How to Stand Out in Your Category: Buyer Insights for CRM Software

May 15, 2023
Contributor: Caroline Hogan

Buyer behavior insights to help you level up your marketing strategy

The demand for customer relationship management (CRM) software is on the rise in the U.S., with a 35% increase in searches on our comparison sites Capterra, GetApp, and Software Advice over the past year. But with over 1,600 CRM products listed on these sites, how can sellers make sure they stand out and get their fair share of buyer attention?

Each year, our software advisors speak with thousands of decision-makers evaluating new CRM software for their business. We’ve mined those conversations for insights that you can use to fine-tune your messaging and create a unique positioning that speaks directly to the needs of CRM software buyers.

Key insights

  • The top reason businesses switch CRM systems is to improve efficiency, secure missing functionality, and gain usability.
  • Many buyers rely on everyday office software, such as spreadsheets and Outlook to store their customer data, but find they need a dedicated CRM tool.
  • CRM buyers seek sales automation features, but actual users rate contact management as most critical.
  • Typical buyer budgets for CRM software range from $63 to $94 per user, per month, and differ slightly by industry.

Why buyers search for new CRM software

According to our data, there are three main reasons businesses become dissatisfied with their current CRM system and search for new software: inefficiency (30%), lack of functionality (20%), and difficulty using the software (20%).

In fact, each of these issues is likely related. For example, if your software doesn’t offer automation features, marketers may need to manually create and send emails resulting in less efficient workflows.

→  Pro tip

Ensure your sales team can gather specific requirements from prospects and offer product demonstrations tailored to their unique needs.

Remember, while a free trial is designed to provide actual product use and experience, demos are best suited to highlight use cases.

Software Market Insights: CRM

Software Market Insights: CRM

A complete guide for software and SaaS providers to effectively position your CRM solution and engage B2B buyers.

Tools buyers are replacing with CRM software

Of the businesses that purchased a new CRM, 45% previously used general-purpose tools such as spreadsheets and email to help manage customer interactions and streamline processes. These everyday office tools are more likely to lead to issues such as contact information stored in decentralized places and inaccurate interaction tracking, resulting in missed opportunities to strengthen customer relationships. 

→  Pro tip

Identify your buyers' pain points and demonstrate how your CRM software provides dedicated features that will lead to better outcomes across the business. By centralizing customer data, CRM tools can help to break down silos and promote cross-functional collaboration. It's important to clarify that despite requiring more upfront investment and time to implement, having a CRM system in place will improve efficiency and reduce costs.

What CRM software features are valued the most

Nearly all (98%) of buyers, who are typically decision-makers in an organization, seek sales automation features to assist with sales pipeline management, lead management, and workflow management.

However, when we looked at software reviews to find out what CRM users—typically sales representatives—found most critical, contact management capabilities were No. 1. Users prioritized the ability to manage their relationships with customers and prospects, including contact information storage and organization, lead and deal tracking, and task management.

Since most CRM tools offer both sales automation and contact management features, it becomes more difficult for buyers to compare and select the right product. This is why in today's competitive marketplace, customizing software capabilities to meet specific buyer needs will be a decisive factor in winning in the CRM software category. 

→  Pro tip 

Filter and compare your ratings against competitors to help you position your product, highlight key strengths and illustrate how reviewers use your software to solve business challenges. 

You can also promote how your product stacks up against the competition by showcasing earned awards and third-party badges based on ratings and popularity.

How buying budgets compare with software pricing

Buyers' budgets roughly align with the pricing our research team sees in the marketplace. Software prices largely depend on the features and number of user seats needed. The overall average budget businesses are willing to pay for CRM software per user, per month is $76.

The average budget for each industry slightly differs from the overall budget due to industry-specific requirements. For example, our data shows that businesses operating in the mortgage sector using a CRM system typically spend $94 per user per month, in contrast to the $63 budget of consulting companies.

The key here is to fully understand the unique needs of each industry requiring advanced capabilities. The real estate industry relies heavily on CRM software to manage customer relationships, track leads, and automate marketing campaigns, but some firms may require next-level features such as integrations with multiple listing services (MLS) databases or property management software. Similarly, organizations in the healthcare space may require more specialized CRM features, such as patient portals and electronic health records (EHR), which can increase the budget.

→  Pro tip

When determining the pricing for your CRM software, it's important to consider the industry in which your target buyers operate, as some industries may have more complex requirements that can drive up costs. To evaluate how you stack up against your competition, you can use Capterra's CRM software pricing guide.

Rise above your competition with strategic insights

CRM software marketers face enormous pressure to set their product apart from competition in a crowded marketplace. But with the right insights, you can better understand the key priorities and pain points among your target audience and address them directly in your product messaging to claim your fair share of buyer attention.

With more than 9 million active software buyers on our sites every month, Gartner Digital Markets can equip you with the strategic insights you need to level up your marketing strategy and become a leader in your category.


Get access to top-quality software buyer data with our intent data services and gather the intelligence that will boost your conversion rates.


Caroline Hogan

Caroline Hogan is the Senior Director of Vendor Marketing at Gartner Digital Markets, where she manages the marketing strategy for the vendor platform. She has more than 20 years of marketing experience, leading initiatives from brand strategy and demand generation to customer retention and advocacy. Connect with Caroline on LinkedIn.


Methodology and buyer demographics

Software buyers analysis 

Findings are based on data from conversations that our advisor team has daily with software buyers seeking guidance on purchase decisions. The data used to create this report is based on interactions with small-to-midsize businesses seeking CRM tools. For this report, we analyzed approximately 3,000 phone interactions from March 2022 to February 2023.

The findings of this report represent buyers who contacted Gartner Digital Markets and may not be indicative of the market as a whole. Data points are rounded to the nearest whole number.

The buyers we interacted with are largely small businesses representing a growing majority of CRM software purchases. Below you’ll find the demographics of the buyers so you can see the size and type of businesses, from annual revenue to industry.

Type of buyers by annual revenue
Type of buyers by number of employees
Type of buyers by industry
Type of buyers by number of users
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