From personal information managers to cloud-based enterprise CRM
Most people's first contact with the predecessors to sales management systems are thru PIM's. PIM is the acronym for personal information manager. PIM's are what your Microsoft Outlook contacts listing is. PIM's are what a lot of people came in contact with thru Lotus Notes for basic maintenance of contact information. The concept here was that you moved your traditional rolodex of business cards into an electronic format. PIM's generally contain simple information regarding your contacts.
Personal Sales Management Software
Maximizer, Goldmine, and ACT! software really took the PIM to the next level. And, it seemed like self-motivated sales people, like Real Estate Agents, were really pushing this move. All of a sudden there were these sales management systems that lived on individual laptops and PC's that, in addition to tracking basic personal information against contacts, would also track sales opportunities. These systems were great for individuals, but their biggest flaw was that they didn't roll-up nicely for Management to view what was happening across all Sales Reps in their organizations.
Sales Management For The Enterprise
The objective of rolling up sales opportunities into one unified view in an efficient manner is what really drove the next phase of sales management software. You soon had players like Pivotal, Onyx, and Siebel offering solutions that allowed Management to have a rolled up dashboard of what was happening in sales. This did wonders for software and IT as it moved IT out of the backroom, where its' primary job was reducing costs, to the front room, where software and IT all of a sudden became a revenue generator. The only problem was that these big sales management systems were expensive. They were only being used by the big companies where implementations would, more times than not, cost upward of $1 million.
CRM For Everyone
The need for a CRM for mid-market organizations was ripe when Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce entered the market. The need for sales management software that was applicable at an enterprise level and coming in at a price point in the 100's of thousands or 10's of thousands instead of one million was overwhelming. And, besides the fact, Pivotal and Siebel seemed to have completely implemented CRM across the upper market. And, as it is with technology, the functionality found in those larger CRM packages was slowly making its way into Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce; so much so, that the need for the larger players in the CRM market had been giving way to the mid market players in CRM.
Software, like everything else throughout history, is built on the backs of what came before it. CRM is no different.