Top Trends In CRM Software Purchases For 2014

In today’s competitive environment, nearly all small and large organizations have considered deploying a cloud CRM software as serious business investment. CRM softwares help increase organizational productivity and improve the efficiency of team members. Customers’ today are well equipped with the enormous benefits a CRM software provides.
Let us now explore the customers’ unparalleled insight into what their motivations are for investing in new technology.
According to a survey conducted by Software Advice’s interactions with 5,279 CRM software buyers, sixty-eight percent of the buyers were either using non-industry-specific software (e.g. Microsoft Office) or manual methods, such as spreadsheets and paper notes, to manage their customer relationships. Of those who were using an existing CRM system, a vast majority (26 percent) were using a commercial CRM solution as opposed to a proprietary solution. 
The survey also helped discover the following trends:
  • 96 percent customers’ wanted a cloud-based CRM software.
  • A vast majority of prospective buyers wanted to evaluate best-of-breed solutions (e.g. marketing automation, sales force automation) over an integrated suite.
  • Sales force automation was the top-requested CRM application among both best-of-breed buyers and those wanting an integrated suite.
  • Only 9 percent of organizations said they wanted an integrated suite, or even multiple applications.
Needless to say that, with so much competition in the market, customers would obviously opt for a software that automates all their business processes.
Based on the survey, let us now categorize and understand the top features that a customer would look for before investing in a CRM software.
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Contact management tops the list, because it would be difficult for an organization to sustain in the long run, if their contacts are managed inefficiently. Keeping a record of all the customers and having a 360 degree view helps increase cross sell and up sell opportunities. Also, having to re-enter customer information for every transaction or deal angers the customer and leads to wastage of time. Proper lead management practices can result in significant gains in conversion rates. HDFC Bank, a dominant bank in the South Asia, made an unprecendented increase of 208 percent in lead conversion rates. They achieved this with the help of CRMnext implementation. They have also been able to maintain a 30 percent year-on-year growth, a rare achievement in the cut throat world of banking. 
Note-taking capabilities were also marked as important because keeping a track of all customer information and referring it during configuration is important. Integrating with third party systems was also on the list as it helps eliminate the risk of hopping between multiple systems and information is available in a centralized repository.
The reporting and analytic feature, keeps mangers well informed about all the activities performed by his team members. It also has many other added advantages to the customers as well as the organization. Whereas, dashboards help get a single view of all the activities conducted and a user-friendly interface helps improve user adoption.
Buyers Want System to Increase Efficiency and Organization
Regardless of whether the organization was evaluating cloud CRM software for the first time or replacing an existing program, a vast majority of those we spoke to were evaluating software because they wanted to increase efficiency. 
“We need an automated and centralized system to allow our marketing team to be more productive,” one person (on the condition of anonymity) told us, for example. Or, “We want to manage the sales process better and improve our ability to nurture leads,” another said.
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Integrated Suite Buyers Skew Much Larger than Best-of-Breed 
Both in terms of annual revenue and number of employees, buyers of integrated suites tended to be much larger than buyers of best-of-breed solutions. Half of best-of-breed buyers we spoke to were earning less than $1 million per year, while more than 60 percent had 20 or fewer employees. Integrated suite buyers, on the other hand, averaged closer to $5 million in revenue and 21 or more employees. 
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Sales Force Automation Tops List of Desired Applications
Among both integrated suite and best-of-breed buyers, sales force automation was the No. 1 most-requested CRM application. This application category represented 76 percent of all companies evaluating best-of-breed solutions and nearly 75 percent of those looking into integrated suites. 
Conversely, field service software was the second most popular application among best-of-breed buyers (representing about 8 percent of the sample), while it was low on the list of priorities for those wanting an integrated suite. Marketing automation was popular among both types of buyers.
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Paul Greenberg, Owner of The 56 Group, LLC

“In their early days, CRM systems were really good at creating operational efficiencies. They still do this today, but now it's also about how effective they can make each interaction in terms of actually growing revenue (not just cutting costs).”