There is no perfect CRM system. Never has been, never will be.
No matter which CRM system you buy, you’ll need to customize. Likely use only a small fraction of its features. Focus on what’s most important for your organization and sales process, based on how your customers buy. Higher adoption and usage is more important than stretching the team to use more features.
Increasingly, CRM managers can customize their instances with an endless supply of apps that either modify or enhance what CRM can do, or create seamless tie-ins with other systems (marketing automation for example).
And although we’ve come a long, long way in a short amount of time, there are still a few high-level features & capabilities I’d like to see enabled for CRM to make them more accessible, valuable and productive for B2B sales organizations.
Here’s my short list:
1. Fewer features, not more
I sometimes compare a good CRM system to Microsoft Excel. You won’t use 90% of the features, nor will you probably need them. But wouldn’t it be easier if you could just turn those features off? Make it so that your users don’t even get distracted or intimidated by them? Some CRM systems such as PipelineDeals.com are focusing on building more usable CRM that specifically features less options, but I’d think even Salesforce.com could make it so that some hard-wired features, buttons, fields and more could simply be hidden or deleted at a greater scale.
2. Better integration with marketing systems
I continue to be impressed with how well the marketing automation and email systems (Marketo, Eloqua and Vertical Response in particular) have integrated with Salesforce.com and even other CRM systems. But those are far from the only core systems marketers use. Integration between Salesforce.com and GoToWebinar, for example, is still primitive. I realize much of this work still lies at the feet of the third-party solution providers (to create connections and apps for the Salesforce.com and general CRM community), but if they don’t put a greater focus on this, more marketers will likely start to migrate to providers that do.
3. Better marketing campaign and ROI reporting
Fundamental CRM architecture clearly puts a focus on sales vs. marketing, but even years later there’s very little innovation (with Salesforce.com in particular) to create better, more accurate and intuitive marketing reporting. This needs to go far beyond measuring inbound leads and conversions. Most marketers are touching leads with multiple campaigns, channels and efforts in unison or parallel. Where’s the causality? What’s really working? Thankfully, companies like Full Circle CRM are actively working on solutions that address this now.
4. More focus on helping organizations customize and successfully launch
Every organization is going to be different, granted. But there are similarities to how an inside sales team might set up their CRM system, similarities for how a manufacturing organization might do the same, and so on. Without creating massive services organizations, I’d love to see more templates and guidelines for how new CRM customers can set-up & launch their instances. Yes, consultants could create these. But I’d be surprised if they didn’t help the CRM software providers themselves help convert more prospects into customers, by making it clearer what the specific path to success looks like.
5.Intelligent to-do’s (based on customer & prospect activity)
For most CRM system implementations, task-setting is manual. But shouldn’t CRM be smarter than that? Shouldn’t it be able to observe prospect activity (within the company’s Web site or marketing systems, or even across the social web) and create tasks accordingly? This may be no small task to build, but would certainly make CRM more intelligent, and more action-oriented.
Not a complete list of needs, but a good starting point. What is (or would be) on your list? What do you wish your CRM system could do for you?