CEO Insider

Why Your Company Could Be at a Major CRM Crossroads

For many organizations, it’s worth considering shelving that prepackaged CRM product in favor of a purpose-built solution.

For better and sometimes for worse, the pandemic has provided companies across the business landscape with a technology reality check, followed in many cases by a realization that the generic, one-size-fits-all software on which they had been depending not only is outdated, it is stifling their ability to compete.

What many companies have realized is that it takes more than rigid, off-the-shelf software to do business in a world that turns on immediacy, responsiveness and seamless digital experiences. Under the duress of pandemic-related disruption, they learned that technology which claims to solve every problem for everybody really is no solution at all. This proved particularly true for businesses and their customer relationship management (CRM) software. Over the past 18+ months, those that were relying on basic, standard-issue CRM systems saw their ability to cultivate and connect with customers suffer, while their competitors found ways to stay relevant and connected with theirs. In many cases, the difference came to down software. Companies using a CRM purpose-built for their type of business, whether it revolves around products, services or outcomes, found ways to keep their customers engaged and their pipelines full, while those relying on a generic, one-size-fits-all CRM struggled to keep up.

Here’s a closer look at how a purpose-built CRM solution can benefit a company, its business development/sales/marketing teams and ultimately, the customers/clients they serve: 

  1. People actually use the CRM and the tools embedded within it. In a research report issued by Unanet in Fall 2021, we found that firms in the architecture, engineering and construction industries we serve are challenged by both a lack of adoption of business development tools (50%) and siloed, disparate business development information (41%). Meanwhile, in a separate CRM study, Forrester reported that 57% of executives say they struggle to maintain good CX with the shift to remote work because their CRM systems were not well-integrated and accessible.
    A lack of mobile, real-time access to CRM tools and data is indeed a big reason people avoid using a CRM system. Overall efficiency and effectiveness suffer as a result.
    A mobile-enabled, purpose-built CRM can help overcome these challenges. People are more inclined to engage with and use a CRM system that meets them wherever they are working and wherever they are in their pursuits. Sales and BD teams gain real-time access to vital business information, from any location and device, so they can make better-informed decisions, respond to requests in the moment, nurture relationships and close deals, all of which tend to boost and sustain user adoption. 
  2. Seamless business pursuits. In the Forrester study, less than half of the business execs who responded said their CRM system supports the entire customer lifecycle, from discovery to engagement and retention. Nearly 80% said they believe a CRM should do so.
    Having a full 360° view of specific prospects and customers is particularly important for companies whose BD and sales teams spend much of their time in the field, as well as for those with multiple offices, for which knowledge-sharing between offices (about common clients, etc.) can be critical to winning business. With one-size-fits-all CRM products, this level of accessibility, information flow and knowledge-share is virtually non-existent, resulting in disjointed, often fruitless business pursuits.
  3. A superior customer experience from the CRM provider. By definition, purpose-built software is designed to help users fulfill specific purposes, with features and functionalities that often are directly shaped by input from users themselves. As part of your investment in a purpose-built CRM system, you should expect a provider that gives its customers plenty of opportunity to offer feedback and ideas, then actually acts on that input by investing in the continued improvement and refinement of its solution.
    This is all feeds into the elevated customer experience that should come with a purpose-built CRM — and that companies with generic, prepackaged software often miss out on. A CRM system should deliver value on an ongoing basis, and some of that value lies in the support, resources and partnership that a CRM provider offers. The expectation with purpose-built software is that the provider has people across their organization who know your industry and your business. That insider knowledge should manifest in a richer overall customer experience that includes robust, hands-on support, access to subject-matter experts, an on-demand library of education and training resources, and even, perhaps, a community where users convene to share ideas, best practices, etc. In short, a CRM provider should treat its customers like a true partner, not an anonymous consumer. These deeper relationships and resources should shorten the time-to-value on your CRM investment.
  4. Maximizing resources instead of wasting them. More than 30% of sales-related activities can be automated, according to the consulting firm McKinsey. A purpose-built CRM system should enable automations throughout the customer engagement process, enabling business development teams to engage with customers and prospects more efficiently and more effectively. Too often, however, they end up spending an inordinate amount of time and resources on manual processes, distracting them from the higher-value work of relationship-building and enriching the customer experience. Organizations with automation embedded in their sales processes “report increases in customer-facing time, higher customer satisfaction, efficiency improvements of 10 to 15 percent, and sales uplift potential of up to 10 percent,” McKinsey noted.
  5. A single source of truth. In the Forrester CRM study, less than one-third (32%) of respondents said their current CRM provides a complete single source of truth about their customers, and 90% believe having that single source of truth would be of value. A purpose-built CRM system should afford users access to a single, trusted source of data to gain a full, 360° view of customers, prospects, pursuits, the new business pipeline and more.  

Ultimately, a purpose-built CRM solution enables a company and its business development and sales teams to consistently deliver the kind of superior customer experiences that drive sales and revenue, but that might otherwise elude them with a prepackaged CRM product.


Written by Akshay Mahajan.

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Akshay Mahajan
Akshay Mahajan is General Manager of CRM for Unanet, which provides project-based digital ERP and CRM solutions for architecture, engineering and construction firms, and government contractors. He brings more than 20 years of product leadership experience. Before arriving at Unanet, Akshay served as the Vice President of Product Management at EMS Software, where he created the organization’s product roadmap and helped lead a successful acquisition process.


Akshay Mahajan is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow him on LinkedIn.