The major capabilities provided by core CRM systems are contact management, opportunity management, marketing collateral management, task management, forecasting and more frequently, we are seeing some type of lead management included as well. Many companies go into these types of initiatives expecting that once they get their core system installed, their CRM journey is done. But in the majority of the cases, this is just the beginning of the journey.There are four major areas of technology being implemented by firms over and above the capabilities provided via their core CRM application. These included:
o Sales Collaboration:
Most common are tools such as SharePoint,WebEx, GoToMeeting, Live Meeting, Convoq, etc., that allow sales and marketing to more effectively communicate with customers via webinars, or that support collaboration between sales teams, or sales and other functional areas in the company via Web-based meetings or chat sessions.
o Lead Management:
Systems like Eloqua, Chordiant, SPSS, Unica, Vtrenz, Manticore, etc., that help sales and marketing teams implement direct and Web-based marketing campaigns, and then track and assess the results of those programs.
o Sales Knowledge Management:
Applications such as Pragmatech, Involve Technology, MobilePoint, Savo, Sant, etc., that help salespeople easily access the sales support tools they need (data sheets, presentations, sales best practices, etc.) to help them sell more effectively.
o Incentive Management:
Programs like Centive Systems, Exactly, Callidus, etc., that help sales managers implement the sales compensations programs they have designed to hopefully direct the behavior of their sales teams to sell the right things, the right way, while also allowing reps to easily track how much they are getting paid on each deal.
We now begin to see that CRM is not â one-stop shopping. Your core CRM system provides a solid technological foundation for helping to improve sales rep efficiency and effectiveness, but other add-ons are needed to create a complete suite of capabilities that reps need to address all the challenges they face.
Based on the research,findings are that while three out of 10 firms reported that they have no plans for additional enhancements or add-ons to their core CRM application, seven out of 10 do plan to expand their CRM platform during the coming year. And in addition to the capabilities previously mentioned, we find some new functionality generating CRM project team interest.Lets see some of these capabilities.
CRM and Sales Process Integration:
CRM and Sales Process Integration is one of the Key features in addition to the capability that is available within the Core CRM system we have no vendors provide point solution for the Sales Process Integration.
Sales Management Analytics:
Now that reps are leveraging CRM systems more often in their daily work flow, a significant amount of data is being entered into these systems. Companies are realizing that there is gold to be mined in those databases. This is sparking a growing interest in sales management analytic capabilities. This is a core CRM area in which vendors are making improvements, but we are also seeing robust applications emerging from companies like SPSS, SAS, ShadeTree Technologies, etc., to meet this market need.
A major problem being encountered by many CRM project teams is data management. How do you rationalize the data used to initially populate CRM systems, and then how do you continually refresh it to ensure currency and accuracy so that reps have confidence in the information they are using? This is a task being taken on by firms such as OneSource, Factiva, Hooverâs, etc., as they provide CRM data management services. In addition, we are seeing companies like TrueAdvantage, Before the Call, Generate, Spoke, etc., also stepping in to help populate CRM systems with useful information that can be gathered across the Web on customers, competitors, changes in the marketplace, etc. One now sees why we often tell clients going down the CRM path that they may well find the experience similar to eating Lay's potato chips. Once you eat one, you find you want another, and another and another.
We are seeing the vendor community respond to this hunger for more functionality. One needs to only look at the list of developer alliance partners that companies like Salesforce.com, Oracle and SAP are creating to understand that literally hundreds of new options for enhancing CRM platforms are or will soon be available.
But that wealth of options raises a concern. As the chief marketing officer of a technology firm recently shared with us: If I bought every CRM application that promised me an ROI, we would be out of business in six months! This CMO's caution is worth noting. Not every type of application coming to market will be useful to every sales and marketing team. And even if they were, the amount of new that we can drop on our teams at any one time is limited, so we must be judicious in the choices we make in terms of adding new capabilities into our CRM platforms.
That being said, we need to realize that for the promise of CRM to fully be realized, companies are going to have to continue to make new investments in CRM technology for the foreseeable future. To be competitive, we are going to have to provide our front-office teams with the all the tools they need to be more efficient and more effective. Fortunately the CRM vendor community understands these needs and is responding.