If you pay attention to tech, it's no secret that Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is a remarkably fast-growing market. In fact, CRM recently became the fastest growing software market in the world. The velocity of growth doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon, as new competitors are coming onto the scene the market is constantly shifting and being disrupted. Market leaders like Salesforce, Oracle and SAP are swiftly adapting their products to meet new market demands, but it's still uncertain who will undoubtedly come out on top.
With a market that's moving this fast, it's important to sit down and try to understand what the source of growth is. In this case, CRM companies are taking advantage of many avenues for achieving massive growth. Let's go ahead and take a look at a few of them.
Growing Reliance on Cloud-Based Solutions
The cloud-revolution is upon us. It's obvious that in the past decade, web-apps have become a big part of our day-to-day lives. Where we used to rely on applications that didn't require a constant internet connection to use, the times have certainly changed with the dawn of the SaaS market. It's way more common now for companies or consumers to buy software with a subscription pricing-model, allowing paying customers to access services all within their web-browser or mobile app. The advantages are seen here in the form of cross-platform use, lifetime support, and different functionalities that a cloud-based environment lends itself nicely to like keeping data in-sync.
A look at Pardot, Salesforce's cloud-based marketing CRM product
All of this extends to the CRM market, and we can see that most of the CRM giants are migrating away from on-site hosted applications, to cloud-based versions of their CRM. This, in turn, has allowed companies like Salesforce to meet market demand for more connected, on-demand services.
Another key factor here is that migrating to cloud-based solutions have made these types of software more accessible to a more diverse clientele. For instance, in the past CRM systems were something that only enterprise-grade companies had access to due to their reliance on on-site servers to power the system. Now that no hardware infrastructure is needed, among offering a range of services in the cloud, CRM becomes a lot more accessible to a wider market.
Entering New Markets
Connected to our prior point that cloud-based CRM is a driving force in rapid market growth, we now turn to market expansion. There's no doubt that an increased focus on cloud-based software is allowing CRM companies to expand into new markets, let's take a closer look at what markets in-particular are fueling the growth:
Regionally, North American businesses have consistently been the largest consumers of CRM software. As a more mature market, this makes complete sense. Despite this, in recent years emerging markets have begun to utilize CRM as their business processes become more mature. More structured processes, combined with the growing accessibility of cloud-based infrastructure in developing countries have opened a much larger global market for CRM players.
The Asian market, in particular, has seen massive adoption for CRM products, and is contributing massively to growth in the industry. For example, Alibaba recently obtained permission to distribute Salesforce in mainland China. This is a huge move, as it opens the largest market in the world to the largest CRM provider. China is among India for the fastest-growing economies, and they are paving the way for CRM to grow massively in the coming years.
Another way that CRM companies are entering new markets is through the differentiation of their products to cater to businesses of various scales. The SaaS model is perfect for selling multiple tiers of software products, allowing limited-feature versions of CRM software to be sold to smaller-scale companies. Often times, free versions of CRM products are offered for startups and SMB's, allowing them to upgrade their software as their companies scale. Hubspot is an excellent example of this, they offer a wide range of free tools and services alongside their free CRM product.
The flexibility of multiple tiers in a software product is convenient for smaller companies, allowing them to take advantage of lower subscription prices depending on their needs. Even some newer CRM companies are hitting the scene like Pipedrive and Freshworks that target startups and small businesses both in pricing and features.
Observing so many different competitors looking to capitalize on these emerging markets is interesting. Time will only tell if these competitors can dethrone some of the giants like Salesforce or Oracle. One thing is clear though, flexibility and accessibility are driving adoption of CRM software, increasing growth for the market.
CRM used to be fairly limited to sales-focused software products. In recent years, market leaders have begun to diversify their products to meet the needs of different departments. Marketing automation and Customer Support have been big driving forces for this as most CRM providers have been rolling these types of features into their products. Moving away from being solely sales software to being something more all-encompassing for business has increased the value of CRM for a wide range of companies. It's clear we are reaching a point where you have a clear advantage for utilizing the different services and features of CRM software.
A look at Salesforce's "Appexchange", their integrations marketplace.
Extending from this, CRM market-leaders have found a lot of success using open API's to allow third-party developers to develop integrations that leverage the data in a companies CRM. By giving integration developers access to CRM data, a lot of functionality can be extracted in a variety of ways such as more in-depth automation, or connections to some of the most popular business apps like Gmail. CRM companies like Salesforce host these integrations on a marketplace where they can be easily installed, and they take a cut of the profits. This ability to customize CRM to meet your companies needs allows a wider range of industries to find value in these software products.
Apps and Integrations Transforming CRM
It’s obvious the actual functionality and features of your CRM can modified and transformed through apps and integrations. It’s possible to obtain seemingly endless benefits from popular CRMs, it just requires some experimentation with which add-ons work for your company. Every company has different business processes and overarching organizational structure, many apps and integrations have designed their solutions to meet the diverse needs of companies. It’s safe to say apps and integrations that are designed for CRM have a big part to do with their growth.
SaaS products like the various apps and integrations aren’t cheap, when you start building a fairly robust stack of different solutions your bills can add up fast. You should prioritize CRM add-ons that will bring the most tangible benefits, and bring value back to your company.
A lot of these are specifically designed to work with CRM, and their business models are entirely built around this. Let’s take a moment to examine some different types of CRM Apps and Integrations that can help you reach your various goals.
A huge part of a salesperson's job involves interacting with their pipeline and various contacts inside their CRM. Originally built to be exclusively tools for sales, CRM is no stranger to this part of business processes. Because of this, most CRM software has extensive features catering towards the sales context, but plenty more functionality can be extracted from apps and integrations. Some awesome solutions have emerged in recent years that serve to amplify a salesperson's CRM, utilizing its data to enhance their day-to-day jobs.
Here’s a few notable examples of CRM apps and integrations that can change your sales process for the better:
- Aircall uses CRM integrations to allow salespeople to track, monitor and review sales-calls directly within their CRM of choice. It has an extensive list of features that leverage the power of CRM, and currently supports Salesforce, Hubspot, and Copper. A tool like this is basically essential for any sales teams who do a lot of calling.
- Use an integration like Leadfeeder to automatically input leads generated from your website into your CRM. This allows your sales reps to reduce manual data-entry, and focus on productive sales actions that lead to results. Currently Leadfeeder is available for Salesforce, Hubspot, Pipedrive, and Zoho.
- Proposify allows you to craft attractive sales proposals for your leads and prospects, leveraging your CRM data to enrich the proposals with all the relevant information for the deal. By utilizing this cloud-based solution, sales teams can track their proposals in real-time, monitoring when they are viewed, and accepted.
CRM and its growing importance in most business processes has had a converging effect on sales and marketing. Long gone are the days of totally separate sales and marketing operations, as CRM brings them closer together, and allows both business sectors to work together more fluidly. The ability to feed leads generated from your marketing cycle directly into your CRM allows for business prospects to be tracked in real-time across departments. Customer profiles and detailed contacts with context-driven data derived from your marketing can be used to help the sales-team know who they are selling to, as well as allowing your marketing to more targeted and personal.
There are several apps and integrations that are enhancing the way marketing teams are using CRM to their advantage. Let’s take a look at a few:
- An integration with ActiveCampaign allows you to use your leverage your CRM data to personalize email campaigns. Using this solution makes tracking your email marketing efforts easier by visualizing the data that matters most. ActiveCampaign even has their own CRM solution that is worth checking out, but they also integrate directly with Salesforce.
- Vidyard takes your video marketing campaigns head-on by giving you the power to deploy, and track engagement with your video content across all your marketing channels. With its wide-range of CRM integrations, Vidyard allows you to interact directly with your contacts and delight them with your video content. Being able to track the engagement with this content, all within your CRM is a perfect example of integrations tying many business processes together into one place.
- If you are a highly analytics driven marketer, it’s definitely worth having a CRM integration like Bizible on your side. Using a solution like this can let you have a more visual understanding of how your marketing campaigns are performing. This can be highly useful for simplifying data like ad-spend and channel engagement in a way that is actionable. Currently supporting Salesforce, Bizible is helpful for taking your CRM data and displaying it so it's relevant to your marketing team.
As we discussed earlier in this article, the previously sales-focused CRM market has expanded to more diverse markets. One of the most successful of these has been Customer Support. Being able to review, respond and manage support tickets directly in your CRM is a possibility that is furthering the notion that CRM is an all-inclusive business tool now. Being able to automatically collect data from support interactions makes it so your clients CRM contacts are enriched with more relevant information for you, your customer support staff, and even your sales team.
A few notable examples of Customer Support apps with extensive support for mainstream CRM software:
- LiveChat uses its Support Chat data and chat logs to help contextualize your customers profiles, helping your sales and marketing teams have a more personal understanding of your clients.
- Popular support ticket platform, Zendesk, integrates with Salesforce to allow customer support reps to create, edit and manage support tickets directly in their CRM.
- Intercom allows you to sync your conversations across all instances of CRM, so differing levels of your company can have a firm understanding of your conversations with leads.
What’s next? We have to wait and see.
The market doesn’t seem to be slowing down, it will be interesting to see if some of the giants like Salesforce can stay on top. As we’ve discussed here, growing diversification and a larger focus on cloud-based solutions have allowed CRM giants (and startups) to enter new markets, while smaller CRM startups are finding ways to disrupt the market as a whole. By marketing themselves as “all-in-one” solutions, CRM companies will continue to expand and find new ways to enter the market.
Looking to build your own CRM integration and don’t know where to start? Get in touch with usWe’ll help you plan your project. With a roster of trained remote developers trained in various CRM API’s, we have the resources you need to launch an integration sooner rather than later.