In spite of much marketing and media attention, a new survey by Avidian Technologies reveals that most small/midsized businesses (SMBs) are unfamiliar with the terms Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Software as a Service (SaaS (News - Alert)). Also, those who do know about CRM connect it to products that only apply CRM in indirect ways.
70 percent of SMBs surveyed reported that they did not know what CRM meant and only 47 percent were even sure they had heard of it. Familiarity with SaaS was even lower, with 74 percent reporting that they knew about the term.
Yet when SMBs know about CRM their reaction is positive and proactive and the firms that have deployed these solutions have experienced success. Of those involved with CRM, 32 percent were in the early discussion or product selection stage of implementing a CRM solution. Most of the respondents said they are looking for CRM to improve customer service (46 percent), increase efficiency when working with customers (44 percent), and increase productivity (45 percent).
Also there is strong interest in SaaS delivery of CRM solutions expressed as via the Internet.
Companies who have implemented CRM solutions have seen the results exceed their expectations:
* Increased efficiency working with customers: 64 percent versus 52 percent expected
* Increasing sales: 28 percent versus 20 percent expected
* Improving business insight: 36 percent versus 28 percent expected
* Increasing visibility into the sales pipeline: 40 percent versus 32 percent expected
The most common products being considered for CRM are Microsoft (News
) Outlook and QuickBooks (31 percent and 28 percent, respectively), which are also the products most familiar to respondents (67 percent and 47 percent, respectively). The survey also found that most respondents (67 percent) want CRM that runs inside of Outlook, and 62 percent said they want CRM data stored in Outlook.
In addition, 69 percent want a solution that runs over the Internet (i.e. SaaS/hosted), yet 57 percent want a solution that is also available offline.
When buying CRM solutions 82 percent of respondents reported that the most important feature was ease of use, followed closely by not requiring significant support (79 percent), and by the ability to customize an existing sales routine (74 percent). In short, says Avidian, SMBs are looking for simplicity and compatibility.
“This research confirms what we are seeing in the field,” says James Wong, Avidian's CEO. “While some companies may be unfamiliar with the term ‘CRM’ ultimately they want the services this kind of technology provides. This illustrates that CRM is a growing industry with viable growth potential in the SMB market. They are also looking for a tool that is simple and effective, two areas in which Avidian far excels beyond other CRM offerings.”
Brendan B. Read is TMCnet’s Senior Contributing Editor. To read more of Brendan’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi