CRM, Sales Acceleration & All That Kind of Thing


CRM, Sales Acceleration & All That Kind of Thing

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  December 29, 2015

Is CRM done for or is it a multibillion-dollar business that continues to grow and expand? It depends upon with whom you’re talking to.

“CRM is dead,” said SAP’s (News - Alert) Chief Digital Officer Jonathan Becher in a recent interview with Dun & Bradstreet. “Think engagement. We all know the traditional funnel metaphor no longer makes sense. A funnel has a defined beginning and end, but there should be no beginning or end to a customer’s journey and relationship with your company.”

The second part sounds about right, not so sure about the first bit as, according to Gartner, worldwide sales of CRM software exceeded $23 billion in 2014, a 13 percent increase over the previous year.

It should come as no surprise that led the way with an 18 percent increase to sales of $4.3 billion. It was followed – wait for it – by SAP at $2.8 billion. Oracle came in third with $2.1 billion in sales. The top 10 vendors owned 60 percent of CRM marketshare last year North America, the largest market for CRM systems with more than half of sales. And 47 percent of total CRM software revenue last year was for software-as-a-service offerings.

But although the above numbers prove that reports of CRM’s death have been greatly exaggerated, many people in the industry seem to agree that it doesn’t always meet its promise and that there’s lot of room for improvement.

Indeed, Gartner analyst Michael Maoz in an October posting referred to CRM as a corporate Venus Flytrap. About 90 percent of CRM strategies, he suggested, do the following: “Seduce the prospect with marketing promises, get them landed as a paying customer, trap them as best you can, and then extract all of the vital currency from the relationship.” However, he goes on to write, the CRM of the future will arm the enterprise “with real-time analytics that can calculate the needs and expectations of the customer, and match that to the potential benefit (profit and growth) that will ensue from an engagement.”

David Schmaier, CEO and founder of Vlocity, seems to agree. There were more talks about data and analytics this year than on any other topic, he said, but the real value sales is chasing is something even more powerful: knowledge and intelligence. CRM is evolving from a sales funnel to a solution with a larger emphasis on the customer journey. That, he said, involves using data and analytics to make interacting with users smarter and more personal. In 2016, he suggested, the industry will begin using CRM software as way to automatically interpret information and naturally guide people to do smarter things.

Clint Oram, co-founder and CTO at SugarCRM, added that tools will be embedded into CRM to provide sales, marketing, and support professionals with customer preferences and history, helping them engage throughout the customer journey.

“CRM is moving toward systems of engagement that use predictive analytics to cut through the big data noise to uncover actionable customer insights,” Oram said.

Here is a sampling of what some of the CRM solution providers, and others in the CRM, sales automation, or related disciplines, offer today.


AffinityLive updates itself every time someone in a company using it interacts with a client, saving time and giving that company confidence it knows what's going on. It can intelligently drive business processes, send alerts when things are going off track, and forecast the future. While most CRMs are built to sell widgets, selling services requires a more consultative, relationship approach. AffinityLive is built for these kinds of sales, making it easy to manage a high-value relationship, not an order form. AffinityLive, into which CRMs connect seamlessly, allows businesses to build on their sales efforts and convert quotes into projects, tracking delivery with ease.


Based in Fremont, Calif., Apptivo is a cloud-based suite of more than 40 integrated business applications covering CRM, financials, project management, and supply chain. Apptivo’s integrated suite of business flexible and highly customizable apps are used daily by hundreds of thousands of businesses in 194 countries.

Aspect Software

Aspect has worked with clients across all business segments to implement Microsoft Dynamics CRM since the first release of the product in 2003. Aspect Enterprise CRM and xRM services are offered in six functional categories including creating a master profile record for each key relationship, integrating with communication tools, user interfaces, mobile enablement, process automation, web self service, and xRM rapid application development.

Atento S.A.

Atento is the largest provider of customer relationship management and business process outsourcing services in Latin America, and among the top three providers globally, based on revenues. Atento is also a leading provider for U.S.-based companies nearshoring CRM/BPO services to Latin America. Since 1999, the company has developed its business model in 14 countries where it employs more than 160,000 people. Atento has more than 400 clients to whom it offers a wide range of CRM BPO services across multiple channels. Atento's clients are mostly leading multinational corporations in sectors such as telecommunications, banking and financial services, media and technology, health, retail and public administrations, among others.

Brainshark (News - Alert)

Brainshark analytics provide a deeper understanding of how knowledge and behavior affect sales outcomes. Managers can use this solution to monitor opportunities in to gain insight into how sales content is used, what resonates with buyers, and more. A core feature of the Sales Accelerator, Brainshark analytics help sales organizations make smarter decisions in such key areas as tying content to revenue, onboarding and training, and sales coaching.


The ClearSlide platform gives sales and marketing leaders insight into the real-time activity of their teams and provides deep analytics about the types of content that ultimately is most impactful with customers. For sales professionals, ClearSlide allows for easy communication with customers and prospects, whether online or in-person, using ClearSlide's web-based or mobile applications.


Clutch empowers premier, customer-focused brands to identify, understand, and motivate their most valuable customers. Its platform allows marketers to centralize and synthesize their cross-channel customer data from in-store point-of-sale systems, ecommerce platforms, social accounts, email lists and mobile apps. This data is analyzed in real time to develop sophisticated customer segments and profiles. The analysis can be used to strategically design integrated marketing engagements and develop personalized, automated campaigns deployed across online, in-store, mobile, social, email and direct mail channels. More than 750 brands use the solution from Clutch.


Datahug combines automatic data capture, predictive sales analysis, and machine-learning sales guidance to accelerate sales. The company’s solution removes reliance on manual CRM data entry, increases the effectiveness of sales teams, and produces real-time, objective sales forecasts. It measures customer interaction data, which the company says is the most important and reliable factor in evaluating a deal. Sales organizations that use Datahug gain access to an always updated CRM and instant deal scores that are based on objective data. Datahug works seamlessly with Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and SugarCRM. Founded in 2010, Datahug is based in Dublin and New York and is funded by, London-based VC firm DFJ Esprit, and Silicon Valley angel Ron Conway. 


DialogTech’s Voice360 platform combines voice-based marketing automation and inside sales acceleration technologies to give businesses the power to analyze, control, and personalize in real time the calls that occur throughout the customer journey. For enterprise and agency marketers, DialogTech provides call attribution and automation technology to not only prove and improve how calls are generated across marketing channels, but qualify and route callers in real time to the agent best suited to close the sale. The Voice360 platform also empowers sales and support agents to work in-office or remotely as one cohesive team, fielding calls on any device or phone system, with all activity monitored by management and every conversation recorded to measure and improve performance.

Dun & Bradstreet

D&B360 provides relevant, complete insight and sales tools so sales and marketing teams can get more from the CRM and drive real results. 


This solution can be employed to track opportunities, prepare quotations, record orders and shipments, prepare commissions, apply pricing and discounts, and record warranty claims. It can help manage material requests, purchase orders, inventory tracking, and more. From a manufacturing standpoint it can handle production planning, bill of materials, costing, sub-contracting, and outsourcing. It can be used to bill customers, record supplier invoices, manage payments, manage currencies, budgeting, expense claims, payroll, accounting and reporting.


FirstRain interprets unstructured business information derived from the global and social web and internal company data to build end user analytics that enable business professionals to make better decisions, get closer to customers, drive revenue growth, and outwit the competition. FirstRain analytics are used by Fortune 1000 enterprises around the world and are integrated into leading platforms like Salesforce, SAVO, Oracle, Microsoft SharePoint and Dynamics, and Dun & Bradstreet.


Gainsight helps businesses grow faster by reducing churn, increasing upsell, and driving customer advocacy. Gainsight’s product helps businesses touch customers effectively, track customer health consistently, and transform the way their company orients around the customer. Gainsight provides a full view of customers and drives retention across customer success, sales, marketing, and executive and product management. Leading companies like Adobe, Box, DocuSign, HP, Marketo, Nutanix and Workday use Gainsight. And in September Gainsight announced the new products Success Plans and Relationships. With Gainsight Success Plans companies can document the business outcomes that customers look to achieve with their products or services within Gainsight, and create a system of record for monitoring progress toward plan achievement. Relationships enables organizations to manage the success of each sale, each product, and each project. 

HCL Technologies (News - Alert)

HCL Technologies is a leading global IT services company working with clients in areas that impact and redefine the core of their businesses. The company in October acquired Minneapolis-based PowerObjects, a North American provider of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The move aims to bolster HCL’s global applications business, which offers transformational programs and complex application management. PowerObjects is a professional services firm completely focused on providing service, support, education and add-ons for Microsoft Dynamics CRM.


Helpshift is a B2C CRM solution for mobile applications. It offers an easy-to-manage suite of customer care tools that allows enterprise and mobile app companies to experience higher customer engagement, higher retention, faster feedback and better reviews. The company’s solution features an agent dashboard, SDK, and web support.

IBM (News - Alert)

Sugar CRM is an IBM global alliance business partner that delivers an open source CRM solution. IBM also offers consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics CRM. (News - Alert)

This company offers a sales acceleration platform built on Neuralytics, a predictive and prescriptive self-learning engine that drives revenue growth by delivering an optimized experience for both salesperson and buyer. The platform promises to fuel sales rep performance and provide buyer personalization. enterprise customers include ADP,  Groupon, Microsoft, and Zenefits.


InsideView for Sales is InsideView’s flagship market intelligence product for sales professionals. It is used by more than 500,000 people across more than 20,000 customers worldwide and continues to be ranked as a market leader by G2 Crowd. The product’s new adaptive, task-oriented user experience makes it even easier for Salesforce users to capitalize on InsideView’s market intelligence. The new InsideView Sales experience brings data to life with better data visualization and icon-based, sidebar navigation consistent with the Salesforce Lightning experience, the significant redesign of Salesforce’s CRM product.


Introhive eliminates the need for data entry and contact scrubbing, automatically syncing activities and contacts. It provides actionable insights into pertinent relationships, uncovering communication patterns, account health, and more. Data can integrate into existing reports to stay on top of key accounts. The API allows for customization. And the Introhive solution is available in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Oracle CRM, and Salesforce.


This company says it drives winning messaging in the sales funnel and beyond to accelerate sales.


Helsinki-based sales app startup LIID says it is revolutionizing how sales organizations uses CRM by doing away with tedious data entry and providing a virtual sales assistant instead. The company says it can support any cloud-based CRM within two weeks.  Liid is available for free to companies using Microsoft Dynamics CRM or Salesforce. Salespeople can download the iOS or Android app and set up the connection to their CRM themselves.


Mblox is an application to person mobile messaging provider. It has an international presence and specializes in the unique demands of large-scale mobile messaging programs.


Microsoft Dynamics business solutions address, CRM, ERP, supply chain management, and more. Office is often one of the most popular and used products, and Dynamics CRM offers seamless integration. This tool also provides easy integration with the SharePoint collaborative solution. The monitoring of marketing campaigns is another benefit of CRM, and Dynamics offers effective campaign management and measurement of essential analytics that will really make a positive difference to marketing focus. Dynamics CRM has an app marketplace with apps and services created by reputable partners.

Navatar Partners

Navatar Group is a global partner and value-added reseller. Navatar is the industry cloud provider of CRM and content management for financial services firms. Navatar's off-the-shelf financial cloud products for asset management, wealth management, investment banking, and capital markets are used by more than 500 firms, collectively managing hundreds of billions in assets, including global firms such as PNCJefferies & CoCowen Group and Evercore Partners. With customers spread over 30 countries, Navatar is a rapidly growing firm, thanks to a close partnership with cloud industry leader


Oracle offers a complete and integrated CRM solution that breaks down silos to deliver a seamless customer experience across marketingsalescommerceservicesocial; and configure, price, and quote (CPQ). Whether deployed modularly to tackle specific business challenges or deployed as a comprehensive solution, Oracle's CRM approach enables companies to provide cross-channel, consistent customer experiences using pre-built business processes that span silos; integrate CRM with enterprise applications, providing connections throughout the buyer's journey and making operations more efficient; and leverage industry-specific best practices for competitive advantage and lower TCO.


Pegasystems develops strategic applications for marketing, sales, service, and operations. Powered by the Pega 7 platform, Pega’s applications streamline critical business operations, connect enterprises to their customers seamlessly in real time across channels, and adapt to meet rapidly changing requirements. Pega’s scalable, dynamic CRM offerings allow businesses to understand customers contextually and take action in a more intuitive and personalized way. Pega’s predictive analytics and decisioning capabilities enable businesses to anticipate customer needs in real time and take the next best action based on customer data and business context. This allows marketing, sales and service reps to quickly turn data into insights to deliver the right message on the right channel, at the right time. Pega also connects front and back office systems for a holistic customer view across all stages of the customer journey.


Salesforce is the sixth largest software company and the fastest growing top 10 software company in the world today. Over the last 16 years, Salesforce has expanded and redefined CRM, bringing social, mobile, data science and IoT technologies to its trusted cloud platform, enabling companies to grow sales faster, deliver customer service everywhere, create 1:1 customer journeys, engage with customers in interactive communities, deliver analytics for every business user and build modern mobile apps fast.


SAP hybris solutions, powered by SAP HANA, enable the digital transformation of the front office and go beyond customer relationship management by integrating marketing, commerce, sales, and customer service. It brings these data and process silos together, so companies can deliver omnichannel customer experience.


Sugar UX offers a completely transformed, individualized CRM user experience that is immersive, engaging, and intuitive. Sugar UX fuses the straightforward simplicity, mobility, and social aspects of a consumer app with the business process optimization of conventional CRM. With Sugar PurePrice companies get a clear and simple price – with no hidden fees or forced upgrades.


TeamSupport’s solution includes a comprehensive customer database which allows agents to view all tickets and support requests from the same company in one place, allowing them to better identify trends and issues on a company-by-company basis. Customer support reps have the ability to search by company and by contact. They can see which tickets are open or closed along with those that have notes or files requiring follow-up. TeamSupport’s help desk software provides a unified system where help desk agents can see every request and issue that a client has made. It integrates with popular CRM systems like SalesForce and Oracle Fusion. And it lets organizations assess which customers need the most attention in terms of support.


VanillaSoft offers a lead management software and CRM solution for phone-centric selling. VanillaSoft enables thousands of individuals and sales teams to do more than store their data and report on it like traditional CRM. VanillaSoft customers drive productivity by deploying a feature set that includes next-best-lead routing, progressive dialing, on-board intelligent messaging, integrated email, real-time lead distribution, live dashboard, and digital call recording. With VanillaSoft, typical users realize a productivity increase of 30 percent to 100 percent over traditional CRM, creating an easy to justify ROI. VanillaSoft dials over existing phone systems or VoIP, meaning no new or high fees for telecom.


The vCita LiveSite platform redefines small business by driving more opportunities from the web, mobile, email, and social. Businesses can extend their brand, drive more clients to engage, and deliver amazing service with the LiveSite portal. The self-service portal offers messaging, online scheduling, payments, invoicing and file sharing anytime, on any device. vCita increases the effectiveness of any web presence, strengthens customer relationships, and provides a personalized experience clients have come to expect. 


Velocity Customer Relationship Management platform was designed with simplicity in mind. Many CRM platforms are pricey, complicated, and so overwhelming to the point that they are not useable. This is where Velocity comes into play. The real-time analytics enables users to see what their clients are doing. It tracks every open or click on an email. It knows if they are using a smartphone, iPad, PC or Mac. The software also displays what operating system is being used. Velocity’s CRM platform is available to resellers for free. Non-resellers only pay an implementation fee.

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere
Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox. [Free eNews Subscription]
blog comments powered by Disqus