Throughout our research and our discussions with leading organizations, we identified at least three emerging sales technology trends requiring the attention of successful sales organizations:
Current and future business challenges will require organizations to adopt flexible and well-thought-out CRM systems.
CRM today will only serve to increase customer expectations, requiring organizations to be one step ahead in the race to serve customers and create valuable relationships.
Technology is evolving and software systems themselves will be more flexible and sophisticated, requiring organizations to stay on the cutting edge to remain competitive.
The popularity of CRM among organizations we interviewed reflects a fundamental shift to customer-focused strategies and an emphasis on the value of managing mutually beneficial relationships with customers. These companies are taking steps to increase their value to customers and their customers’ value to the organization. And as customer relationships become more complex, information becomes more complex.
The challenges to sales organizations discussed throughout this book, including growing global competition, new skill requirements, and new channels to market, will require wellplanned and flexible CRM systems if organizations want to strengthen their focus on the customer. For example, as alternative channels and additional customer touch points become more important factors in customer relationships, CRM must take each aspect into account. Additionally, CRM systems also must be fluid and flexible as e-commerce continues to expand and after-sales service becomes more integral to the customer experience.
As customers receive more value from their interactions and continue to have more positive experiences, they will inevitably expect more. For sales organizations to be successful, they will need to meet and exceed those expectations. This will require flawless implementation of CRM systems and the continuous reevaluation of business objectives, sales processes, and individual skills.
Finally, as technologies advance, organizations must be flexible enough to react. Increasingly, CRM systems will not only increase efficiency but effectiveness as well. As current software increases efficiency, for example, by allowing sales reps more time to make sales calls, organizations now also require sales reps to make better and smarter sales calls. Technology providers will focus on making the sales force more effective.
There will be more functionality being put into CRM tools to include knowledge management systems, sales coaching systems, and service intelligence systems. Finally, suppliers of sales force technology will increase their “vertical solutions” and phase out their one-size-fits-all CRM system. Software suppliers now realize that there are different types of customers, business models, and selling strategies, and over time there will be different CRM software to support these differences. Successful sales organizations must be ready to seek out and leverage these technological advances to compete in the global economy.