CRM Software Buyer Report – 2013

Over the years, we’ve spoken to thousands of prospective CRM software buyers, providing us unparalleled insight into their motivations for investing in new CRM technology. Recently, we analyzed 5,279 of these interactions and uncovered the following top CRM software buyer trends.

Key Findings

  1. While half of the organizations in our sample didn’t have a preference when it came to the deployment model, for those who did, 96 percent wanted a Cloud-based system.
  2. A vast majority of prospective buyers wanted to evaluate best-of-breed solutions (e.g. marketing automation, sales force automation) over an integrated suite.
  3. Sales force automation was the top-requested CRM application among both best-of-breed buyers and those wanting an integrated suite.

“In their early days, CRM systems were really good at creating operational efficiencies. They still do this today, but now it’s also about how effective they can make each interaction in terms of actually growing revenue (not just cutting costs).”

Paul Greenberg

Most Buyers Want Cloud-Based, Best-of-Breed Solutions

The vast majority of the prospective CRM software buyers we spoke to were interested in evaluating a single, best-of-breed solution (e.g. sales force automation or marketing automation). In fact, only 9 percent of organizations said they wanted an integrated suite, or even multiple applications.

A significantly larger percent of buyers also expressed interest in a Cloud-based solution over on-premise. Although half of the people we sampled had not yet made a decision on the deployment model, among those who had, only 2 percent were seeking an on-premise system.

Buyers' Integration Requirements
Top-Evaluated Deployment Model Among Buyers

Sales Force Automation Tops List of Desired Applications

Among both integrated suite and best-of-breed buyers, sales force automation was the No. 1 most-requested CRM application. This application category represented 76 percent of all companies evaluating best-of-breed solutions and nearly 75 percent of those looking into integrated suites.

Conversely, field service software was the second most popular application among best-of-breed buyers (representing about 8 percent of the sample), while it was low on the list of priorities for those wanting an integrated suite. Marketing automation was popular among both types of buyers.

Best-of-Breed Buyers' Top-Requested Applications
Integrated Suite Buyers' Top-Requested Applications

Contact Management Tops List of Most-Desired Features

When asked about which features they wanted most in their new CRM system, prospective buyers mentioned contact management, note-taking and reporting and analytics most. In fact, nearly 90 percent requested at least one of those features. Next to those features, many organizations also asked that the solution integrate with other critical systems, such as email or another type of software.

Top-Requested CRM Software Features

Most Are Evaluating CRM Software for the First Time

Sixty-eight percent of the buyers we sampled were either using non-industry-specific software (e.g. Microsoft Office) or manual methods, such as spreadsheets and paper notes, to manage their customer relationships.

In other words, it was the first time they were evaluating an off-the-shelf CRM system. Of those who were using an existing CRM system, a vast majority (26 percent) were using a commercial CRM solution as opposed to a proprietary solution.

Buyers’ Existing CRM Systems


Buyers Want System to Increase Efficiency and Organization

Regardless of whether the organization was evaluating CRM software for the first time or replacing an existing program, a vast majority of those we spoke to were evaluating software because they wanted to increase efficiency.

“We need an automated and centralized system to allow our marketing team to be more productive,” one person told us, for example. Or, “We want to manage the sales process better and improve our ability to nurture leads,” another said.

Top Reasons for Replacing Existing CRM System
Top Reasons for Replacing Another Type of Software
Top Reasons for Purchasing CRM Software for the First Time

Integrated Suite Buyers Skew Much Larger than Best-of-Breed

Both in terms of annual revenue and number of employees, buyers of integrated suites tended to be much larger than buyers of best-of-breed solutions. Half of best-of-breed buyers we spoke to were earning less than $1 million per year, while more than 60 percent had 20 or fewer employees. Integrated suite buyers, on the other hand, averaged closer to $5 million in revenue and 21 or more employees.

Number of Employees in Buyers' Companies
Annual Revenue of Software Buyers' Companies

The detailed methodology for this report can be found here.

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