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Customer relationship management (CRM) systems function as the heart of customer engagement. And if CRMs aren’t already a core part of the customer lifecycle, now is the time to switch.

It’s important to reconsider your tech stack when markets shift, and now CRMs are top priority for customer engagement. The future of CRM is in advanced intelligence and mobility, especially with recent pushes toward remote communications. 

2020 forced B2B organizations away from tech-focused goals and toward customer-focused initiatives. Experts in B2B fields predict this new year will allow more room for digital strategies.

Read on to discover the latest CRM trends for sales and marketers to use in 2021 — and beyond. 


Future Trends In CRM

CRM systems wear many hats, including channel management, customer insights, communications, engagement, and more. They help improve customer experiences and boost customer retention with ever-progressing data analytics features.

They have always been crucial for valuable customer insights for sales and marketing teams to act on, with the shared goal of closing more deals.

According to 92% of topic leaders in a Deloitte survey, CRMs will be a key priority for enabling business strategies. So heading into the new year, consider the following for future sales enablement and customer engagement, based on predicted trends: 

1. Share the same goals and tools between sales and marketing teams.

The best way to meet department and organization-wide goals is to meet customers’ goals. If your client of 5 years needs to close on two enterprise accounts this quarter, that’s now going to be your sales and marketing teams’ goal too.

To be successful, they have to align, set similar KPIs, and implement a CRM system that satisfies the needs of the entire digital strategy. Marketing teams are ultimately responsible for gaining attention from target audiences. From there, these leads are gradually pushed further down the funnel for sales teams to pick them up and close a deal.

So when both sales and marketers use the same CRM strategy, touchpoints are centralized into a single system for better customer success—the sales funnel becomes an escalator instead of a rollercoaster.

2. Bring in more fit leads with personalization.

One-sized-fits-all anything is boring. That’s why personalization has become an integral part of content marketing. 

If your personalization isn’t data-driven using CRMs, it’s time to rethink your content strategy. And here’s a fact: 56% of B2B organizations use CRMs to assist with content marketing.

CRM systems help gain insights by gathering and analyzing behavioral data, which can come from:

  • Customer support tickets
  • Event registrations
  • Meetings attended
  • Product demos received 
  • Email open rates
  • Content downloads

With these insights, you get a full 360 view of current, prospecting, and available customers. Creating these profile views gives marketers a concrete image of who is in the market to purchase their organization’s product or service. 

And for sales professionals, 360 customer views outline exactly who is fit to sign that contract.

3. Embrace artificial intelligence.

AI is appearing in automation, business intelligence, APIs, and more in the form of tools like conversational user interfaces (UI). But don’t worry, it’s not quite Skynet (yet).

For the B2B world, AI is being used more in marketing processes for communications and building data-driven business models used in CRM systems. AI systems, like chatbots and business model predictors, deliver leads and lead data directly to sales and marketing professionals, who have traditionally done so manually.

Automation cuts down on time spent on manual tasks; AI makes it smarter and faster.

4. Integrate self-servicing into existing channels.

Another part of this shift into AI includes self-servicing, such as CRM chatbots. These self-service systems can give current and prospecting customers their answers quicker, and with a better understanding of their needs.

With a CRM in place, self-servicing systems can predict customer requests and needs. This gives B2B professionals the option to automate communications further, or engage with these customers with better insights.

AI-enhanced customer-facing contact management saves time and optimizes resources for more valuable engagement.

5. Invest in mobile CRM.

Mobility is tech stacks is nothing new, but 2020 has intensified the need for mobile-friendly technology. Enter: mobile CRMs.

B2B professionals need remote access to CRM resources for unexpected business moments. The office desk isn’t the only place to find selling opportunities — they’re everywhere a customer can find and engage with a brand. This could range from a virtual event, lunch meeting, social media mention, and more.

This mobile CRM flexibility allows sales and marketing professionals to be more productive and meet goals without being tied to their desktop.

6. Embrace social CRMs with your social media channels.

Allowing your prospects and customers to own the conversation in business relationships goes against tradition — but is necessary in digital-focused markets. The tech industry has recognized this and created the social CRM.

Social media has allowed audiences to form new kinds of conversations with organizations. It

isn’t all emojis and viral videos. It’s an opportunity to find and engage with a wider array of prospective leads. 

Deloitte’s survey points out that 97% of the visitors of an average website are anonymous, and not part of a company’s CRM.

By integrating social media and other digital channels with CRMs, social CRM systems gather new insights for lead generation and brand awareness. 

7. Look for these features in your next CRM.

There are CRMs of all shapes and sizes, so you want to make sure you choose one that’s right for your B2B sales and marketing teams.

Here are significant features to look for in a CRM: 

  • Automation for multiple processes
  • Interaction tracking — from calls to emails
  • Customizable alerts and reminders (that integrate with your calendar and other applications)
  • Advanced analytics and reporting
  • Mobility and synchronization with mobile devices

The Next Steps In Utilizing CRMs In 2021

Something to consider for your tech stacks and digital strategies is that more than 50% of marketing budgets are expected to be spent on digital marketing by 2023.

2020 has forced us to adapt to remote communication in a customer-centric environment. And even when we face each other in person again, communications with CRM systems are going to be crucial.

About the author

Rayana Barnes

Rayana Barnes is the Creative Content Specialist at ZoomInfo, the leading B2B contact database and sales intelligence solution for go-to-market teams.

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