No matter how great a small business is doing, there always seems to be room for improvement. Especially when dealing with sales, marketing, and support and using technology to synchronize the three.
Customer relationship management (or CRM) software is one way that businesses can get a handle on customers, potential customers and leads, and clean up the often-messy marketing funnel. But research shows that many businesses have been slow to adopt this type of software.
The Latest Research on CRM Adoption
Recently, Software Advice, the online reviews and evaluations depot completed their 2014 Buyerview for CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software. They interviewed hundreds of small businesses (defined as sales under $100 Million) in the US, the UK, and Australia to find out just what buyers were looking for in a CRM software.
More than half of CRM buyers are currently using manual methods like paper and spreadsheets to manage their customer relations. Approximately half of US respondents (47%) are still using manual methods to manage customers and only a quarter use CRM software. In the UK and Australia, the number of respondents that use manual methods is even higher, at 56% and 55%, respectively.
Some of the primary reasons buyers were looking into CRM software include:
- Researching benefits
- Centralizing Information
- Automating Tasks
- Improving Data Quality
Overwhelmingly, for CRM software, respondents from each country listed sales force automation as their number one requested feature. Small businesses want to be able to systematize their customers and the interactions that they have with them. The next most important feature was marketing automation, which helps small businesses that struggle with maintaining long-term contact with prospects.
Software Advice divvied up requested functionalities by application type. So for example, in sales automation, respondents requested:
- Interaction Tracking
- Alerts and Reminders
- Pipeline Management
- Sales Reporting
- Quote Generation
For marketing automation, respondents said they needed an email marketing program that would feature a drag and drop design. They noted that it would be helpful that, in the case of an integrated CRM program which had both marketing automation and sales force automation, there would be an opportunity to use the marketing data to drive sales. The numbers of those looking to purchase an integrated suite have gone up significantly since 2013, from 7% to 42%.
Less Popular CRM Integration Features
It is interesting to note that although social media is figuring heavily into small business marketing strategies, there were few requests for that integration in CRM software. The US (19%) was slightly ahead of the UK and Australia at 6% and 5%, respectively. The most requested integration was email, followed by calendar, and company website.
Less than 20% of respondents requested a customer support function, which may be due to the focus on CRM specifically vs customer experience as a whole, but it’s still troubling. Having great marketing and sales is one thing, but the apparent lack of interest in automating and organizing customer service could lead to support issues. At the very least buyers should be looking at CRM systems that integrate with support systems in order to provide visibility across the organization, and as a result better customer service.
Lastly, the majority of respondents indicated that they wanted software hosted in the cloud. Literally, only one person in the 385 person survey said that they preferred on-premise software to cloud-based. The reason for this is simple: cloud-based software is generally less expensive.
Do you use a cloud-based CRM for your business? Why or why not? What features are you looking for in a CRM?