What is a Modern CRM?

Best Practices

Modern Love – a catchy song by David Bowie

Modern Family – a long-running sitcom

Modern Warfare – a Call of Duty release

One or more of these might sound familiar. While each of these pop culture references are distinct, the word ‘modern’ in all of them is unified in that it’s about leaving the past behind and moving towards enlightenment. 

That brings us to Modern CRM – not as popular of a term yet, but about to make a big splash. 

How do you describe a Modern CRM?

The advent of the Modern CRM and the qualities and features of a Modern CRM center around the maturity of the CRM space. In fact, to explain the significance of Modern CRMs, it helps to understand how drastically they have evolved from legacy CRMs, but more on that in our history of CRM systems below.

In short, CRM technology isn’t new anymore, nor is the Cloud. 

Modern CRMs leverage the latest cloud, mobile, API, and database technologies and make them easily usable and accessible by all members in an organization. 

Anyone that has used a legacy CRM knows the challenges with customizations, usability, integrations, and ongoing administrative costs of those solutions. Therefore, a Modern CRM is delivered to users in a way that meets the specific needs of their unique business at a predictable, fair cost. Plus, a Modern CRM is scalable and will grow with you, so you’ll never outgrow it.

Let’s explore more of the qualities of a Modern CRM, look at the evolution of CRM (e.g. ‘how did we get here?’), and then talk about some things that Modern CRM is not

Features of a Modern CRM

Mobile CRM access

Today’s workforce is out and about. Whether your team is on the floor of a trade show, attending an in-person training, or working in a coffee shop, access to the CRM is a must. Mobile access to a Modern CRM should go beyond basic features and allow users to conduct business on the go. For example, sales people should be able to pull up their pipeline, and access or add new leads while they’re on the trade show floor.

Easy to implement and use across your entire organization

Businesses today do not have time to pause operations for a months-long CRM implementation or recurring training sessions for new feature releases. Therefore, your CRM must be intuitive, which means it’s built with simplicity, not complexity.

Bar chart of the aspects of CRM that are important to buyers

Source: Insightly State of CRM research, 2022

Simple and inexpensive to customize to your unique needs

Old fashioned CRMs had a one-size fits all approach and businesses were forced to conform to it. This often meant that you were repurposing fields or creating work-arounds to not mess with the status quo. CRM has matured to the point where businesses no longer have to do this. Custom fields, objects, workflows, and the like should be easy to set up and maintain. This means they do not require the help of expensive integration consultants or even full-time staff. Quite simply, your CRM should adapt to your business with a minimal amount of effort.

Integrates easily with the tools you use each day

In the early years, CRM developers assumed that it would be your responsibility to pass data from your CRM to the tools in your business. This often meant exports and spreadsheets…but that was your job to handle. Modern CRMs are built with the understanding that the CRM is the heart of your business and must integrate with the tools you use every day. The ability to integrate comes standard with a Modern CRM…it’s part of its DNA. 

Predictable, low total cost of ownership

With Legacy CRMs, you can expect to spend 3-5x of your licensing cost in implementation, customizations, integrations, and staffing/consultants. While this seemed acceptable in the past, Modern CRMs drastically reduce and often eliminate these costs because they were built to do so. If you’re pricing a Legacy CRM vs. a Modern one, you’ll need to ask specifically about these expenses to get an accurate picture of the total cost of ownership. Without fail, Modern CRMs will come out ahead. 

Scales with you as your business grows

Legacy CRMs may be known to be “a fit for SMB” or “made for Enterprise.” That’s because they were built on antiquated technology that limited scope and therefore forced them to have a buyer in mind. Modern CRMs are built for growing businesses of all sizes. The flexibility and scalability means that you don’t have to abandon a platform as your business hits a growth curve; your CRM grows with you.

Provides the ability to use a platform of applications

Perhaps just a CRM is on your radar. Or maybe you want to drive more leads with marketing automation and better support customers with a customer service tool. Modern CRMs will offer applications on the same platform to serve your go-to-market teams across the board. For instance, Insighly offers Insightly Marketing, a full-featured marketing automation platform, and Insightly Service, a customer support ticketing tool. You can choose these applications, or choose AppConnect, a drag and drop integration tool for low-code/no-code integrations with your applications of choice. If you choose to use all of the Insightly products, you’ll make great strides in aligning your teams by providing a single view of the end-to-end customer journey. 

End result: helping your team sell smarter, grow faster, and build lasting relationships 

Puts security first

Many Legacy CRMs on the market today were conceived in a world where security concerns were practically non-existent. Retrofitting those apps to adjust to today’s security challenges is difficult and can lead to vulnerabilities. It can also limit performance and speed. Modern CRMs that are built for the cloud don’t need to compromise speed for security. They can provide it all. Look for features like SOC 2 Type II certification, two factor authentication, encryption of data in transit and at rest, HIPAA  compliance, GDPR compliance, and EU/US Privacy Shield. 

Modern CRM – how did we get here?

The roots of CRM can be traced back to the 1980s when contact management software became available. Brands like ACT and Goldmine were essentially a digital, stand-alone Rolodex of information stored locally on your computer. 

That period lasted until the 1990s when Brock Systems and Siebel came along. At that point, the world moved into client-server mode where a server stored data and lighter, client computers interfaced with it on a local network. This allowed for information sharing among co-located office mates, but was limited because it was wired and on-premises. 

In the 2000s, the cloud burst on to the scene, and client-server CRM software developers did their best to retrofit their technology to the cloud. They succeeded, but the result was often clunky, with slow load times, bolt-on integrations that broke with new releases, and labor-intensive customizations that were nearly cost-prohibitive.

It’s the next generation of CRMs that fit the description of Modern CRM and here’s why: they were born in the cloud, not retrofitted for it. This cloud-first development methodology is what keeps integrations easy, customizations quick, and makes the application respond with lightning speed. 

Insightly’s bold prediction: All companies will be on a Modern CRM by 2030. 

Graph showing the evolution of modern CRM over time from 1980-present.

What a modern CRM isn’t

Does your CRM pass the Modern CRM test? You can ask yourself these questions to find out:

  • Am I spending significant time and money on customizations?
  • Are integrations a pain point? Are they difficult to set up and maintain? Do they often break?
  • Do integrations require a developer who can write code?
  • Is my pricing predictable, or are my costs variable and inconsistent? 
  • Do I need one or multiple full-time staff members to administer and/or operate my CRM? 
  • Do I require outside help from a consultant for implementation?
  • Do team members struggle to use the CRM effectively? Are they performing work-arounds?
  • Can team members build reports/dashboards for the data they want to see?
  • Do they offer a complete platform for data sharing among the go-to-market teams?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you’ve got a Legacy CRM on your hands. It might be a great time to talk to Insightly.

Graphi about CRM complaints and for CRMs that are not modern CRMs.

Source: Insightly State of CRM research, 2022

Don’t compromise features in a Modern CRM

You might be thinking, “If my CRM is fast, simple, and secure, does that mean I need to compromise on features?”

The answer is no.

You can still get all of the features that make a CRM great, like pipeline and lead management, lead tracking and opportunity management. You can increase productivity with workflow and process automation.You’ll sell efficiently with products, pricebooks and quotes, and track and send emails in the CRM. You can manage projects and tasks with built-in post sale project management tools, and get real-time data with performance dashboards and reporting.  

In short, robust features are standard in most Modern CRMs; you don’t need a slow, clunky legacy system to get the power that you want.

Why Insightly is a Modern CRM

Insightly CRM passes the Modern CRM test. Born in the cloud and built with mobility, flexibility, customization, and integration in mind, it’s a modern CRM that your teams will love.

Add on Insightly Marketing, a full-featured marketing automation platform, and Insightly Service, a customer support ticketing tool to power-up your go-to-market teams with increased alignment and collaboration. Choose AppConnect, a drag and drop integration tool for low-code/no-code integrations with the other applications that run your business, including HR tools (ADP, Bamboo HR), accounting apps (Xero, QuickBooks, Docusign), communication tools (Slack) and more.  

Get started with a free trial of Insightly CRM today, or request a personalized demo to see how Insightly can help your company achieve its business goals.