In its early days, cloud computing was often met with wariness. Many companies were cautious of trusting a third party like a vendor to run their software remotely, on their own servers, and only pay for it as they needed. After years of creating paper customer records and storing them in cabinets they could see and touch, then leap to digital records on a server under someone's desk, the cloud seemed a leap too far – too ephemeral to put their trust in.
Add some initial disappointment in the very first CRM applications and their endless troubleshooting requirements, and it was understandable that reps were sceptical that a cloud CRM would be a game-changer.
But a lot has changed since those days. Cloud computing and CRMs haven’t just matured - they’ve transformed. The latest Salesforce research into small and medium business trends show CRM systems are now in the top technology budget priority for SMBs with 31% of SMB leaders listing CRM as a top 3 priority.
But some of the old anxieties about the cloud persist and, with a lot of other things to contend with on any given day, some companies are still slow to embrace the benefits of cloud CRM.
So here’s a refresher on the business case for a CRM that runs on the cloud. It might be the right time to prompt those discussions you’ve always been meaning to have with your boss or IT team.
Make calls. Dash out for a meeting. Race back to the office. Repeat.
It’s a familiar routine to many a sales rep from the time before CRM, or when CRMs only ran on premises. Even the best applications still required reps to be in the office to input the data about customers and prospects that might lead to closing a deal.
This assumed, of course, they would be able to remember all the critical details, or decipher their own handwriting from whatever notes they had scribbled.
But just as cloud computing allows software to run from a remote location, it also allows sales reps to access their CRM at any point. With vital information at their fingertips, reps can close a deal from on the road or in a customer’s office, from an industry event or out of hours at home.
And with AI and voice recognition built in, reps can say goodbye to the mountains of admin that currently mean they spend, on average, just a third of their time actually selling.
With the vast majority of information now held in digital format, constant and easy access is essential. From a sales perspective, application downtime isn’t just a productivity killer. It’s a revenue killer, and potentially damaging to client relationships and business reputation.
Cloud CRM frees up your IT department and, if anything does go wrong, the team addressing it is the same one that built it in the first place, which usually means problems get solved a lot faster.
As a subscription-based approach to software deployment, the cloud ensures everyone has the same access to the latest version of the CRM tools. Where on site CRM applications had to be updated when a new model was released – with the associated cost and downtime – the consistency of the cloud makes this process seamless.
In the days of on-site CRM, sales reps not only have to be in the office to check details or input data, but sharing data was fraught with the risk of sending the wrong version of a duplicated document or a list of figures that hadn’t been updated.
CRM in the cloud eliminates these dangers and provides a kind of shared office space where any member of the team can see the latest version of what they need, whenever they need it.
CRM is more than just a repository of data. It has the power to analyse that data and help the sales team improve win rates and hit targets more often. Cloud CRM can easily integrate with marketing and customer service platforms, as well as AI applications.
The best cloud CRM systems allow you to grow, customise and upgrade your systems as your business expands. Adding users and extending capabilities becomes a matter of clicks, rather than a matter of implementing costly, time-consuming new updates.
Cloud CRM can have a transformative effect on SMBs with other benefits including faster customer service and report generation, greater automation of tasks, visibility for multiple users and more leads.
Our research shows that growing SMBs are 139% more likely than stagnant or declining SMBs to say a CRM system is helpful for attracting new customers, 78% more likely to benefit from integrating their CRM with other systems, and 46% more likely to have created the holy grail of customer service – a unified customer view.
It’s time to shake off old hesitations about cloud CRM and embrace the enormous benefits it can offer your business.
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CRM is the top technology budget priority for SMBs globally. Find out more about the trends, challenges and priorities driving SMBs in the latest Small and Medium Business Trends report.