CRM 2016 predictions: mid-year report – are you on track?

It’s now a proven fact: CRM is an absolute must, a duty, a necessity for businesses, regardless of their size. But CRM doesn’t stay still, it’s constantly evolving. With that fact in mind, several specialists looked at the predicted CRM trends for 2016, and keywords such as mobility, integration and social came out as the big winners.

We’re now midway through 2016. If you had to make a report, would you say that those trends are being applied in your organization, or that they’d be part of an eventual strategy to be implemented in the future?

To answer that, let’s step back and take a look at the CRM trends predicted for this year, and then I want to give you a few tips to guide you as you make your strategic choices.

  1. Mobility:

Customer data are now accessible on mobile platforms to help you improve your relationship with your customers and track your teams more efficiently. Gone are the days when a vendor had to store his sales figures on a laptop. Today, it’s all available in real time: demos, dashboards, figures. A 2016 Gartner report showed that 55% of sales reps will be using only smartphones or tablets to access their sales applications.

Tip: If you haven’t already done so, it’s a no-brainer: buy and install suitable platforms. You’ll improve your vendors’ service to customers. 

  1. Integration:

Interfacing various applications with a more comprehensive system is, without question, a critical factor in a successful CRM implementation. CRM solutions are not just sales tools but are becoming systems that actually integrate with sales and marketing platforms. Microsoft Dynamics and Salesforce have positioned themselves in that regard through the various types of platform integrations made possible by their CRM solutions.

Tip: Ideally, the smartest approach would be to do that when implementing the CRM solution, but nothing stops you from doing it after the fact. Be sure that such an integration is useful, and carefully study your need for it.

  1. Social:

More and more interactions between customers are happening on social networks. They’re an excellent channel for exchanging information to optimize the customer relationship. Social functions are directly integrated into the CRM solution, so the customer can be tracked and potential future customers can be managed.

Tip: A company obviously needs to establish its presence in the world of social networking, because customers are already there making their comments, registering their complaints, etc.

And don’t worry about security, some CRM platforms bundle a social control system with their application.

But, be careful about just jumping into the deep end.

  1. Verticality:

More and more industry-specific CRM solutions are hitting the market. Verticality is on the rise. It offers a turnkey solution, tailored to specific needs, which is not necessarily found in horizontal CRM solutions.

Gestisoft has managed to build a reputation around its vertical offering for professional orders and associations: Pivotal OAP. In the past few years, the company has developed this CRM solution for the Ordre des infirmiers et infirmières du Québec, Chambre des notaires du Québec, etc.

Tip: To be able to choose between a vertical CRM solution and a horizontal one, decide what your main goal is in implementing a CRM solution. If it’s to manage your sales cycle, qualify opportunities or manage contacts, the smarter choice would be a horizontal CRM solution.

On the other hand, if your goal is to automate processes specific to your industry, such as to manage stock, inventory or even regulations, verticality will be the way to go.

  1. Analytics:

An analytical CRM solution examines the customer relationship using specific tools and methodologies to establish customer behavior models, sales targets, potential additional sales, etc. Companies are increasingly turning towards data intelligence in response to this new feature.

Clearly, today’s analytical CRM helps make a giant step forward in predicting and anticipating customers’ buying habits.

Tip: Improving the customer experience and maximizing sales are clearly core drivers for every company, and an analytical CRM solution is one way of making that happen.

Be careful not to just conduct data studies that don’t produce any strategies in the end because the information is hardly, if ever, put to good use.

Consider surrounding yourself with data mining and scoring specialists. More and more training courses are becoming available on this subject.

The die is cast. It’s up to you to make sure you’re on track with the latest CRM innovations in 2016. But, as I mentioned in the introduction, the world of technology is constantly changing, so it’s anyone’s guess what the predictions for 2017 will be.