Wednesday, February 13, 2008

CRM Delivered Via Software-as-a-Service Solutions

HA! We've come across yet another direct marketing term and acronym -- SaaS (AKA Software-as-a-Service). What this term describes is the increased ability for companies to deliver CRM to their global workforce via flexible software that can be utilized by large numbers of users in different places. As companies expand and their product/service offerings are extended, this becomes increasingly important for both sales, marketing and -- most importantly -- customer satisfaction.

A recent press release reports on a survey conducted by the Aberdeen Group (a Harte-Hanks company). It reports that "
the top pressure causing all organizations to focus resources on SaaS as a CRM delivery method is the need to provide access to account information anywhere to an increasingly mobile and global workforce." The survey reported that "Best-in-Class companies indicated that they currently blend organizational capabilities, such as the ability to provide remote access to employees (95%) and CRM security processes (57%), with technology deployment to positively affect the productivity of sales reps, while reducing the IT constraints that would accompany an on-premise solution.

There have been some excellent results reported when SaaS is utilized in these "Best-In-Class" companies. The press release reports that these companies "have reduced Time-to-Close 30% more than Laggards" (those not currently using this approach). An additional benefit is also reported: "71% of Best-in-Class companies integrate lead management technology with a CRM solution to provide increased visibility into the sales pipeline."

From our perspective, SaaS is enabling real Customer Relationship Management. This occurs when the firm's stakeholders (Leadership, IT, Marketing, and Sales) are all able to successfully manage the customer relationship from wherever they happen to be. This is an efficient way for sales to input all of the intelligence that they glean from their customer interactions -- and a great way for Leadership to manage to corporate revenue objectives.

You can obtain a full copy of this report from the Aberdeen Group. And, congratulations to them for putting this research together. Over time, it seems as though when companies invested in CRM systems, many have been stymied as to how to actually get the various divisions to accurately utilize the technology. We have seen situations where -- after a huge investment -- it is extremely difficult to learn how to use CRM tools, and that there is sometimes very little trust in the data that comes out of them. Furthermore, it takes a further investment of both time and money to get everyone on the same page.

Have any of you had any success stories at your companies using SaaS? We'd love to hear them!

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