Freshworks‑Forrester Report: Hit Refresh on your CRM

If you’re new to the world of sales CRM, you might probably find it a little daunting to be able to grasp what direction this rather hot software segment is going in. There are a dime a dozen different vendors, confusing terminology, and much talk about technologies like AI and ML, so much so that even if you’re a practitioner who’s familiar with CRM software and follows all the latest trends, it’s hard to sum up what’s happening and what should be paid attention to.

To demystify this, we worked with Forrester and surveyed over 300 SMB/midmarket CRM buyers and users across the UK, US, and DE across verticals such as technology, retail, travel, hospitality, education, and nonprofits to publish a report on the state of the SaaS CRM industry. With this report, we aim to show you helpful numbers regarding market growth and adoption rates, current market leaders, challenges CRM buyers and users are facing, and CRM trends.

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Some of the highlights of this report include:

69% of respondents are looking to replace their current CRM software.

CRMs have been in the market for over two decades now. What started as a lightweight, efficient system to aid a salesperson do their job better, has turned into a Frankenstein of sorts. Commonly available CRM software today is complicated, unnecessarily bloated and confusing for the end user.

Over half the CRM buyers we surveyed are planning to replace their CRM within the next two years, and 28% of them are already on the hunt for a new solution or are piloting one today.

Top challenges seen by CRM buyers include challenges with cost and setup.

Three of the top 5 challenges CRM buyers listed have to do with the total cost of their current solution, including both upfront and incremental and/or hidden costs of ownership. 31% of CRM buyers surveyed see their CRM solutions as being expensive. Licensing costs are high, and CRM buyers are forced into buying higher plans for specific feature requirements. 27% of CRM buyers also feel that these systems are not easily customizable and that they would need to rely on developers for configuration and customization.

The result: Current CRM solutions fail to deliver the value in terms of dollars and cents as anticipated by the business.

User challenges such as training and user adoption are not top concerns today, but the report indicates this is an emerging trend as onboarding and quick time-to-value become increasingly important.

CRM users are most frustrated by their complicated, clunky CRM software.

CRM buyers and users don’t see eye-to-eye regarding CRM effectiveness. Unlike CRM buyers (i.e., gatekeepers) who view deriving value out their investment on their CRM solution as the top challenge, CRM users (i.e., salespeople) on the other hand are more focused on day-to-day problems that make it difficult for them to do their jobs. CRM users most often struggle with solutions that are difficult to learn and use.

In an increasingly mobile-first world where there is an app for anything and everything, CRM users, particularly field agents are frustrated that they cannot use their CRM on their mobile devices. CRM users also feel the need to constantly juggle between their CRM and a host of other tools to successfully surface the right data to close. While this not only acts as a process disruption and adds to the time complexity, it significantly adds to the overall running cost of the business.  They also are challenged by a lack of automation with simple or routine tasks and because of these difficulties, CRM users don’t use CRM in the way they should thereby limiting the value of the solution and providing a poor end-customer experience.

Riding the next wave of SaaS CRM: A CRM solution that combines buyer and user needs to better serve customers.

Customers today are more demanding than ever before and so is the competition. In such a scenario, superior customer experience is table-stakes. CRM is the foundational technology that can be used to deliver these customer experiences.

Here’s what CRM users really want from their SaaS CRM. They want, in order:

  • A system that makes them work smarter.
  • Only one solution, not multiple apps.
  • Easy integration with other systems.
  • Easy training.
  • Better automation of routine tasks.

In other words, a CRM which actually helps salespeople (think Sherlock and Watson) do their jobs better and more efficiently, takes the drudgery out of manual data entry, and eases the pain and costs associated with juggling multiple tools.

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