by Steve Chipman
Increasingly, CRM solutions are becoming platforms for running native applications that support the needs of a wide range of departments. Accounting, marketing automation, professional services automation, HR and other areas can now all be run within certain CRM platforms, utilizing a common back-end database. While CRM still imposes some functional limitations compared to best of breed applications, these limitations will become less pronounced over time.
Another big trend in CRM is the use of big data sources to automatically enrich records with demographic, firmographic and psychographic data. Some vendors are boldly declaring “the end of data entry” -- but we’re not quite there yet.
A decision on a CRM system should no longer be made in isolation by one department. While a sales leader understandably does not want to hold up the process of making a CRM purchase for his or her sales team, there may well be greater long term benefit by collaboratively making a CRM decision with marketing, customer service and/or finance, just to name a few departments. In many cases, companies can avoid creating silos of information that need to be later integrated when those silos didn’t necessarily have to be created in the first place.
Any company that has an effective demand generation strategy but that does not have an efficient way to get leads to the right salespeople at the right time should immediately consider incorporating CRM into its marketing efforts.
For companies that have traditionally relied on repeat business and on referrals for new business, but that have now recognized the need to employ online marketing, a CRM solution should be evaluated in conjunction with marketing automation tools.