Small businesses and their sales teams have witnessed a rapidly changing history of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software. We can trace the origins of CRM back to the history of ERPs in the 60’s. Twenty years later, businesses witnessed the modern CRM pick up steam. Today, it is a solution that has come a long way, expected to grow to a $36.5 billion market worldwide this year, alone.
Let’s look at the history of CRM: a history divided into 3 parts.
Stage 1. The Origins
Dating back to the mid-80’s, the idea of personalized marketing messages came to fruition as direct mail evolved into database marketing. Campaigns became more targeted as a result of a more organized and accessible database of leads. New-found traces of efficiency placed a higher emphasis on analytics and metrics, enabling sales teams to target customers on a 1:1 level.
Stage 2. Expansion
With explosive growth with the advent of PC’s came the concept of Sales Enablement (SE). SE allowed businesses to automate their lead generation and nurturing processes, saving a significant amount of time, effort, and cost. Soon followed the need to integrate Sales and Marketing operations – and, this became the first hint of a standard best practice for leading businesses. Near the end of the decade, CRM vendors emerged and sales automation software took off. The advancements in technology resulted in efficiency and more robust collaboration between the sales team and its sales reps.
Stage 3. The Modern CRM
The explosion of more start-ups and businesses that were looking to expand called for a need and demand for a robust CRM solution. A CRM became the cornerstone of the evolution of Sales. As a stand-alone platform, it offered an entirely new way of conducting sales. It was the beginning of a way towards the necessity to integrate more business processes together. And so was born the integration of CRM with marketing automation (MA).
CRM and Marketing Automation Integration
The necessity of keeping customer data at a single place versus using multiple tools for multiple departments soon became a challenge for businesses. “How are we going to take care of all of our processes as our business grows? How are we going to create a seamless experience for our customers through their journey in making a purchase decision?”
Soon came the challenge of an inability to scale with business growth. Marketing departments were growing as a result of new MA capabilities. Processes like lead nurturing, lead scoring, multi-channel campaigns, and other key activities created smarter and savvier customers who were long into the buying cycle before ever reaching out to a sales rep.
The advancement of MA called for integration in order to seamlessly transition marketing-qualified leads into sales-ready buyers. MA enabled sales teams to use MA software for their own needs instead of only having access to CRM data. This made Marketing more effective, more efficient, and enabled them to close more deals by understanding the customer journey on a new level.
Enter the next frontier: Customer Service
A true 360-degree view of the customer becomes a critical capability for Marketing and Sales. But, how about customer service? Isn’t it true that continuing the interaction long after the sale has been made is necessary in order to create a positive customer experience? Closing the deal is half the battle – retaining customers is a science as much as it is an art. And that’s why integrating the customer service department is so critical for small businesses. And it is made possible with marketing automation and CRM integration.
A marketing automation platform and a CRM needs to provide both web analytics and customer history. All touchpoints that have taken place before a lead became a customer have to be visible to customer service in order to offer the best support to customers.
But is there a platform on the market that integrates these three departments together? Have software vendors realized that these are three critical teams that have to work in unison in order to create a seamless customer experience?
The differences between a stand-alone CRM, and CRM with Marketing automation and service inbuilt are evident. Agile CRM has taken these three departments and has combined them in an effort to have all data, lead intelligence and customer information in a single place. Whenever Sales wants to see the customer journey, they view the information in the Marketing Automation platform. When customer service is dealing with a customer, they can go into the CRM and marketing automation platform to gather customer history.
When compared to the marketplace, Agile CRM provides all these capabilities at a lower cost than other vendors; other vendors who are still in this integration infancy. With Agile, you have a single point where all the three departments meet – creating a seamless customer experience. In a world where customers have become smarter in the digital landscape, we have to ensure that we cater to their needs in order to win their business, and then retain it.
76% of consumers say they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. Are you ready to help your customers be happy with choosing you as their CRM vendor? Agile CRM can get you there – and get you there by doing more than just helping Sales. It’s time to take your teams to the next level. It’s time for seamless integration.