When you look at the needs of sales reps and the way they work today, the CRM cloud vs. on-premises debate isn't really a debate at all.
At one time, selling was a largely individual activity where reps treated contact information and other customer details as closely guarded secrets. As selling became more complex, customer relationship management (CRM) platforms demonstrated the power of collectively managing customer data to make the selling process more targeted and relevant.
The CRM cloud vs. on-premises question reflects an opportunity for organizations to take another leap forward with sales enablement technology. They will be looking to IT, however, to help educate and guide them on whether moving to a cloud-based CRM solution is a good fit, and why.
Here's what you need to know to make the right business case.
Two types of CRM deployments
Installing a CRM platform directly within your own environment—the on-premises approach—was one of the few options available prior to the rise of cloud computing. Today, those who stick with an on-premises CRM solution are probably concerned about three things.
- Visibility: There is a perception that an on-premises CRM platform will offer greater visibility into where data is stored, which can alleviate security and compliance concerns.
- Integration: In other cases, organizations hope keeping the CRM solution on-premises will ease integration with other sales enablement applications.
- Control: Finally, some worry about control and ownership of data when they work with third-party cloud providers.
When you work with the right managed services provider, however, you can still maintain control, ownership and visibility while gaining a lot of other benefits that come with a CRM solution in the cloud. These benefits include:
Instead of paying for dedicated hardware and developers to assist with integration, cloud-based CRM systems work on a predictable, subscription model.
This allows organizations to cost-effectively increase their use of a CRM platform as their sales team grows, turning sales enablement into more of an operational expense. It also means fast and simple deployment compared with on-premises approaches.
Over time, meanwhile, because the cloud-based CRM system provider has the responsibility to keep their systems current, IT would not need to use resources to keep an on-premises system updated in order to prevent any potential vulnerabilities.
Any application hosted in the cloud becomes available virtually anywhere, and CRM is no exception. The always-on availability of cloud-based CRM systems can lead to a huge productivity boost for sales reps who are often on the road, or who may now need to work remotely at least part of the time.
Then there's the risk an organization's the need to ensure your CRM system is always backed up. With on-premises systems, IT is responsible for that task, while CRM systems in the cloud are backed up by the provider meaning that sales data is current and accessible to every single rep.
Ease of use
The cloud brings similar advantages to other applications where a CRM platform could plugin and add to the return on investment (ROI). With more organizations moving toward unified communications and collaboration as a service (UCaaS), for instance, reps are already working together in a more dynamic fashion.
A lot of the conversations that happen over calls, voicemail and instant messaging will almost certainly involve details about customers and prospects. This makes the combination of UCaaS and cloud-based CRM a natural evolution of a data-driven sales strategy.