CRM training

3 Emerging CRM Trends to Boost Your Sales

Is your CRM system ready for the next step on road to sales heaven? We have polished the crystal ball, shaken the tea leaves and read the stars in an attempt to give you our take on which CRM-related trends you need to keep an eye on if you are to avoid lagging behind in the fight for customers.

The expectation for an individual customer experience is growing amongst both B2C and B2B customers. As a provider, not only do you have to accommodate their present needs; you also have to predict what their needs will be in three months' time, or even six months' or a year's time.

That means that all companies, whether large or small, need to change their focus. Traditional Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is no longer sufficient. You need to progress to Customer Experience Management (CEM), working strategically and utilising a customer-experience database in every aspect of your business, if you are to prevent your competitors from filching your customers.  

Your CRM system is still the core of your customer experience efforts, but in 2019 you need to fine tune it with three major CRM trends:

  • Automation
  • Integration platforms
  • Predictive Analytics.

 

#1: Automation: Create more value for customers without running faster

We predict that 2019 will witness even greater focus on the automation of work processes. Marketing automation has been up and running in the marketing department for a long time. But automated processes and workflow will also end up playing a greater role in the sales department, bookkeeping and customer services.

Automation means staff have more time to provide their customers with a better customer experience, and you avoid losing customers and leads as a result of deficient follow-up.

Imagine, say, that a customer orders something on your website. This kicks off an automated flow, in which the customer gets set up in your CRM system along with an order. The salesperson in charge is given a follow-up activity in his or her calendar to check whether the customer is satisfied with his or her purchase. On that day, the seller receives a text message reminding him or her to call the customer. It all happens automatically. 

Why you need to join the trend

Workflow automation facilitates administrative work. You achieve more without having to run faster and get more available time to provide value both for your customers and, in the long run, for your business. An automated process will ensure that everyone follows the same procedure and that no agreements get forgotten. 


How to get started with automation

Map out your work processes, but do not start on everything at once. Start with something simple: for example, a section of the sales process. 

What steps does a salesperson need to take when sending out a quote? When should there be a follow-up, and who should deal with it? How much of that procedure can you automate with the built-in capabilities of your CRM system, and to what extent should you use other applications and integrations? 

Psst … If your CRM system doesn't have built-in automation tools, don't not despair. Join the integration-platforms trend and gain access to the best automation tools on the market:

 

#2: Integration platforms: Do not let your software restrict you

Just as customers expect a more individual purchasing experience, we believe that there will be an increasing expectation for more customised integrations among CRM users. They will no longer be bound by the integration packages of CRM providers. Instead they will make their own choices about the programmes and apps with which they want to integrate 

Integration platforms such as Zapier, Sync, Process Street and Anypoint, (to name but a few) will represent the way forward. They allow users to set up their own simple integrations between, say, their CRM system and their email programme, ERP system, website, automation apps, appointment-scheduling apps etc. 


Why you need to join the trend

When using an integration platform, you can select which software you want to integrate with your CRM system. You can integrate with all categories of best-of-breed software, thereby avoiding too many expensive API solutions.

How to get started with integration platforms

If you do not already have access to the programme with which you want to integrate your CRM system, purchase a licence that matches your needs. Also purchase a licence for the integration platform you want to use. Then you will be ready to set up your integrations. Most integration platforms have their own guides to setting up integrations.  

Psst … One of the things you can use the integrations for is automating your work processes. This will give your staff the fewest number of administrative tasks. Instead, they can spend their time looking after customers, attracting leads and closing orders.

 

#3: Predictive Analytics: Predict customer needs and increase sales

Predictive Analytics software uses machine learning and statistical algorithms to analyse data and provide accurate predictions about the behaviour and needs of your customers.

You have probably heard about Big Data, and there is so much knowledge contained in large datasets. But the same is also true of smaller datasets. In your CRM system you will already have gathered and categorised a large amount of relevant customer data on which you can draw. Regardless of the volume of your data, it will create no serious value for your business until you analyse that data and deploy the insights strategically.  

Predictive Analytics can help you, for example, to predict when a potential customer will be ready to buy, when an existing customer will need a new product or service, or when a customer will leave you – before the customer contacts you.

What is Predictive Analytics?

Now take a deep breath. Things are about to get a bit technical. Predictive Analytics is a modern form of statistical data analysis, in which you use software based on statistical algorithms and machine learning. 

Unlike traditional models of statistical analysis, Predictive Analytics software not only looks at a limited range of historical data, but can also look holistically at the entire dataset, simulate different scenarios and customise algorithms as the programme learns from its experience - with no human intervention.

Predictive Analytics software, such as SAS, rapidminer, Alteryx, Wise.io etc., can analyse large amounts of data in a short time and predict the most optimal solution to what you are asking the programme about.

 

This is why you need to join the trend

According to an analysis conducted by the consulting firm, Walker as we head towards 2020, an increasing number of customers will be willing to pay more for a good customer experience. That is why you need to use your customer data as a basis for designing a good customer experience, so you can attract customers and retain them. 

This is where Predictive Analytics plays a major role. Predictive Analytics is a developing technology. So far it is mainly very large companies that have embraced it, because it has been complex and resource-intensive. But the programmes are becoming increasingly user-friendly – even for those of us who do not hold a PhD in Data Analysis. In fact, there is every indication that it will be indispensable in the future. 

If you join the trend in 2019 and start analysing and utilising your data to anticipate customer needs right now, you will get a head start over your competitors. 

How to get started with Predictive Analytics:

It may be a good idea to hire a data specialist to conduct the actual analysis work. But you and your staff know your business best and for what purpose you require answers. 

Make a modest start by asking your data a few questions within a limited field: for example, where in the sales process your leads are dropping and how you can prevent this. That means the task will not be too formidable, and you can test what Predictive Analytics can do for your business.

Psst … Your analyses will only be as good as your data, no matter how intelligent an analysis tool you use. If your customer data is obsolete or contaminated, you run the risk of making the wrong decisions and harming your business.