B2B CRM (customer relationship management) software is evolving at a faster rate than ever. New technologies are emerging (advanced automation, machine learning, etc.), which are revolutionizing B2B CRM uses and practices.
What all these new trends have in common is the emphasis placed on maintaining a lasting, lasting customer relationship that extends over time. If customer relationship management has always been part of a medium/long-term perspective, new technologies and new uses make it possible to accentuate this underlying trend.
Let’s go together to meet the TOP 10 trends in B2B CRM.
1. The development of subscription business models (from acquisition to retention)
The old model of one-shot selling is changing. The objective is no longer to maximize sales at a given moment but to create a lasting customer relationship synonymous with repeated purchases over time. The time has come for projection, the focus on lifetime value, and the generalization of subscription business models. The SaaS software industry, based on the subscription model, will be valued at $ 162 billion within the next two years. The subscription model has already left its original territory: the media and services. All economic sectors are affected by the subscription wave.
This trend makes the business process more complex than ever. Income generation is no longer just the business of salespeople. All departments are now concerned by this concern, by this objective: from marketers to product teams. All of the company’s businesses, through their activity, have an impact on the bottom line:
- The marketing team in its production of educational content aimed at responding to customer issues and accelerating progress in the conversion funnel.
- The Customer Success Team, whose entire activity is aimed at limiting customer churn as much as possible and maximizing revenues through cross-selling and upsell.
- Product teams looking to design products with a unique user experience that generates word of mouth.
Everyone in the company takes part in the customer relationship. Commercial strategies are no longer driven only by the objective of customer acquisition. The real engine of growth now is retention. We have stopped thinking that more customers = more income. The increase in revenue comes from existing customers more than new customers.
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2. From CRM as a sales cash register to CRM as a holistic customer relationship management tool
Insofar as retention has become an important issue, business processes are becoming more complex. Collecting leads, advancing them in the pipeline, waiting for them to convert: this linear process has become too simplistic. The business processes of the future will be cyclical. They will require repeated, rich, dense interactions with customers. They will run for months, years after the first sale. The performance of commercial strategies will be measured less by the data generated (lead scores, conversion rate, volume of deals) than by the quality of the experience generated. This will require broader skills from sales reps and a deeper understanding of customers. Being comfortable on the phone and a good salesperson will no longer suffice.
3. B2B CRM will become the tool of all employees in contact (direct or indirect) with customers
Everyone in the company is potentially in contact with customers, directly or indirectly, directly or indirectly. But, historically, CRM was conceived and thought of as the tool of the sales force. In the years to come, we will see a de-piloting of CRM systems. CRM systems will become customer relationship management software in all its dimensions, in all its phases. The CRM will make it possible to circulate all the information on the customers to all the collaborators of the company. Integration technologies will multiply, allowing all customer data and a wider set of functionalities to be integrated into the CRM. CRMs will become more interactive. Reporting functionalities will be enhanced.
Sharing data between marketing and sales teams, via reporting, will help strengthen relational and sales performance. B2B CRM will become the operator of the integration and alignment of marketing and sales.
4. More conversations, fewer forms
Lead generation processes today all look a bit alike and follow the same pattern: offering high added value content (white paper, ebook, infographics, etc.) in exchange for filling out a form. Content for data. There is nonsense in this way of doing things: you ask your prospects to give you information (often a lot of information), you bombard them with questions before even offering them something, before even answering their questions. In the years to come, the strategies will evolve. Companies will try to give more information before asking for it, via chatbots for example. Forms, cold, inert, and aggressive, will be replaced by conversations. Customers will decide whether or not to enter the conversion funnel.
5. The B2B CMS will centralize the data generated by content marketing
In a world where information is just a click away, online resources (blog articles, case studies, etc.) play a fundamental role in purchasing decisions. Producing this type of content allows you to learn a lot more about your prospects, to identify their problems and their needs. For example :
- If a prospect reads and rereads a blog post about customer acquisition costs, chances are they’re spending too much money on new customer acquisition.
- If another prospect downloads a case study comparing your product to those of your closest competitors, they would surely benefit from a phone call from you.
The problem is, the data generated from online resources is often scattered across dozens of apps and channels: blog post analytics is accessible in Google analytics while case studies are stored in Google Drive… Even your communication with prospects is fragmented: social networks, LiveChat, email…
The more content you create, the harder it is to analyze and understand the real behavior of people. To avoid this situation, it is important to set up real content management. Which means :
- Create a “commercial CMS”: organize content production using commercial criteria: stage in the conversion funnel, customer segment, product line, etc.
- Track how prospects engage with content: see which emails are read, which links are clicked …
- Identify the most efficient resources, those that generate the maximum commitment at the start of the commercial relationship.
Rather than sending classic email sequences, sales reps, in the future, will make more use of current customer data to create more personalized emails, share articles and case studies identified as successful in the development phase. lead generation.
6. Less information gathering during prospecting calls, less manual data entry
Prospecting and qualifying phone calls are a source of frustration for both prospects and salespeople. Sales reps need to fill in the lines of their spreadsheets with information such as the size of the company, the contact’s seniority, their position, the company’s budget, etc. For their part, prospects want information about the product and often feel harassed by the sometimes insistent questions of their interlocutor. Usually, no one comes out satisfied with a prospecting call.
Advances in technology have made it possible to remedy this situation and set up a more flexible, smoother lead qualification process. Most of the information that salespeople need to qualify leads are available on the internet (Google, LinkedIn, etc.), whether it is the size of the company, the position of the representative of the company with which you are in contact, etc. . Web tools, like Clearbit, make it possible to automatically retrieve all this information. There are even tools that allow you to integrate this information directly into the contact files of the CRM. These new tools both reduce the time spent entering data and limit the number of questions to ask prospects during calls.
7. The arrival of video messages in prospecting emails
It has become harder than ever to successfully engage prospects. As mailboxes are over-requested, prospects (almost) no longer read prospecting emails. Hot emails (sent following a specific interaction: registration, purchase, request for information, etc.) are read more. Their click-through rate is between 2 and 3%. Sending shorter, more personalized emails improve email performance. But to get really meaningful results, bigger changes are needed.
One of the major trends at the moment is video messages. With tools like Wistia, it has become very quick and easy to record short video messages and embed them in emails with one click. This format makes it possible to stand out from its competitors. Still, very few companies use this format.
If video messages are a new format, the topics covered are quite similar to those of classic emails:
- Presentation of the sales manager.
- Explanation of the reasons why the person is contacted.
- CTA (for example appointment proposal).
Videos make it possible to humanize part of the commercial process. Wistia was able to generate a 300% increase in click-through rate with video messages.
8. The irresistible development of automation in B2B CRM
Respond to an email, schedule an appointment, send business proposals: all these tasks are time-consuming, eat up time that would be better used elsewhere. More and more of these repetitive and low-value tasks will be automated in the years to come. It is the B2B CRM that will take care of personalizing the emails and choosing the best way to send them.
This will free up time for salespeople, who will be able to spend more time with prospects, develop listening and communication.
9. pipeline management will become predictive
44% of salespeople believe their organization is mismanaging the sales pipeline. Not surprising. Having to trace thousands of leads is a monstrous task, complicated by the often rather limited reporting features offered by CRM software. In the future, more and more companies will implement predictive models for pipeline management, use machine learning algorithms to proactively identify and resolve issues in the pipeline.
“No business can perfectly predict how much revenue it will make in any given month… There are too many variables to consider. But perfection is not the goal. Predicting means getting close enough to make the right decisions ”
If it is impossible to make perfect predictions, we can make B2B CRM “smart” enough to successfully make the right decisions. That means :
- Bring consistency to all intention signals from prospects to move them through the funnel at the right time.
- Predict revenue and predict how many prospects will turn into customers.
- Get up-to-date lead data in the reports in a few clicks.
The management of the pipeline, in the future, will cease to be a “reactive” process. Salespeople will be able to translate customer data into sales actions .
10. The birth of the unified sales stack
In recent years, we have witnessed a fragmentation of the technological landscape. The tools are multiplying with the development of SaaS software in particular. There used to be a handful of all-in-one CRM suites. Today there are thousands of specialist publishers.
Faced with such a choice, the sales teams seek to develop coherent stacks, to select the best tools in their field (best of breed), and to create connections between them. But this model of the organization poses problems. Each tool has its interface, its processes, its data. The data is scattered. There are too many apps to manage. We are witnessing big changes in the technological landscape: a process of unification. We see more and more tools integrating CRM functionalities, for example. Some companies, for example, choose to use the Google suite to manage the CRM (via Gmail, Google Drive, Chrome, etc.).
All these trends have one thing in common, they pursue the same objective: to strengthen B2B Customer Relations. It’s a tidal wave. Faced with unbridled competition, the only way to stand out lies in the ability to offer prospects and customers a strong relationship that is no longer synonymous with over-solicitation but of personalization, listening, relevance. A long-term customer relationship. New B2B CRM tools and practices all point in this direction.
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