its customers, therefore, has the opportunity to provide more support and insights to salespeople (and the business in general).

In an exclusive interview with TechHQ, Miller Heiman Group President and CEO Byron Matthews explains why traditional CRMs might not be up to scratch when it comes to the new, disruptive business environment, and what the CRM of the future looks like.

“According to a study we conducted recently, only 25.3 percent of participants fully agree that a CRM enhances the productivity of salespeople,” pointed out Matthews.

For sales technology to be embraced, it must be backed by a proven sales methodology that guides the actions of sellers on the ground and helps improve win rates.

High CRM adoption alone should not be the end goal for sales operations. Rather, adoption needs to be partnered with a high degree of sales process formalization in order to set the basis for achieving better and more predictable sales results.

Without the backing of a proven sales methodology, CRM is little more than a system of record. It lists past successes and failures but offers nothing in the way of advice when it comes to deals that are still in motion.

Because CRM data is backward-looking, sales teams have come to consider inputting CRM data as busy work, and often save it until the deal has already closed, rather than proactively entering the information in real-time.

Augmenting CRMs with predictive analytics allows sales teams to take that backward-looking CRM data and turn it into forward-looking insights.

“Remember, the only thing that actually drives sales results is seller behavior, and the only thing that can reliably change seller behavior is a proven methodology for sellers to follow,” explained Matthews.

Once you integrate a methodology into your CRM, it will become more than an organizational tool; your CRM will actually help you win more by replicating past patterns of success.

By combining predictive analytics with sales methodology – offering the carrot rather than the stick – sellers buy in to keep their CRM up to date because it finally plays a part in their success.

Together, they can actually show sellers the move that will move the deal forward in real time.

The outcome of that buy-in is improved reliability and usability of CRM data for the individual rep and the entire sales organization.

“In fact, we found that sales analytics tools can radically enhance many aspects of how sales organizations operate, with many experiencing double-digit increases in their win rates and average deal sizes, plus similar decreases in sell-cycle lengths,” claimed Matthews.

Augmenting your CRM with predictive analytics can help sales teams at every level.

For sales reps, adding predictive analytics based on a selling methodology to CRM helps them develop a winning strategy for each deal, apply the methodology in a more actionable way, prioritize deals appropriately, improve time management, and effectively plan their daily activities.

By providing in-the-moment insights that look forward (rather than backward), sales technology can actually change the behavior of sellers.

With advanced analytics showing sellers the action that will most increase their odds of winning a deal, sellers act on their sales training and win more.

For sales managers, adding predictive analytics to CRM facilitates faster and more actionable coaching advice at scale, guides the actions of sales reps to improve win rates, and drives methodology adoption and reinforces training.

Augmented CRMs provide managers visibility into ongoing deals and real-time insights so they can intervene in deals to win fast and lose faster.

For sales executives, adding predictive analytics to CRM uncovers win/loss patterns, improves the accuracy of sales data and revenue forecasting, and makes reporting faster and better.

Using deep analytics, augmented CRMs can show executives how to replicate winning strategies, as well as understand the ROI from sales activities all the way through the pipeline – information never before gleaned through CRM.

According to Insightly’s Founder and CEO Anthony Smith, “Overlay a business’ unique CRM process, combined with deep analytics, and you have tailored customer engagement playbooks that enable businesses to treat every customer like they are their only customer.”

In conclusion, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that the CRM of the future will use a tonne of AI and analytics to produce insights that transform the way salespeople engage and interact with customers. Businesses that are serious are already considering how these new-age systems and solutions might help them.