Are you letting valuable sales opportunities slip through the cracks? It's a common problem. Sales teams are busy, and it's easy to lose track of the prospects who aren't quite ready while you work with those that are.
Most sales people and business owners I work with are using spreadsheets, tickler files and other methods to keep track of the deals in their pipelines. The result is often a disorganized process that results in sales opportunities slipping through the cracks due to lack of follow up.
Having a CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) can help prevent this. But some CRMs are more trouble than they're worth, creating more steps and not really helping to streamline the sales process. You need a modern CRM that can work with the way you already communicate with your clients and not create a bunch of extra work for you.
In this blog post, you'll learn
- how your business can benefit from using a CRM,
- what questions to ask when looking into tools, and
- the features to look for in a solution
What is a CRM?
CRM stands for customer relationship management, and it refers to software that helps companies track all of their communications with their customers and leads. The goal a CRM system is to make your sales and marketing teams more effective in their interactions with your prospects and customers.
Your marketing team will use a CRM to make sure they are transferring the right leads to your sales team at the right time. Your sales team will use the CRM for prospecting, communication, and to track customer interactions and pipeline over time. Having the history of all of your communications in one place makes it easy for your team to work more efficiently, and reach out to the right prospects at the right time, without having to search through your email to figure out where things stand with a prospect or where the last conversation left off.
Does Your Company Need a CRM?
CRM systems are about relationships. If you want to maintain relationships with your customers you probably need a CRM system. To get a little bit more specific, there are two types of companies that often see the most benefit:
- B2B companies that typically need to track leads and customers across long sales cycles and through upgrade paths (e.g., a software company, a recruiting firm, a consulting firm)
- Considered purchase B2C companies (e.g., a jeweler, a landscaping service, or a realtor, travel agencies, and tour operators for customized travel itineraries). These are purchases that involve a buying process, not strictly transactional purchases.
Questions you should ask yourself:
- Do you need to keep a central database of information on your leads and customers? If you keep this information in different places, it's probably difficult to access and keep up to date.
- Are your customers regularly interacting with multiple people on your team? This can make it difficult for everyone keep track of where the conversation with any a customer left off.
- Do you struggle to understand the productivity of your sales team? Lack of a CRM makes this very difficult without requiring sales people to submit time consuming reports.
If you answered yes to any one or more of the above questions, your business could probably benefit from a CRM system.
What are the Benefits of a CRM?
Here are the major four ways a CRM can help you grow your business.
1. Better Lead Intelligence for Both Marketing and Sales
Would it be helpful if you knew when a potential customer was looking at your website, in real time?
Your CRM will let your sales team to know how many times potential customers have visited your site or if they have ever talked to a member of your sales team. Your sales team will have access to detailed, real-time lead intelligence all from one place. And this doesn't just help your sales team; it helps your marketing team as well. A CRM helps your marketing team see which leads turn into customers. They can see what brought them to your website and what pages they looked at before becoming a customer. This helps them figure out which of their efforts are working best so they can optimize future marketing campaigns.
2. Better Sales and Marketing (Smarketing) Alignment
Real-time reporting holds your sales and marketing teams accountable to their goals. By sharing information on leads, marketing efforts and sales results, both teams can work together to achieve the company's growth goals.
3. Help Sales Prioritize its Pipeline
A CRM helps your sales team visualize the sales pipeline, so they can prioritize who to call first so they don’t miss important opportunities. When sales and marketing set up a CRM, they can identify important criteria and even implement a lead scoring system. Organizational systems like these reduce time spent sifting through leads, and enable salespeople to prioritize the best opportunities.
4. Closed-Loop Reporting Lets Marketers Improve Campaigns
When you integrate marketing software with your CRM, marketing can easily analyze the how its campaigns are working using closed-loop reporting. For example, when a salesperson marks a lead into a paying customer in the CRM, and it can trigger automated notifications and actions in the marketing system as well. For example, you could program the software to automatically remove this lead for marketing nurturing sequences, and instead send it customer-focused information. Secondly, marketing will be able to attribute this new customer to a specific campaign and channel. Mapping marketing activities to sales events is critical for marketing to improve future campaigns.
What Are the 9 Must Have Features of a CRM?
Most important of all, a CRM system should be useful to its end users: salespeople, sales managers, marketers, and business leaders. These are the 9 features we consider as must-haves for any CRM:
1. Contact Management
All CRM systems allow users to create contact records and store contact information in a database. However, the best modern systems streamline contact data entry as much as possible. For example, in HubSpot's CRM, you can create a contact automatically from right inside your email inbox if you use Gmail or Outlook for your email. Super easy to add people to your database without any time consuming data entry.
2. Deal Stages
Most CRM systems can be customized to your specific sales process. Whether your company has three deal stages or 15, you should be able to program these levels into the software and attach associated values. It should also be easy to move a deal along the sales process, from one stage to the next. In HubSpot CRM, you can customize your pipeline to suit your sales process and advancing a deal is simple.
3. Daily Dashboard
Sales people need to be able to see their numbers a daily basis. Metrics such as their progress to date against quota, how many deals they have in their pipelines at which stages, and what outstanding tasks they need to complete. Similarly, sales managers and leaders need to be able to view these categories for the aggregated sales team. Evaluate this function based on visual appeal and simplicity.
4. Task Management
A sales person who has to toggle back and forth between several different systems to view and complete their daily tasks is not a happy person (though this is common). CRM systems that include task management capabilities streamline salespeople’s day-to-day workflow and help them keep on top of their follow up.
5. Content Repository
According to Docurated’s State of Sales Productivity 2015 study, salespeople spend 31% of their time hunting for or creating content. To cut back on wasted time searching for content, look for a CRM system with an embedded content repository. Look for a system that allows salespeople to save their go-to pieces of collateral in one place. And it’s not just collateral. Writing email copy can be another time suck for a busy sales person. Look for a system that also allows the user to file away customized email templates, so the sales rep is not reinventing the wheel with every new outreach. See an example of how easy it is to use email templates right from your email.
6. Automated Data Capture
One of the primary reasons companies decide to adopt a CRM is to keep better track of customer and prospect touches (emails, calls, etc). But, beware: Many CRM applications require salespeople to copy and paste their email outreach into the system or even upload call recordings. These extra steps can be maddening for salespeople who are making 50 or 100 calls every single day, and it leaves room for human error. Look for a software that does this step automatically. HubSpot CRM automatically logs calls made and emails sent, and posts them in a timeline-like view on a contact’s record page.
A CRM system is only as good as the insights it provides. Be sure that your CRM provides reporting features that make it easy to export and distribute the trends that the system reveals.
Mobile access to your CRM has been shown to increase productivity by 15%. Tying reps to a CRM system that can only be accessed via laptop is bound to annoy them, especially if they’re in a role that requires travel. The majority of CRM systems today allow salespeople to log on to the application from mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones -- make sure the ones you’re considering do as well.
9. Integration with Marketing Automation
And last but not least, integration between your marketing and sales platform is crucial. After all, the underlying concept of “customer relationship management” is to provide a complete lifecycle view into each prospect and client. A gap between marketing automation and CRM can lead to lost information and lost opportunities.
To reap the full benefits of a CRM, you have to choose one with the features that are right for your business today and that can grow with you as your business evolves. Think about your company’s growth goals, and consider both your short-term and long-term needs when investing in a CRM platform.
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