Indian SME Sector Comes of Age – Bets Big on CRM

by September 21, 2016 0 comments

By Ms. Garima Rai, Head of Marketing – India and APAC at InsideView

New generation IT delivery models like Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS) came just in time to make technology affordable for smaller businesses which were otherwise limited by resource constraints.

CRM has been around for a while now, but although it got immediate traction from larger enterprises, its adoption rate within the SME sector had been comparatively very slow. Nonetheless, with more and more CRM vendors focusing their energies on making it affordable for SMEs, introducing on-demand, web-based CRM applications, it is rapidly becoming a key element of every SME’s digital strategy.

There is no denying that economic growth across countries is largely dependent on the success of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Particularly in India, the SME sector has been a key driver for industrial growth and a major source of employment generation at low capital costs. In the past couple of years, the Indian SME sector has undergone a major shift from manufacturing simple goods to more innovative and technologically advanced products like electronic devices, software, medical equipment etc. At the same time globalization opened the doors to international markets for these businesses, allowing them to fully leverage the cost advantage that they had over competitors based in other parts of the world.

Digital technologies played a pivotal role in making this shift happen. Further, new generation IT delivery models like Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS) came just in time to make technology affordable for smaller businesses which were otherwise limited by resource constraints.However, as SMEs continue to fuel the country’s economy, the growth of the SME sector itself is largely dependent on its ability to adapt to the pace of the digital transformation that the industry is undergoing.

What lies ahead – challenges &opportunities

What needs to be acknowledged is that technological changes are driven by none other than the consumers and their continuously evolving expectations. In such a scenario, today’s innovation becomes ‘normal’ tomorrow and passé sooner than ever. To remain competitive SMEs need to focus on exceeding customers’ expectations time and again. This is easier said than accomplished. While most SMEs use newer technologies to improve their operational effectiveness and process efficiencies in manufacturing and product development, they generally tend to ignore other key business functions such asSales and Marketing. For any growth focused business – small or large – sales and marketing are the most strategic business functions. Revenue generation is not an easy feat and requires sales reps to be equipped with the latest tools that can boost their performance. However, against common perception, the toughest part of the Sale and Marketing job is not new customer acquisition, but long term retention of existing customers. This is where IT-enabled approaches like Customer Relationship Management (CRM) have been pivotal in improving both the top line and bottom-line performance of businesses.

Customer relationship management – the newfound love of SMEs

CRM has been around for a while now, but although it got immediate traction from larger enterprises, its adoption rate within the SME sector had been comparatively very slow. Nonetheless, with more and more CRM vendors focusing their energies on making it affordable for SMEs, introducing on-demand, web-based CRM applications, it is rapidly becoming a key element of every SME’s digital strategy. Leveraging the benefits accrued from CRM, small businesses are quickly ramping themselves up to match the efficiencies of larger enterprises. While on the one hand, CRM has been making inroads into the SME sector, on the other hand, the scope of CRM itself has evolved over the years to cover end-to-end management of customer relationships starting even before the stage of customer acquisition.

A futuristic approach – confluence of CRM and market intelligence

The next breakthrough in this space will be the confluence of market intelligence and CRM. In an increasingly complex landscape, businesses need to adopt a more scientific approach to sell to a highly mobile and extremely aware new generation of customers. More than ever, today’s customers seek authenticity in your brand’s communication and probably that’s why newer approaches such as social selling, persona-based marketing, and outcome selling are replacing the traditional sales tactics. Having said that, to be able to use these new approaches effectively it is extremely important for vendors to be contextually aware of their prospects’ business, their buying processes, technology usage, etc. Businesses have realized that timely access to intelligent insights about customers is the be all and end all in today’s data-intensive world, and this realization is driving the convergence of CRM and market intelligence.

CRM

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