There's a very interesting article in the latest edition of Selling Power (registration required). They quote market research from Gartner that suggests that despite budget pressures on almost every aspect of business, CRM expenditures are likely to hold up - and in fact are projected to grow in Europe by 4% from 2008 to 2009.
There's a simple and powerful rationale: to win in today's markets, vendors need to target their prospects more selectively, and to execute their sales strategies impeccably. Nobody wants to be spending scarce sales resources on poorly qualified opportunities that aren't going to buy.
Most of the investment is going into improving the effectiveness of the CRM systems they already have in place. It's become critical that these investments are both a technical and commercial success, and a more intelligent approach to CRM implementation is yielding tangible benefits.
We're seeing a particular surge in interest in pipeline analytics solutions from vendors like Cloud9 Analytics. These tools are proving highly effective in extracting actionable intelligence from the mass of sales data companies have been accumulating.
We've also been involved in a growing number of projects to review and where necessary re-implement CRM systems in order to better align them with facilitating the buying process - rather than simply monitoring the sales cycle.
It seems that the traditional reputation for CRM projects costing too much, taking too long and delivering inadequate results is being sucessfully challenged. With the benefit of clear visibility of what's really going on in their pipelines, sales organisations are able to focus in on changes and to react while there is still time to influence outcomes.
As Selling Power observes, having a CRM system that delivers isn't a nice to have any more - it's a must have.