In the technology world, we tend to focus on the latest trends and ways that software and services can automate processes that once required intensive amounts of manual labor. And in larger businesses, decision makers are cognizant of these trends and have the power and budgets to make the switch to better software and services.
But that’s not always the case in the SMB world, where oftentimes companies maintain the status quo when it comes to operating procedures in order to survive. In fact Software Advice, a company specializing in reviews and evaluations, recently discovered more than half of SMB customer relationship management (CRM) prospective buyers are currently using manual processes like paper and spreadsheets to manage customer relations. Considering some of the technologies available these days, and at relatively low costs, that’s a pretty significant number of SMBs that aren’t taking advantage of available technologies.
Software Advice interviewed hundreds of small businesses in the U.S., U.K. and Australia and pinpointed some very specific features these organizations are looking for when it comes to choosing CRM software and services. For those considering making the leap from a manual to a technology solution to handle CRM, the main features they require include the ability to research benefits, task automation, centralizing information and improving data quality.
Salesforce automation is the top feature SMBs from all three countries are seeking when it comes to purchasing CRM solutions. This includes interaction tracking, sales reporting and quote generation, pipeline management and generation of alerts and reminders. Marketing automation is also important to SMBs and should include simple-to-use email marketing functionality.
A majority of SMBs queried said they were looking for a cloud-based CRM solution, not surprisingly. Price was the overwhelming factor for this choice, along with increased features and functionality. That sentiment is certainly in line with global trends, with Gartner (News - Alert) estimating SaaS and cloud-based CRM deployments will reach 50 percent of total deployments this year. That’s a pretty significant chunk of the roughly $23.9 billion CRM market.
What SMBs are not looking for in their CRM solutions is also interesting and neither social media nor customer support ranked high on the features list for SMB buyers. This may point to a lack of education and awareness on the part of SMB buyers, revealing opportunities for CRM vendors, resellers and service providers to better educate customers on the importance of the customer experience and omni-channel initiatives for reaching customers and prospects.
Edited by Maurice Nagle