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Is Your CRM as Intelligent as It Should Be?

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An article last year in the Harvard Business Review titled “How AI Is Changing Sales” succinctly laid out the challenge for any company: finding new ways to grow its revenue, reduce costs, and expand market share while minimizing risk. And if data is the new oil, as the HBR (among others) posits, then companies that capture data, analyze it, and generate useful insights, the author noted, produce salespeople who’ll be able to strike it big by closing more deals.

You’re probably already aware that machine learning is a fast-evolving feature of today’s leading CRMs. Machine learning algorithms can fully employ existing data sets and serve up more predictive and personalized customer information in all areas of the business, including pricing optimization, sales forecasting, upselling and cross-selling, lead scoring, and managing sales team performance.

Some of the many key benefits of this technology marriage are improved lead generation, personalized marketing campaigns, accelerated sales cycles, and enhanced customer experiences. An AI-infused CRM can help predict buying patterns and trends from purchase histories while offering highly targeted product and upsell recommendations. This often leads to more accurate sales forecasting, more efficient sales processes, and increased customer retention.

The bottom line is that as your CRM becomes more intelligent, your company becomes more efficient, your salespeople more productive, and your customers more satisfied with the quality of their experiences with you.

If you’re still unconvinced, here are the range of ways your AI-infused CRM can sharpen your sales and marketing efforts:

  • Lead scoring:Identify and escalate the hottest leads based on customer engagement and interest.
  • Real-time pricing and quoting:Create faster quotes based on customers’ purchases and discount histories.
  • Real-time alerts:Get alerted when opportunities are stagnating in your pipeline.
  • Sales cycle automation:Automate everything from leads to closed deals.
  • Reduced data entry:Pre-populate fields and automate tasks and notifications to team members.
  • Personalized communications:Send personalized and targeted communications based on customer preferences and buying patterns.
  • Social media channel monitoring:Analyze how your customers perceive your brand and how they talk about you online.
  • Predictive marketing:Model the success of your marketing campaigns and see how to refine them before launch to maximize the impact.
  • Real-time response:Respond to inquiries from websites or social media platforms instantly, and automate to respond 24/7.
  • Triggered communication:Use AI, machine learning, and customer histories to initiate email campaigns that are highly focused and personalized and create engagement.
  • Close more deals, lose less:Generate useful insights and recommendations during the various stages of the sales cycle that will advise reps on the next course of action to close the deal or move it along.

Though many observers previously thought that CRM had peaked in its technological capability, AI-infused or intelligent CRM is expected to have a major impact on how businesses can put these tools to use. Industry analysts predict that the increase in marketing data and customer-centric insights will drive more responsive decision-making and create positive customer experiences.

There is no doubt that CRM and AI are a potent combination of technologies. Just as the internet has become the backbone of today’s sales and marketing, CRM platforms have had to evolve to capture and organize a wide range of signals and data points about prospects and customers. AI can unquestionably help in that effort.

But do you actually need an AI-infused CRM? Every business is different, and this issue needs to be considered as part of your overall CRM strategy. On the one hand, if your business isn’t data-intensive, AI might bring unnecessary complexity. But if your organization is already employing the full capability of your CRM system, capturing relevant customer data, then there is a lot to gain by integrating AI capabilities and making your system even smarter. 

Michael Vickers is executive director of Summit Learning Systems and the author of Dance of the Rainmaker: Creating Authentic Differentiation in a Competitive Marketplace. Reach him at michael@michaelvickers.com or visit www.michaelvickers.com.

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