Notice anything different? Don’t worry, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. Miller Heiman Group is excited to present our updated website. The new look, tone and user experience reflect our commitment to our roots in sales, service and research, while recognizing our evolution into technology and analytics.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the future as Miller Heiman Group prepared for this launch — and, in turn, about the past. While we’ve been a leader in the sales training realm for decades, the concept of CRM has been around even longer. From where I’m sitting, the history of CRM falls into four clear evolutions:

CRM 1.0

The pre-digital era of CRM kicked off in 1956, with the invention of the Rolodex. The ability to flip through contacts gave salespeople a leg up in organizing their accounts — no more digging through piles of papers or losing napkins with names scribbled down.

The physical nature of the Rolodex mirrored the personalized sales attitudes of the era; a handshake or a slap on the back told a client you cared about them. Expertise on individual accounts was the name of the game.

CRM 2.0

The first major wave of computer-based CRM hit in July 1993, led by Tom Siebel, who designed the landmark on-premise CRM product, Siebel Systems. A full decade earlier, Kate and Robert Kestnbaum paved the way for Siebel when they pioneered the concept of database marketing, an electronic hub of customers, prospects and commercial contacts.

But at the dawn of the digital era, these solutions depended on massive onsite servers; CRM 2.0’s days were numbered. A move to “the cloud” was coming.

CRM 3.0

At first, no one quite knew what “the cloud” was or where it existed. But cloud computing made possible an entirely new era of sales, empowering salespeople to be even more effective on the road. It’s safe to say that Salesforce as we know it wouldn’t exist without the cloud. Its web-centric model became the blueprint for modern marketing technology.

As the cloud evolved and the Internet grew, sellers found many benefits, but also felt the flipside of easy access to information. With limitless data at their fingertips, buyers were now able to do their own research and start making decisions without relying on a sales professional’s expertise.

CRM 4.0

So where does this leave us today? Instead of revealing my thoughts on the next era of CRM here, I invite you to read Miller Heiman’s newest featured resource, “The Evolution of CRM.” It investigates these four eras in even more detail, including some notable moments in technology along the way. (Remember the PalmPilot? How about the first BlackBerry?)

More importantly, it uses these lessons to showcase our latest evolution, including Scout by Miller Heiman Group. The tools of the past have made possible the sales of the future. With these tools of the future, who knows what sales professionals will accomplish.

We’re excited for you to join us on this journey.

—Byron

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