Each year, companies in the U.S. spend close to $20 billion on market research. Everything from surveys to product testing to campaign performance analysis; all this and more is used to compile as much data as possible on customers.

Because the customer is the lifeblood of any organization, it’s no surprise that customer relationship management software has become increasingly popular among service providers and other industries. CRM platforms not only help generate leads and maintain strong customer relationships, but they also help boost the productivity and efficiency of everyday tasks common to sales and marketing teams.

According to Nix United, CRM is the ”largest and most quickly-developing type of enterprise software.” Research by Gartner revealed that ”worldwide spending on CRM software increased by 15.6% in 2018 and amounts to $48.2 billion.”

It’s safe to say that CRM platform are mainstream. But it hasn’t always been this way. While the concepts and ideas behind CRM have been around for thousands of years, there was a time when the acronym ”CRM” didn’t exist.

History of the CRM Platform

In 1960, record-keeping was a headache. Companies had businesses to grow and automation was in its infancy.

Records were stored on accounting machines and computers located in banks, stock exchanges, and government buildings. It wasn’t until the ‘70’s that computer prices dropped, allowing small businesses to get in on the action.

Use all-in-one sales crm tool to organize the sales process centrally.

Additionally, teams within a company were divided along department lines, making it almost impossible for them to work together with any real efficiency. Customer lists belonged to the accounts department, and sales people were forced to keep their own notes on index cards. Remember the Rolodex?

CRM in the ‘80s

By the ‘80s, marketing and data pioneers Bob and Kate Kestnbaum had established database marketing to collect and analyze data on customers and use statistical models to help businesses send targeted, personalized communications. They helped revolutionize sales and marketing with concepts like customer lifetime value and channel management, among others.

By the end of the decade, all the pieces that make up a CRM platform were in use, but they were viewed as separate tools or methods. Contact management was mainstream, but there was no standalone product known as a CRM.

Becoming a Standalone Product

By the mid-’90s, the true potential of automated contact management and database marketing was apparent. While there was still no standalone CRM software, all the ingredients were there. In 1993, when Tom Siebel (Siebel Systems) rolled all of these features and functions into one software, it became the market leader. Competition for market share led to better software, and in 1995, the CRM acronym was born and the market skyrocketed.

1999 saw two major changes to the CRM market.

First, companies like Siebel began offering mobile CRM and e-CRM platforms, taking the manual functions of traditional CRM and putting an emphasis on mobile and electronic contact management and database marketing.

Then, in February of ‘99, Salesforce was born, and with it came the world’s first cloud-based CRM.

Benefits of the CRM Platform

When considering CRM solutions for your brand, it’s important to distinguish between features and benefits. According to a survey from Selecthub, contact management and sales automation are the two most important features of a CRM platform. Beyond that, there’s only a handful of formal features or functions to discuss. However, there’s an endless stream of benefits when it comes to CRM solutions.

In order to cover some of the more impactful benefits, let’s take a look at each letter of the acronym: C.R.M.

<a href='crm-platform'>crm platform</a>

“C” for Customer

CRM isn’t the only thing that’s come a long way since the 1950’s, as customers today have more power and information at their fingertips than ever before.

”The tech-savvy Customer 2.0 relates to all things digital, starts his/her purchasing process online, chooses to conduct all research digitally, seeks feedback through social media and prefers emails to phone calls.” (SuperOffice)

A customer-first mentality is essential to winning over the "tech-savvy Customer 2.0."

Creating a unique experience for customers is crucial to the success of your sales and marketing efforts. You have to be proactive, and the CRM platform gives you the tools you need in order to be proactive.

“R” for Relationship

Behind all the technical business jargon there exists one overarching goal for your sales and marketing teams -- to build new relationships with prospects, and to strengthen your bond with existing customers.

build new relationships with prospects

A crm tool helps you achieve this by giving your team members insights into customer behavior. The data stored on your CRM highlights buying behavior, interests, needs, pain points, lifetime value, and other key variables you can use to personalize campaigns and communications.

And although teamwork is often taken for granted, CRMs also help strengthen the relationship between your sales and marketing teams. A strong bond between these two teams increases productivity and enhances customer service.

"It's all about your customer," * says CustomerThink contributor Fretty Francis. "CRM software helps improve communication between the marketing and sales team. That way, the team can strategize together towards a common goal. As a result, it leads to improved lead quality and reduces duplication of tasks leading to increased productivity."*

“M” for Management

With the customer in mind, crm allow for large scale data-collection. This data can be analyzed and used to optimize future campaigns and communications.

This personalized optimization is great for sales communications, but it’s also invaluable to marketing campaigns. Data collected in your CRM platform can help with focused targeting, list segmentation, and personalized content. These methods help marketers create campaigns for social media, email marketing, PPC Management, search engine optimization (SEO), and more.

crm platform

Conclusion

Hopefully we’ve done a good job explaining the importance of using a CRM platform. However, a quick Google search will return thousands of solutions to choose from. The process of selecting a CRM for your business can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.

When considering best crm software solutions, it’s important to keep your budget in mind. You know the challenges your teams face on a daily basis. Look for a CRM platform that addresses those challenges with powerful features to help you and your team overcome them.

Most importantly, talk with your team members. You sales and marketing teams will use this new software more than anyone else. It’s important to get their feedback as this ensures a smooth transition to the new product.

Finally, if you’re in the market for a new CRM solution, we’d like to invite you to try CRM.io free for 30 days. It’s the perfect CRM solution for small and medium size businesses looking to grow in the near future. CRM.io provides powerful features designed to help your business thrive, and the framework easily scales with you as your brand grows.

If you’d like to learn more about CRM.io and sign up for a free trial, click here.

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