Market leaders use connectivity and integrations to other applications to differentiate themselves.
Definition of CRM Lead Management
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) lead management is the process of taking in prospect contact information, observing those prospects’ actions, and determining whether they warrant contact from sales. CRM lead management workflows include lead de-duplication, scoring, routing and qualifying.
To be included in Gartner’s report for this category, a product must have bidirectional integration with CRM/SFA applications and call center app. It must also automate lead passing and tracking. On top of that, it needs to integrate with at least two CRM, PRM (Partner Relationship Management), or digital commerce apps.
Predictions for the future of CRM lead management
For this category, the future holds a strong focus on out-of-the-box integration capabilities to marketing, SFA (Sales Force Automation), CRM, PRM and retail execution solutions, to ensure the seamless flow and collection of customer data. In support of this conclusion, the research firm Future Market Insights contends that growing collaborations between marketing and sales teams is the significant factor to boost the demand for lead management.
Leaders in CRM lead management
Leaders in this space include Oracle, Marketo, IBM and Salesforce. For detailed reasoning by vendor, you can download reprints of the Gartner report from their respective sites. These SaaS companies have in common their high-volume data processing capabilities. They also have in common a key differentiator–integrations, which we’ll focus on in this post.
Integrations differentiate lead management vendors
Native integration features kept Oracle, Marketo and IBM in the top four. Customers reported positively on Oracle’s integrations in particular with event management, social media, messaging platforms and its own CRM suite. Meanwhile, Salesforce ascended to the top right of the quadrant, in no small part due to its interoperability with other marketing software.
Those companies not in the top right of the quadrant found themselves mentioned in the cautionary sections of Gartner’s report. For example, Zoho received below-average ratings from reference customers with regard to lead augmentation and de-duplication because it lacks native integrations to third-party data sources.
Customers of Lead Management vendors demand integration with prevailing CRMs
According to IDC, Salesforce continues to lead the CRM application market. See the chart below, which is publicly available from Salesforce here.
Key lead management companies fall short of supplying the native integrations their customers demand.
The chart below shows the top 14 lead management vendors in the left column. It then shows six market-dominating CRMs horizontally across the top. The red and green cells indicate whether each lead management vendor provides their users with native integration to that CRM.
Why integrations are important to lead management users
Imagine that you are Marketo. Your customers use you to collect leads from various promotion channels such as email. They then need to access information about those leads in their system of record, which is usually a CRM. Knowing that Salesforce is the most-used CRM, you build a native integration from scratch to Salesforce within your product. And voila! Pleased customers.
Integrating with Salesforce alone is not enough
Here’s the problem with that approach. There was a time when Salesforce held a larger lion’s share of the CRM market, but that time has passed. Add the next three largest CRMs’ market shares together and you approach the same 16.8% of the overall market. That’s a lot of users to leave on the table.
In other words, one of your users may have Hubspot as their source of truth while another uses SugarCRM. Since you want your users to love your CRM lead management product, you need to provide them with integration to both (either) of the CRMs.
Best practices for CRM API integration
Integrating your Lead Management app with multiple CRMs sounds like a great plan until your engineering team realizes how much work it is to connect your product to the HubSpot API, not to mention starting over to then integrate with the SugarCRM API from scratch. This is when outside tools such as Kloudless can help.
Product teams use Kloudless’ Unified CRM API to connect their Lead Management product to multiple CRMs with a single implementation.
So if you’re Marketo, you can quickly provide not just two, but a long tail of CRM integrations for your users.
It’s not enough to have integrations; the integrations themselves must be easy to implement. For example, although Hubspot has hundreds of integrations to other marketing apps, reference customers cite difficulty in implementing Hubspot’s API to connect external solutions. Their users would prefer a stronger integration with external CRM tools. Product teams that leverage Kloudless Unified APIs don’t need to worry about murky implementations. They connect to the Kloudless API and let Kloudless worry about version maintenance and the troubling quirks of each underlying CRM’s API.
One of the surest ways to lose a customer is to require that they exit your product environment in order to complete a common task. Non-native integrations between lead management systems and CRMs do just that. They require that the user sign in to another service provider to access the CRM functionalities they need. On the other hand, when lead management companies build integrations directly into their product, their users access CRM functionality without leaving the product environment, thereby enjoying a better experience and reinforcing trust in the lead management product.
And speaking of users’ experience, nothing pleases users more than custom features they can take advantage of on demand. Automated workflows may do the trick if a user has an action they need repeated in the background over and over. However, when a user needs the option to interact with data and perform an action or not, that’s where Kloudless Unified APIs make more sense. How so? When a developer embeds one of Kloudless’ prebuilt user interfaces, such as the Kloudless File Explorer, into their product, users easily perform actions that meet their specific needs.
Results of integrating additional CRMs
One company that used Kloudless’ Unified APIs to differentiate itself is BigTinCan. Bigtincan’s seamless integrations further solidified their leadership in the sales enablement space by securing them more customers they would have otherwise left on the table. Given that Salesforce owns just over 16% of the CRM market, Bigtincan began capturing more customers who used Oracle and Microsoft, increasing Bigtincan’s total addressable market by several percentage points, and within a year, their overall revenue from deals they would have otherwise lost. To read more, see BigTinCan’s use case.
Wondering how embedded integrations to multiple CRMs can increase your market share in the CRM lead management space? Get in touch with our experts to find out more.