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For Sales and Marketing Alignment, A CRM is No Longer Optional

CRM_Integration_No_Longer_OptionalIn a time when the landscape of technology and tools intended to make your business more successful seems more treacherous and less approachable, it can be tempting to turn tail and run the other way. In fact, it becomes easy to mask your feelings of being overwhelmed by the options with excuses like, “we aren’t big enough,” or “our spreadsheets are very effective!”

While there likely are many types of platforms that you don’t yet need to consider, there is one that absolutely is not optional in today’s marketplace – a Customer Relationship Management application, or CRM. Here are four reasons why:

Consumers Have Changed the Way They Want to be Sold to and Managed

The rise of the digital age has granted prospective buyers access to an insane amount of information they can use during their purchasing journey. Their expectations have changed, driving the need for an aligned sales and marketing strategy has never been greater. Their understanding of the capacity for tools to capture and store data regarding their interactions with various touch points of your brand has increased. When you combine these trends, what you have is a super consumer that expects a seamless selling experience that meets them where they are at each stage of their journey.

The only way to provide them what they’re looking for is by arming your teams with the complete context necessary to initiate intelligent conversations. A well-adopted CRM is the best way to store all of the lead info, critical account notes, emails, phone calls, etc. associated with key contacts and opportunities regardless of who is currently working with that individual. This global view can provide any member of your organization with the insight they need to get up to speed quickly in order to reach out at the right time with the right message.

Without a CRM, you run the risk of decentralized or incomplete data, version control, and limited access. Any one of these can lead to serious missteps with your prospects and customers leaving them with a bad impression of your ability to solve for their needs and a favorable consideration for your competitors that do have their shit together.  

You Need to Improve the Efficiency of Your Sales Funnel

The top-down pressure to make bigger sales more often with less effort that every organization faces likely has you evaluating how you can be more effective in your sales cycle. In fact, 47% of HubSpot's State of Inbound 2016 survey respondents indicated that this is their top sales priority. Without a CRM, though, you probably have very little visibility around key metrics you should be tracking to understand what is working and what needs improvement. How on Earth can you even begin to address bottlenecking and waste in the pipeline if you don’t have a clear view of what is happening?

With your non-CRM lead management approach, try to answer the following:

  • How long are leads in each opportunity stage on average?
  • Which stage sees the majority of diminishing returns?
  • What lead source(s) generates the majority of closed-won deals?
  • What is the conversion rate from Sales Qualified Leads to Customers?
  • How many sales activities typically lead to a new customer?

If you have no way of determining answers to these questions, how do you plan to address the real pressure points in your current sales cycle? Of course, you might have some decent guesses from a superficial standpoint as to what needs to be improved for efficiency gains, but if you can’t be sure you risk wasting valuable time and money on wild goose chase initiatives.

Even if you have developed the most sophisticated spreadsheet imaginable, chances are good that it requires a significant amount of maintenance and monitoring to ensure that the data is reliable. Perhaps even a dedicated resource? If you totaled up the time spent building reports, managing the spreadsheet, and the time spent by team members tracking down everything they need to prep for a call or meeting, you’d be surprised at how the cost of a CRM tool compares.

Aligning Sales and Marketing is the Best Way to Drive Results

When the discrepancy between the lead volume marketing believes sales is generating versus the lead volume sales believes they are generating is 14% off, it’s obvious that the disconnect is very real. By inserting a defined CRM system between the two teams to measure the success of campaigns and efforts, assigning lead sources according to predetermined guidelines, you can reduce the divisive attitudes as the data speaks for itself. When sales and marketing operate on the same wavelength, you’ll see amplified results.

And if you already have marketing automation software in place, you can further increase the amount of intelligence the sales team has going into their conversations by implementing a CRM integration. By syncing these two types of applications and promoting diligent adoption, both teams will have real-time context to craft and deliver the perfect message.

Additionally, while it is recommended to give credit where and when it is due to boost morale and employee buy-in, it also important to properly attribute revenue sources in order to reduce wasteful spending on initiatives or resources that do not produce results.

Your Business WILL Grow

Maybe with your current lead volume and sales structure, you can get by with a more manual approach to tracking activity and progress. But if you have any plans for real growth, now is the perfect time to build out a sales system where a CRM is the hub! If you wait until the leads are rolling in, you'll significantly reduce the chances of a successful implementation. Aside from not having adequate time and resources to configure the application properly, your sales team will probably feel too overwhelmed to keep up with the workload AND learn a new process and tool. Partial adoption will lead to bad data and wasted leads.

Alternatively, if you onboard a solution when you have the time and resources, you can take a much more detailed approach: build out the system, roll out for testing, evaluate the process, and make adjustments to address problematic elements. This method will better set you up for success in the long run.

And while $1,000+/mo for a premium tool may be out of your budget, there are several CRM options out there that can scale with you in terms of database capacity and integration possibilities. Some good options to kickstart your research include:

Evaluate Your Options Today

We understand that there are many concerns to navigate and consider when evaluating the abundance of CRM solutions available today. Having worked with several different applications ourselves, we would be happy to learn more about your challenges to help you make an informed decision!


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