CRM. It’s a problem.

I’ve been intrigued by the CRM market for years. Although there are some new systems that are worth checking out, the market is going through well needed change.

And with change comes an opportunity to redefine things. Let’s discuss!

My first observation

One observation I’ve made recently is that the contact manager market (can I call it an industry?) is rapidly changing. How we communicate with clients and prospects (or at least how we introduce ourselves or businesses) is evolving. Social media has changed marketing significantly.

Like most industries that go through change, the CRM industry is changing as technology changes. Small businesses are no longer hooked into an exchange server and Outlook 2003. Email and related systems are much more open and easier to integrate with.

What does this mean?

It means that managing and documenting your customer details and customer interactions will become (and is becoming) more integrated with our day-to-day workflows. Nimble and Contactually are good examples of services that integrate with a raft of online applications like LinkedIn and Google Apps, and as a result, help you be more proactive.

It’s fair to say, contact management in a few of years will be much different and easier for businesses.

My second observation

It seems to me that everyone has forgotten about sales pipeline management and forecasting. It’s all about “social CRM”. Salesforce are even trying to trade mark the term “social enterprise” (good luck with that…).

I get it, sales pipeline management and forecasting software is not sexy. There’s no buzz. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore it, right?

If you are to believe recent stats from the Aberdeen Group that businesses actively carrying out sales forecasting can increase revenue by up to 9% and profit by up to 5% then ignore sales pipeline management at your peril!

The problem with sales pipeline management and forecasting

Businesses still struggle with pipeline management software. They struggle to generate accurate forecasts. Sales people still have a lot of admin. Sales managers struggle to get them to do it. And those in charge of the forecasts are still spending hours fighting with Excel.

The software just doesn’t help sales people sell or sales managers manage.

There are also many people based issues involved in forecasting like the accuracy of the data. Shit in, shit out basically.

The only way to eliminate this is to make sales pipeline software much more integrated into technology. That means integrating with APIs, defining clear workflows and applying design thinking (have a read at Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think).

Here’s to making sales pipeline management sexy.

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