By Vibhav Vankayala, Product Marketing Manager, Zoho
Sales is the vital function of any business, and by extension, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software becomes the most important piece of technology for the success of a company. Yet, low adoption among salespeople still remains the biggest challenge for businesses. The solution to this lingering problem is to choose a CRM that’s easy to use and simplify the learning process for the salespeople.
While it’s true that most salespeople don’t actively use CRM on a daily basis currently, this trend is likely to change thanks to the increased demand for accountable solutions and the rapid consumerization of CRM. Millennials entering the workforce will expect business applications to offer an experience on par with mainstream consumer apps.
Some trends and innovations that will emerge in 2020 are:
- Personalization, without violating privacy: In order to offer personalized customer experience, businesses need to know their customers better. Often, this involves collecting and using customer information across various channels and touch-points, a lot of which might be sensitive in nature. There’s no doubt that personalization will be crucial for success in 2020, but pulling it off without intruding into customers’ privacy will be an important challenge.
- Vertical-specific solutions: A considerable amount of CRM growth is likely to come from vertical-specific offerings catering to prominent industries like healthcare, manufacturing, insurance, field-services, and others. Each category has specific needs and challenges, which are better addressed by dedicated solutions rather than generic CRM software.
- Stronger integration with vertical-specific technologies: As CRM systems become more vertical-specific, their ability to blend with that area’s core technology will be crucial. For example, as more and more retail companies offer personalized in-store experience to their customers using AR/VR (augmented reality/virtual reality), there’s a need to integrate these systems with CRM so that data can be relayed across further stages of the customer life-cycle. Another example is IoT for field services or manufacturing.
- Platform capabilities: Mid-size/large enterprises will increasingly evaluate CRM from a platform standpoint, so they can build customized solutions centered around CRM. The purchasing decisions for mid-size/large enterprises are going to be heavily influenced by the flexibility and extendability of a vendor’s tech stack and architecture. Vendors who offer a wider range of apps built on a similar platform are likely to see more success. This is because they don’t just offer something for everyone in a company– they’re flexible enough to let businesses build custom solutions in conjunction with CRM.
- Deeper voice and image processing: One of AI/ML’s prominent objectives is to cut down manual, repetitive work like customer data entry. This will be possible with deeper voice processing, where sales reps can guide a virtual assistant to collect customer information and perform actions like looking up collateral using image recognition.
- Mobile-first CRM: Mobile CRM is moving from being an add-on to becoming a piece of core functionality. CRM systems need to enable sales teams to track and update their complete sales cycle from their phones. In the coming years, we can expect numerous core CRM features, including customization, to be mobile-first, as opposed to today’s way of features getting adapted for mobile usage after they’ve been built for desktop. There is also a trend of multiple mobile apps specializing in specific areas instead of one single sales app. For example, it is easier to use separate apps for dashboards, deal pipeline and leads instead of a single app.