CRM systems are at the core of any data-driven sales operation. With innovations in sales tech comes more data, and the need to leverage it effectively.
In this article, we’ll outline the best CRM software options for B2B sales.
How New Industry Norms Impact Sales The B2B sales landscape is currently undergoing a substantial transformation. The worldwide pandemic and abrupt structural shifts have served as a catalyst for profound industry-wide transformations in how we conduct business. Digital-first approaches to innovation have fundamentally changed business models and remote-first companies have ushered in a new way of work. The digital paradigm shift has been set in motion.
When it comes to how sales organizations engage and connect with prospective buyers (and vice versa),
digital selling is now the go-to route for sales teams. Today’s increasingly autonomous, younger generation of B2B and SaaS decision-makers have become increasingly accustomed to a completely digitalized sales process.
According to McKinsey, two-thirds say they prefer the “
digital self-serve” model and remote interactions over analog sales processes. Gartner’s Future of Sales Report further states that tomorrow’s B2B sales will not only involve sales strategies adapted to facilitate greater customer orientation but also more process automation.
What does this widespread shift towards
remote selling and fully digitalized sales processes mean for sellers? First, investments in new sales technologies yield significantly greater amounts of data. More online activity also translates to more trackable data across online channels.
Fueled by recent innovations in sales tech such as automated CRM data entry, sales reps now have a wealth of valuable data at their fingertips. Needed now are the skills and a solid command of new tools and technologies in order to effectively (and profitably) leverage this valuable resource.
CRM Software: The Foundation of Your Business Powerful CRM systems and stellar data quality are the first steps to closing more deals in B2B and SaaS sales. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain/Unsplash - Brett Jordan) Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a technology for managing all potential and existing relationships and interactions with clients. CRM systems (such as Salesforce, Pipedrive or Hubspot) house all contact and sales data in one neat and easy-to-manage place. This is where sales reps typically record, manage and strategically analyze key information on interactions with potential customers.
Current CRM solutions possess the capability to manage client relationships across the entire customer lifecycle, spanning all process stages. Sales teams which make effective use of CRM capabilities can
close more deals by using customer journey data. CRM Software: Market Value and Impact
The essential role CRMs play is also reflected in the market. Since 2020, CRM software has had the largest share of the overall software market. According to the Hubspot Research Global Sales Enablement Survey, most heads of sales list the CRM as one of the most important tools for remote selling.
While CRMs are among the most important tools in a sales rep’s toolbox, how these tools are used varies. According to Dealcode’s own
Sales Reps’ Productivity Survey, not all sales reps admit to using CRMs to their full potential, such as in automating sales processes, for example. Utilizing CRMs in this manner provides sales reps a clear advantage, according to Hubspot.
If CRM software is optimally utilized and properly maintained, sales teams always have a 360° view of their potential customers.
Best CRM Software Options for B2B Sales B2B sales leaders need to be sure their chosen CRM software is the best for their company, industry and goals. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain/Unsplash - Edge2Edge Media)
B2B deals tend to be larger and more complex than others and can involve multiple
decision-makers. Sales cycles can also span weeks to months with a greater amount of communication across multiple channels. CRMs fit for the B2B stage should possess the right features and adequate capabilities to fulfill your company’s needs.
Greater deal complexity often calls for greater visibility. Sales reps need to be able to effectively track, manage and analyze a variety of different data from various sources. Additional characteristics of the best B2B CRM software options are
scalability and accessibility. Larger-scale solution providers tend to offer more opportunities for automation and integration than other tools. These also offer flexibility through cloud-based access and regular updates for minimal maintenance and a better user experience.
Here are some of the best CRM software options for B2B companies:
Founded in 1999 as a software as a service (SaaS) company, Salesforce is a household name in CRM solutions and a global leader in the realm of B2B CRMs. 150,000 customers strong, Salesforce is often regarded as the world’s best CRM software option for Business-to-Business companies.
Salesforce has a large product portfolio covering all business processes, geared towards mid-sized to large operations. However, Salesforce is also popular among smaller businesses which anticipate growth. At the CRM core is the Salesforce Sales Cloud, which covers the basic marketing, sales and customer support modules and beyond. Packed with highly customizable features, the intuitive interface provides both ease in user experience for beginners and perks for established users.
Salesforce also offers a mobile app enabling access to all account and contact data as well as collaboration with your team to close deals, service customers, and deliver personalized marketing.
In June of 2021, Salesforce debuted Einstein Relationship Insights, a new AI-powered research agent. This artificial intelligence tool can help you identify and build new business connections, learning from personal behaviors and interests.
Hubspot is another established player in the CRM space offering solutions covering sales, marketing, customer service and content management. Founded in 2006, Hubspot currently serves 86,000 customers across 120 countries.
Hubspot CRM offers a highly functional free plan covering all the basics. Hubspot provides one of the best CRM software options for small businesses looking for quality reporting tools and performance insights. It is also particularly well suited for individuals, small teams and startups.
Beyond the core CRM into the paid solution, users can benefit from HubSpot’s Marketing, Sales, and Service Hubs as well as the Hubspot App Marketplace featuring over 500 integrations. Marketing allows you to generate pop-up forms, chatbots, and ad retargeting, as well as automate and track email campaigns. Premium sales features include deal assignment automation, customizable reports, and intelligent lead scoring.
Pipedrive is a sales CRM solution provider founded in 2010 in Estonia and is currently used by 95,000 companies across the world. Their CRM system was designed with the goal of enabling better sales process visualization, created around activity-based and visual pipelines. In 2019, Pipedrive made it onto the FT 1000 list, a list of Europe’s fastest-growing companies. Major investment granted Pipedrive unicorn status in late 2020.
All CRMs capture, store and manage essential lead and sales data, but Pipedrive's one-of-kind visual sales pipeline offers a complete overview of all deals.
The CRM also possesses an integrated artificial intelligence tool. This feature analyzes past performance and recommends ways to improve sales activities and outcomes.
Common CRM Challenges Even the best CRM software can hold you back at times. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain/Unsplash - Elisa Ventur)
CRM software is at the heart of every data-supported B2B sales operation. However essential to rep’s daily sales routines, no CRM is perfect. In a
survey of German B2B sales teams, results suggested many sales reps are overwhelmed by their most important tool. Here are some of the primary challenges of current CRM technologies cited in the survey: Lack of clear and concise data visualization: All survey respondents say they are used to unmanageable data visualization. Too much information and KPIs overwhelm sales reps, most of whom only want to see the data that is most important to them and their business. Difficulty prioritizing and tracking deals: Due to the sheer scope of sales data presented in the CRM, sales reps often have difficulty determining which activities make the most sense to focus on next. Tedious manual data entry: Many sales employees view the manually entering data into CRMs is seen as an unwelcome time-consuming task. Customer preferences are difficult to predict: 70% of respondents cited a lack of key customer information as a challenge. Guidance capabilities are limited: Sales teams have yet to find automated guidance on winning formulas for individual sales cycles in CRMs like Hubspot or Pipedrive.
Many of the best CRM software options are beginning to address these issues, but there is still a lot of catching up to do. One way your business can keep up is through intelligent integration of new sales tech, such as artificial intelligence solutions.
Best CRM Software Integrations: Artificial Intelligence Solutions
There's vast potential in sales analytics tools and tech backed by artificial intelligence. AI is not only here, but it’s getting smarter.
Artificial intelligence capabilities and machine learning development have come a long way in a relatively short period of time.
According to Gartner's Future of Sales Report,
artificial intelligence will replace the separation of sales processes, applications, data and their analysis in B2B sales in less than five years. Combined, you have automated and optimized guided selling. So, what is AI Guided Selling and how does it optimize sales? AI Guided Selling Software
According to Gartner,
75% of B2B organizations are projected to implement AI Guided Selling solutions into their existing sales operations within the next three years. Active interest in AI and machine learning (ML) tech investment is primarily rooted in mounting pressure to leverage massive amounts of data, most of which goes underutilized.
Designed for the modern sales team, AI Guided Selling Software helps sales reps remain agile and focused on what matters most in the sales process. Sales reps benefit from better work-time productivity and utilization of the software’s customized recommendations derived from CRM data. The result? Sales guidance helps reps
close more deals faster.
The Gartner 2021 CSO Priorities Pulse Survey states that
88% of CSOs have considered or have already taken the leap towards investing in AI analytics tools and technologies. Is your organization among them? AI Guided Selling for Hubspot analyzes your CRM and identifies success patterns within your sales process. The software then provides your team with data-driven recommendations for immediate action to increase your sales. Are you ready for AI Guided Selling and the data-driven sales of tomorrow?
If you would like to learn more about the possibilities of AI-optimized B2B sales, our free eBook provides a summary of how your team can remain a decisive step ahead of the competition in the direction of high-tech, “future-proof” data-driven B2B sales.
Download the eBook as a PDF.