For anyone who works in sales or marketing, it is difficult to imagine work life without customer relationship management systems (CRMs). In fact, it likely is difficult for you to imagine surviving without a modern CRM, complete with all the capabilities you rely on every day. However, CRMs are relatively recent technology — and they used to be far less versatile than they are today.
CRMs came out in the 1990s and required installing the software to a desktop computer. A major change came in the early 2000s with the emergence of cloud. This meant users were able to access their CRM with just a browser — there was no longer the need to install anything. Now, CRMs are on the brink of their third transformation: the inclusion of a chat interface.
To understand what this third wave means and why it is so important, we need to go back to the beginning and examine how CRMs have evolved.
Before CRMs, marketers had to collect and analyze data themselves. They would put the information they gathered through statistical modeling to improve communications according to the customer. Between the mid- and late-1980s, developers started releasing contact management software — the predecessor to CRMs. This software stored the contact information of customers but did little more.
The First CRMs
CRMs became possible due to the widespread adoption of personal computers, beginning in the early 1990s. Contact management software gained sales automation capabilities, which allowed for automation of basic tasks like inventory control and interaction tracking. Such products were known by a few different names, but the term CRM ultimately won out.
As the years progressed, CRMs became more complex. By the end of the decade, they were offering a greater variety of sales, marketing, and service functionalities. Some also started including intranet, extranet, and Internet collaboration. This proved to be crucial for the second transformation.
The bursting of the dot-com bubble killed off all but the most successful CRM vendors. Those that survived were the ones embracing Internet technologies. Most popular of all were the ones offering software as a service (SaaS) and cloud-based solutions, particularly those that were customizable or allowed users to manage more business elements. This became ever more critical as businesses shifted further into the online world.
The third wave is just happening now, bringing a chat interface to the center of CRMs. With chat, there is no need to open your browser and search for the right feature. Instead, you can carry out any CRM task in the one simple chat interface. The user makes a request using natural language and the query updates CRM. One such tool is Closer.bot.
Create Deals by Typing
Let’s use the example of a deal called ABCCorp with the email email@example.com.
You could: open your browser, click sales, click deals, click create a deal, type the deal name, click create, type the description, click save, go to your contacts tab, create a contact, type the email address firstname.lastname@example.org, click create contact, click on the contact, scroll down, find the deals tab, add the deal, type the deal name ABCCorp, and finally click done to associate the deal with the contact.
Alternatively, you could just type: create a deal ABCCorp email@example.com deal.
How does this work? - Closer.bot allows you to manage deals within Slack. You add Closer.bot to Slack workspace and by slash command integrate it with a CRM system.There is no need to open browser in order to update information manually.
Despite this being an easier way to update your CRM, most users will probably continue with the old method of manually entering the information. This means that early adopters who realize the full potential of the chat interface have a major advantage.
Search for Deals
You can also search for deals in the chat interface. Using the above example, you would type find ABCCorp — and the right deal would immediately appear.
Once you’ve found the deal, you can log an activity and update the ABCCorp deal by typing update ABCCorp deal new description. That’s it! No more waiting for the full features to load on the screen and learning to use the interfaces.
Set Up Notifications
You can ask Closer.bot to notify you when major deals are closed and set up other types of event-based notifications. Closer.bot can even sort your deals according to close date and filter out low-priority deals.
At the moment, Closer.bot works with Hubspot. In the near future, our plan is to empower every CRM with Closer.bot features, enabling people to spend a minimum amount of time on daily CRM maintenance.
Don't rely on an outdated way to work with your CRM. Try Closer.bot to take advantage of the third transformation of CRMs and start closing more deals.
Pro Tip: Get more out of your CRM by enriching your CRM data, including leads, contacts, accounts, and opportunities with accurate, real-time info. Enriching your data can provide your sales and marketing teams with actionable insights.
About the Author
Vlad Goloshuk is a serial entrepreneur with focus on B2B sales tech. He is the founder of Closer.bot (a slack bot designed to minimize sales reps time on CRM updates) and also a CEO at Brightestminds.io (a B2B lead generation agency).More Content by Vlad Goloshuk