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State of CRM Survey Shows CRM Evolving to ‘Customer Personal Assistant’ to Support Next-Gen Sales, Marketing and Service

by | Sep 20, 2023

Real-world demands make the case for modern CRM infused with AI and automation to surface insights, guide next-best actions, and make the hard things easier for practitioners 

CONNECTED 2023 – AUSTIN, Texas – September 20, 2023 – A new survey shows organizations are demanding more from their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) investments to meet modern-day sales, marketing and customer service needs. These pressures are forging the future of CRM as a ‘customer personal assistant’, with AI surfacing insights and next-best action guidance to empower employees on the front lines tasked with providing exceptional customer experiences.    

Over the past five years, CRM has undergone significant changes, driven by technological advancements, shifting customer expectations, and evolving business needs. To take a pulse on the market today, SugarCRM surveyed more than 800 global business-to-business sales, marketing, service, and IT leaders from May 15 to July 1 to understand shifting CRM use cases over the past five years, and what new CRM activities companies are prioritizing moving forward. 

The research shows that CRM has a more strategic role in driving sales and marketing operations than ever before. A full 60 percent are using CRM as a centralized communications hub for nurturing leads and/or customers, while 43 percent are leveraging it for sales forecasting and pipeline insights, and 41 percent are using it to capture intent data and/or for lead scoring.  

57 percent say they perceive their CRM solution as more important now than five years ago in helping achieve their sales and marketing goals. 37 percent of respondents lean on CRM for sales pipeline visibility, 35 percent depend on it for sales lead quality, and 31 percent rely on it for sales lead quantity.  

“No longer is CRM simply a note-taking database; now it must analyze data and guide reps on where to focus their attention throughout the day,” said Clint Oram, SugarCRM’s Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer.  

Over the past five years, organizations have been leveraging CRM to support customer service and upsell/cross-sell activities (33%), mid-funnel lead generation and nurturing (32%), early-stage awareness (21%) and low-funnel sales efforts (14%).  

When asked about marketing and sales technologies that organizations have integrated with their CRM solutions, nearly half (46%) have integrated marketing automation and/or email marketing solutions. Over one-third (35%) of those surveyed have integrated analytics and/or measurement dashboards, while only 12 percent have integrated account-based marketing tools.  

“To be successful in today’s highly competitive market, every customer-facing team needs to work together with a common view of the customer and tightly intertwined, cross-functional processes. The key to increased CRM effectiveness is the breaking down of barriers across departments,” commented Oram. “Marketing needs to know how sellers are following up on the leads they create. Sellers need high-quality leads to come from marketing. Service teams need sellers to set customers up for success with appropriate expectations. Marketing needs service teams to drive up-sell and cross-sell opportunities back into the marketing funnel.”  

Top priorities for maximizing value from CRM systems over the next five years include: Gaining a complete view of all customer interactions (45%), while leveraging AI is cited by 20 percent of respondents. Being able to generate targeted or personalized content across channels is a goal for 14 percent of those surveyed.  

Although CRM is viewed as more essential to B2B organizations than ever before, companies still face challenges with their current CRM system of record. 41 percent say they suffer from platform feature limitations, while 41 percent cite technology integration issues as a major challenge. 37 percent admit internal knowledge and skills impede their CRM use, with an additional 34 percent citing technology adoption as a challenge.  

Commenting on this finding Oram said: “CRM must be intuitive and self-guiding. Users don’t have time to attend training classes or fumble around with clunky and complex software products. ‘Easy’ trumps all other CRM software evaluation considerations. AI is delivering on this promise by taking away the need to sift through reams of data or ‘stare and compare’ at charts to find insights. No longer do sellers have to wait on compelling and engaging content to come from marketing. In the year ahead, the growing application and acceptance of predictive and generative AI will embolden customer-facing professionals to expect – and demand – even more from their CRM tools.” 

To learn more about the State of CRM Survey, please visit: www.sugarcrm.com/hd-cx/content/state-of-crm/.  

About SugarCRM

SugarCRM is a CRM software that helps marketing, sales, and service teams reach peak efficiency through better automation, data, and intelligence so they can achieve a real-time, reliable view of each customer. Sugar’s platform provides leading technology in the sales automation, marketing automation, and customer service fields with one goal in mind: to make the hard things easier. 

Thousands of companies in over 120 countries rely on Sugar by letting the platform do the work. Headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sugar is backed by Accel-KKR.

Bulldog Reporter
Bulldog Reporter is a leader in media intelligence supplying news, analysis and high-level training content to public relations and corporate communications professionals with the mission of helping these practitioners achieve superior competitive performance.

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