5 Predictions for CRM in 2017

3 min read

Sales Digitization

With 2016 drawing to a close it’s time to look ahead to the future. What can we expect to see from CRM in 2017? What will be the key customer relationship management trends?

If 2016 is anything to go by we could be in for an exciting a year. CRM has come on leaps and bounds in terms of customer insight and real-time data usage, allowing users to actively tailor solutions based around a client’s needs.

AI and CRM looks like a partnership that will continue to flourish as does the development of mobile CRM, but before we weigh in, let’s take a look at the hard data.

In 2017 CRM will continue to grow as one of the most demanded software solutions

 A study conducted by SoftwareAdvice’s Andrew Friedenthal concluded that two of the biggest pain points facing SMBs in 2016 was the need for greater organization and efficiency (39%), followed by a need to improve tracking (25%). Combine this with requested automated follow-up features almost quadrupling from 23% in 2015 to 84% in 2016, and we start to get a glimpse into what’s waiting ahead.

The CRM market share grew 12.3% over the past year, totaling around $26.3B. This is expected to remain the same through 2016 with a further increase into 2017.  2015 also saw year-on-year growth for SaaS revenue of 27% as companies continue to pursue cloud-based data solutions to meet growing customer demand. Again, this has huge implications for CRM predictions for 2017.

Top 5 CRM trends for 2017

#1 Mobile CRM

As you can see from our CRM predictions report in 2016, mobile CRM remains a prominent factor for many businesses – and rightfully so.

In order to accurately forecast sales for the upcoming quarter, track activity and adjust sales strategies, sales managers need data. However, if the information being relayed back to the CRM system on the ground is a day late and a dollar short, it’s of little use.

The issue behind data collection lays with the platform. Traditional CRMs are predominantly desktop based, meaning a field reps need to return to the office to relay the data back into the system. By that time a lot of it has been forgotten, misinterpreted or not entered at all.

Mobile CRM combats this by providing an easy-to-use, intuitive UX. Most of the data can be picked up and recorded with minimal fuss such as visit check-ins, deal updates and new business orders.

#2 CRM Integration

With digital transformation well underway in 2016 one of the main issues facing businesses is CRM integration – whether or not their current system can integrate with other business software tools such as ERP, Office or CSM.

Layering these tools into the CRM allows relevant data to be housed under a single roof, not scattered across various different apps or dare we say it, spreadsheets…making it easier for field reps to manage their daily workflow.

Not so much a revolutionary new change for the industry as it is a necessity, but with increasing access to APIs from the industry’s big hitters this is definitely a space to keep an eye on come 2017.

#3 AI Intelligence

Advances in technology have enabled software vendors to tap into an unprecedented wealth of customer data. This, coupled with the aforementioned levels of software integration could usher in a whole new era for mobile CRM.

Most CRM software already delivers on basic customer insight, maybe a few details of purchase history and related accounts.

But imagine as a sales manager, the ability to determine which customers are likely to be the most profitable and why. AI could be deployed across the back end systems to synchronize customer data with the application tools used by field sales reps on a daily basis, delivering actionable insight, in the critical moment, that’s responsive to real-time updates.

#4 Social CRM

Before a lead has even entered your pipeline it’s likely they’ve Googled your brand, visited your website, checked out your social media pages, participated in an industry discussion board before even being approached by your sales team.

All these processes will have carved a perception of your brand before any real dialogue is underway. This means to be relevant, sales teams have to be active and in the right places i.e. online, where the conversation is taking place.

This is where social CRM comes into play. Integrating with these platforms allows sales reps to be there, when the customer needs them. In the age of digital transformation, it will be interesting to see how social CRM pans out for 2017.

#5 Real-time cloud access

The ribbon that ties it all together – real-time data. As we’ve just seen obtaining it is vital for field sales reps, sales managers, department managers…everyone.

But it’s the advances made in cloud technology and computing that have made it an accessible, even financially feasible option for everybody. In fact, in 2008 only 12% of CRM buyers preferred cloud-based solutions compared to an astonishing 87% in 2014 with access and increased confidence in the technology cited as primary causes.

This real-time data flow is the pillar around which ForceManager’s CRM is built, and allows our customers to automatically record their vendors’ commercial visits, access information “live” en-route, obtain activity analysis and manage their sales forces on the ground.

These are the 5 CRM trends for 2017 that we wanted to highlight at ForceManager. Only time will tell if we were right, but we are not expecting any serious surprises …

What are your thoughts? What do you see as the key trends to watch out for in 2017?