Buzzwords abound in the world of sales and marketing software and the core of these offerings, customer relationship management ("CRM") systems, are often the culprits driving the hype cycles.
Thinking back over recent years the terms apps, marketplace, productivity, success, automation, big data, and machine learning come to mind. The newest bunch seem to revolve around claims of artificial intelligence, or as implemented in marketing speak, smart.
I tend to chuckle every time I see some new bleeding edge buzzword start to make the rounds in our industry. Why? Because to me the general theme of all of this buzz is designed to tell you what you should want, rather than understand what you need.
I completely understand the need for players in this highly competitive CRM space to want to stand out from the crowd. However, I believe another dynamic is also at play - the fear of missing out ("FOMO"). Considering that most every CRM guilty of propagating buzzwords has been funded by a venture capital fund which also acquired a board seat, there is probably added pressure to fear missing out, because FOMO is a large component of the venture capital model.
But again, what do those competitive pressures have to do with understanding what you and your SMB need? I would argue that the answer to that question is not much. While technology trends underlying many of these platforms are evolving, the way you do business likely isn't changing much.
Furthermore, the biggest thorn in the side of all CRM businesses is user adoption per account. The DNA of the salesperson hasn't changed in known history. They have, and likely always will, prefer to focus on selling over administering. They are driven by the thrill of the hunt, if you will. And, if the buzzwords of the past have proven true, then user adoption per account would have skyrocketed. However, it has remained constant over the last 10 years, if not even declined a bit (source: CSO Insights article Demystifying CRM Adoption Rates from January 2016)
Every time we go back to exercises which help us understand the needs of SMB customers of CRM, the term simple keeps surfacing. Not smart or productive or marketplace or whatever else is trending. To quote one of the most successful people I've even known:
There is ingenuity in simplicity.
Simplicity is not sexy, but it's what counts. Because simple means the system will be used. And a CRM that is used allows you to improve the trust in your forecast. Considering your forecast drives the remainder of your business from resourcing to planning, an improved trust in your forecast is one of the most important values a CRM can deliver to you.
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