Software review and matchmaker site, Software Advice, just completed a survey of over 300 CRM users. The resulting data is a valuable guideline for CRM developers, but more importantly we thought a recap of the survey and results merited a blog post because they mirror many of the discussions we have with prospects and customers of Pipeliner CRM. [Look for our soon-to-be-published Pipeliner CRM Everything Guide to Successfully Choosing a CRM Solution]
These results are interesting to our team because they help up put on the Analyst hat and take a dispassionate view of what our users need. Surveys like this help us confirm our conclusions and guide our roadmap. We want to point out this impartial third-party advice to you because it helps you make wise decisions about your CRM and your sales processes.
What’s surprising or important for you to know? Let’s dig in…
The Software Advice survey crosses many industries, with the largest percentage of respondents (70%) representing small businesses with 100 or fewer employees. Medium businesses had the second highest representation at 18%. Manufacturing and Technology were the largest industry verticals surveyed, representing over ⅓ of the total.
This was especially interesting to us because our current focus is on helping small and medium businesses to streamline and simplify their sales and customer management operations. Further, this distribution very closely matches the Pipeliner CRM customer base.
Key Benefits of CRM
Seventy-four percent of those surveyed stated that improved data access was the biggest benefit provided by their current CRM system. Leading blogger, management consultant, and thought leader Brian Vellmure commented, “There are still millions of companies today [that] just need a centralized place to keep their data. It’s the lowest common denominator and the easiest value to realize.”
The Satisfaction Chart
Key Challenges of CRM
Look at the red in the survey responses, especially around sales forecasting and customer acquisition costs. This is surprising data… Less than ½ of all businesses surveyed were satisfied with their CRM’s sales forecasting (and had nearly the same dissatisfaction with customer acquisition).
What does this result mean for you in the bigger picture?
As this applies to sales teams, this statistic is shocking — Forecasting is arguably the main reason you are using a CRM in the first place. These are issues inherent to every sales team — and your CRM tool should help guide your activities.
Fifty-six percent of respondents picked customization as their top CRM challenge, with integration to key technologies (49%) taking a close second. Many also said that end-user adoption was a major (24 percent) or moderate challenge (34 percent).
This finding squares with the a vendor perspective that every product will not always play nicely together. The double-edged sword that accompanies the best of buying best-of-breed apps (cost savings, deep functionality, focused feature development, frequent updates, ease of use) is offset slightly by the fact that integration with other systems is sometimes suboptimal or even non-existent.
The same goes for system customization — where there almost always exists a tradeoff between customization and user experience, aka ease of use. To completely customize any CRM solution will require custom code– no way around this reality– which will jack up costs, time to market, and flexibility of the system going forward. I’d be very intrigued to learn more about the requirements of the 20% of respondents who felt System Customization was not a a challenge… Perhaps these answers are correlated too with size of business (and resources available).
Sales Forecasting and Acquisition Cost
When your team improves at sales forecasting, they focus on the right deals — putting their effort into tasks with the highest chance of success. In this way, forecasting directly correlates to customer acquisition cost. I would wager that many of the same respondents who are disappointed in their CRM’s forecasting capabilities are also giving low marks to their CRM customer acquisition capabilities — as their sales team is likely struggling with focus.
DISCLOSURE: At Pipeliner CRM, this was a top developmental priority from the earliest days, and a consistent competitive edge for us vs. other CRMs. We support workflow focus, which supports sales forecasting accuracy, which supports lower cost of acquisition (and also lower risk in your pipeline). A core value of Pipeliner CRM is that the central location of customer data, organized within an intuitive platform, leads to improved relationship management—claimed as the second-highest key benefit in the survey.
Social Media Investment
Social media monitoring was high on the list of important future investments in CRM technology for businesses. This reflects the trend of social selling in the sales landscape. Companies are increasingly aware of changes in the buyer’s journey and the need to interact in more meaningful ways through social channels.
As a first stage, most CRMs should have Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ support for both prospecting and opportunity management through social channels. These are new “table stakes” items that should only become more entrenched as companies continue to make investments in social.
SMBs Most Satisfied — Medium Business Least Satisfied
This is a very interesting trend which came as no surprise to CRM Essentials co-founder Brent Leary. “Small businesses feel they’re getting more bang for their buck,” he said. “There are a lot more CRM choices for them today than there were a few years ago. [These products] are more affordable, easier to use — and the subscription pricing terms are in line with what small businesses are looking for.”
Conversely Leary pointed out that midsize businesses are in the midst of expansion. As they grow, they gain a deeper awareness of what they really require of CRM and of their current system’s limitations.
Your Opinion Welcome
We’d be curious to learn about your own satisfaction of your current CRM, especially by business size. Would you agree with the survey sentiment here?
From an industry-wide vendor perspective, I’m very pleased to see that Security, Support and Instability/Bugs/Latency are effectively not a challenge according to these respondents. This is a good news story, whereby anyone deploying CRM is going to get a solid app. This confidence boost is largely a rising tide lifting all boats in this sector.
Click here for the complete findings of Software Advice’s Customer Relationship Management Software UserView 2014.