Relationships are hard, and we’re not talking about the professional relationship between a customer and sales or support (though that’s part of it). We’re talking about the stuff that’s really hard to quantify. Customers have a relationship with the brand and the company. What does that look like? Customers have a relationship with the product. Are they happy? That’s where customer relationship management software comes in — or, rather, where it will come in.
Today, the world’s brightest software and technology minds are working out the business world’s relationship problems. But even they have only gotten so far. (Because, once again, relationships are hard.) Even so, the most modern CRMs, with robust and diverse tools, are poised to evolve with the help of artificial intelligence.
So the time to familiarize and train your teams with CRMs is now because it won’t be long until the winners and losers are measured by who evolved alongside CRM, and who’s trying to play catch up after the evolution happens?
The impending quantum leap in CRM will come from artificial intelligence. Until recently, CRM was only as smart as the data it already had. But what’s next is when these systems can not only seek out and acquire information on their own but get it into the hands of the people who need it.
Just look at the Salesforce Spring 2018 release. Sure, they’ve improved their LinkedIn integration for lead generation. But, it’d be pretty cool for your CRM to “listen” to social media, learn about a data breach at a competitor, assess customers who are most likely to be interested in that news, and alert your marketing teams to send an email about your own data security measures. CRM systems similar to that already exist; does your team know about them?
Predictive data retrieval combined with computer-aided language and data analysis means troves of previously untouched data is going to be collected, processed, and disseminated – and no human hands will need to touch it.
The future is mobile
Part of the strength of a “smart” CRM will lie in its dispersed nature. Right now, “Mobile-friendly” CRM usually only means the big, digital Rolodex is available to a salesperson on their mobile device. What “authentically mobile” CRM promises is legitimately distributed intelligence — available on any device.
Your mobile device already knows where you are, which means the CRM can know the location of your sales teams. Integrations like the newly released Sync feature of Salesforce Lightning can help schedule activities, but let’s take that up a notch. The future of mobile CRMs promises recommended interactions based on location and historical trends, provides available stock information, and a fully interactive catalog presentation. Couple those functions with the ability to take orders through barcode scanning and signature capture, you’ve moved beyond just applying a solution to a problem, your entire company has evolved.
Mobility and interoperability will be key developments in CRM. The global marketplace is shifting, and changing economic realities means chaining sales teams to computers in an office is not viable. CRM will go mobile – fully, authentically mobile — knowing how to harness that distributed intelligence will make or break many sales-driven companies.
Automate to dominate
You might have heard of all this being called something else: Cross-channel engagement. Whether derived from telephony, email, or social, some CRM systems can already identify data in near-real-time, collect it, and push it to those who need it. But “cross-channel” can also be applied internally to your company.
Because the CRM evolution will help not only sales reps, but the entire company by adding value, perspectives, ideas, and frameworks that can help businesses see relationships more clearly, make better decisions, and run operations better.
CRM will soon mean a holistic, cradle-to-grave integration throughout the company’s entire process. Every discrete piece of information about a product’s acquisition, stocking, sale, and distribution is tracked. Then that information gets processed, compared to existing metrics, and integrated with each customer’s profile. The enhanced customer profile enables greater sales, which boosts productivity, which gives the CRM more to do. See the trend here?
The bottom line
Customer relationship management has been taking baby steps and making cosmetic changes for years. But a big change is on the horizon for CRM — artificial intelligence that can lead to true data intelligence.
One of the most versatile CRMs on the market is Salesforce — as long as you know how to use it. CBT Nuggets offers Salesforce training to teach you and your business how to understand and use a cutting-edge CRM. Not only your sales team, but your entire business, can be ready for the paradigm shift we’ll be seeing in the very near future.
The future is here, and the way forward is re-imagining what a company can look like with the right technology. We don’t need better and better Rolodexes, we need to evolve. CRMs are exciting because they lead that change.