It is safe to say that customer relationship management (CRM) software is the heart and soul of customer engagement. If your company does not use a CRM, it is the right time to make the switch.
As companies continue to become more aware and accustomed to the benefits of online CRM software, the demand is certainly on the rise. Having said that, nearly 22% of the sales representatives still do not know what a CRM tool is . But do you know what are the current CRM trends?
As a business owner, it is essential to stay afloat with the latest technology trends and upgrade your tech stack accordingly. Today, CRMs have become a top priority for customer engagement. In fact, nearly 48% of companies have revealed that improving their CRM sales channel is one of their main sales agendas this year .
The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the goalpost for many B2B companies, from being tech-focused to more customer-oriented. Stakeholders in the B2B space believe that 2021 will pave the way for innovative and cutting-edge digital strategies.
Continue reading to learn more about the new CRM trends that are likely to dominate in 2021 and beyond.
Current and Future CRM Trends
Although the technology was the main driving force behind the CRM wave in the past, evolving customer demands will influence CRM adoption in the future. The rapidly changing customer preferences coupled with the insurgence of cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT) will certainly have an impact on the CRM market in the upcoming years.
Besides, as more and more organizations press for modernization, it won’t come as a surprise to see a CRM system in most businesses.
The spotlight will also remain on improving customer experiences and increasing customer retention by leveraging data analytics.
Nearly 40% of employees working in sales still rely on informal techniques such as email programs and spreadsheets to save customer information . We expect that number to decrease over the next few years due to two main reasons; one, the decreasing costs of online CRM software, and two, the rising awareness of their advantages.
Here are the top CRM trends we expect to see in 2021 and beyond.
1. Unifying Sales and Marketing
As CRM systems evolve, they will play an important role in unifying the sales and marketing teams. Considering the current business environment around the world, companies have started to understand the importance of aligning sales, operations, and marketing around common goals.
Gone are the days when sales and marketing teams could afford to take a dig at each other and waste time on internal conflicts.
When the sales and marketing teams start sharing common objectives and also have common messaging, there is a strong chance even the marketing teams will have revenue targets.
Today, companies of all sizes and forms are also focusing on aligning their customer service, sales and marketing. Hence, when companies formulate their CRM strategies, it should include centralized touchpoints for improved customer success.
2. Personalized lead generation
There are more than 1 billion websites on the world wide web that are trying to catch your attention. How do you stand out? The answer could be personalization. Today, customization or personalization has become one of the main differentiating factors in this highly competitive digital environment.
The only way to make an impression is to focus on personalization. Did you know that around 36% of shoppers are of the opinion that brands should offer more personalized marketing material? .
You need to focus on bringing in more leads with personalization. The one-size-fits-all approach is likely to fade out and become a thing of the past. This is why personalization has slowly become an important part of content marketing.
But there is something you should keep in mind. If your personalization tactics are not driven by data gathered from CRM tools, you should reconsider your content strategy.
It is predicted that around 320 billion emails will be delivered each day in 2021, and 72% of customers will reply to customized messages . This clearly indicates that tailored marketing messages are the key to make a lasting impression in an overburdened inbox.
Personalized messages boost customer engagement, builds brand loyalty, and also broadens your customer base.
3. AI-powered CRMs
Is there any field where AI is not making inroads? Right from business intelligence, automation, APIs, and conversational user interfaces, AI has spread its wings almost everywhere.
In the B2B space, AI is primarily being used for marketing activities such as email marketing and automation. In addition, it is also being used to create data-driven business models that are used in various CRM systems.
Artificial intelligence systems such as business model predictors and chatbots provide leads and lead data to sales and marketing professionals. This process saves considerable time, effort and also decreases manual work.
Automation will play an important role in augmenting productivity and cutting down on time spent on finishing manual tasks.
4. Self-service into current channels
Another major trend that we are likely to see particularly related to AI is the increasing use of CRM chatbots. CRM chatbots serve as a self-service system that provides new and prospective customers with swift answers to their questions. Besides, these systems also provide you with clarity pertaining to their requirements so that you can provide relevant information and solutions.
Self-service systems can also forecast customer requests and requirements. This means that sales and marketing professionals can further automate their communication and engage with customers with personalized insights.
5. Mobile CRM
Mobility in tech stacks is not a new concept. However, in the tech space, the demand for mobile-friendly technologies continues to move in an upward trajectory as B2B employees require remote access to CRM information, particularly when they are not in the office premises.
Besides the office desk, sales representatives are likely to find selling opportunities at other places as well such as virtual events, lunch meetings, and social media mentions. A mobile CRM offers flexibility to sales and marketing professionals and enables them to be more efficient and crush their goals with ease.
6. Core features
At present, CRM systems of all shapes and sizes are available in the market. With a sea of CRMs to choose from, selecting the right tool that addresses the bottlenecks of your sales and marketing needs can be intimidating.
We understand that! You can go through our tool reviews of some of the leading CRM software companies and make an informed decision.
There are some core features that you should be looking for in a top CRM software:
- Interaction tracking
- Personalized alerts and notifications
- Mobile CRMs
7. Social CRM
Traditionally, you wouldn’t expect prospects and customers to own conversations in business relationships. However, it has become essential in digital-focused markets.
The technology industry has wasted no time to recognize this paradigm shift and developed the social CRM.
The beauty of social media is that it allows users to engage with companies and brands in different ways. Well, that’s right! Social media is much more than just memes, GIFs, and viral videos.
According to Delloite, nearly 97% of visitors on an average website are anonymous, and not part of a company’s CRM . Social media is a game-changer here!
When you integrate social media platforms with your online CRM software, your social CRM collects new data to boost brand awareness and lead generation.
Final Thoughts – Influence of Technology on CRM Trends
Technology will have a strong influence on digital strategies in the future. Here’s an eye-opener for you! Around 44% of businesses are likely to increase their IT budgets in 2021 to stay competitive and also boost sales. 
The CRM market has witnessed commendable growth in the past few years, and 2021 will be no different.
Besides, the COVID-19 pandemic has compelled companies to lay emphasis on remote communication in a customer-oriented landscape. Even when employees are back in offices again, communications with CRM solutions will remain very critical moving forward.
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