CRM software on its own is incredibly powerful. But when you integrate it with the right tools in a way that works for your business, it becomes the backbone of your entire operation. It’s not something you can afford to get wrong. So, we created this in-depth guide to help you work your new CRM into your daily workflows and connect it with all of your other business tools… the right way the first time.
Why CRM Integration Is So Important
A CRM platform helps companies target new potential customers and maintain strong relationships with existing customers. CRM software keeps all of your customer info centralized in one place, including:
- Metrics and scores
- Previous interactions
- Contact information
Whether you’re doing marketing, sales, customer support, or all three, the right CRM software helps inform all of your ongoing customer interactions throughout the sales funnel. When done well, it can facilitate short sales cycles, long cycles, and everything in between.
Add to that the statistic that the average ROI for CRM is $8.71 for every dollar spent, and there should be no question as to whether your company should get on the CRM train today.
However, just having CRM software isn’t enough. Where the challenge comes is in properly integrating CRM into your business and workflow. Linking your CRM seamlessly to your existing traditional software is vital in keeping your customers satisfied and increasing productivity on the company side of things. Without successful integration, your CRM will quickly become a tool that you are begging your team to use, with no real initiative on their part. At best, your new CRM becomes a waste of money and a massive timesuck for your entire team.
When integrated correctly, your CRM can be one of the most powerful tools your company has.
The first step in CRM integration is knowing the different types of integration that exist. Your company may need all the different types of integration, or maybe just a couple of them.
Many companies swear by email marketing. They say that it is one of the, if not the, most effective tools for marketing. A marketing campaign that is done with CRM-backed email can personalize the emails and better target prospective leads.
On top of that, email integration provides the ability to analyze and make any necessary changes to the marketing strategy to ensure the success of future campaigns.
Many people are swapping out old-fashioned planners for digital calendars that are quick and easy to use. For those who struggle with busy days, calendar integration for CRM offers massive potential to simplify daily activities.
By integrating internal CRM calendars with other calendars such as Google Calendar or iCal, your sales team will remember important meetings or appointments, set payment due dates, and much more.
Social Media Integration
Social media usage does not seem to be going anywhere. According to research, over 3.6 billion people used social media worldwide in 2020, and that number is expected to keep growing. If that’s not a sign that you need to figure out how to use social media for your company, we aren’t sure what is.
One way you can reap the benefits of social media’s massive presence in the world is to use it as a tool to connect and engage with existing and potential customers. The best way to do this is by integrating the various social media platforms into CRM.
Marketing Automation Integration
Though many people think that CRM exists to make life easier for the sales team, it also has the power to make things easier for the marketing team. This is why it is important to integrate marketing automation with your CRM. This allows both teams to access the same information and cut the chances of lost opportunities resulting from a lack of inter-company communication.
Quick Tips to Improve CRM Integration Today
Now that you understand the benefits of CRM and the importance of CRM integration, it’s time to share some tips to help improve the integration process, as it can be a complex one.
To make things easier, start by choosing CRM software that is best for your company and has plenty of success stories. We did significant research to determine the best CRM software and found that the top pick for most businesses is Hubspot. Unlike many other free versions of CRM software, Hubspot’s free plan offers a number of great features without paying a dime. The ease of use of Hubspot is another added benefit if your company does not yet have a tech support team dedicated to helping with CRM.
And when you’re ready to upgrade to a paid plan, Hubspot has a few different options that each offer different levels of features, ranging from $45 per month to $1,200 per month.
Pick One Person To Spearhead the Integration
There is definitely such a thing as too many cooks in the kitchen when it comes to CRM integration. The more people involved in this process, the more room for miscommunication and all kinds of errors. That’s why your company needs to choose one person who can lead the mission of implementation.
This person chosen to take the lead on the integration should do so systematically and so that each task in the process is prioritized and properly worked through. This person needs to have authority in the company as well as the ability to approve decisions.
To maximize the efficacy and success of this person, it is suggested that they get certified in CRM. This will ensure they know the software forwards and backward to aid in company implementation and take advantage of all the features and benefits that CRM software offers.
Appreciate Small Wins
Though the real prize sits at the end of the integration tunnel, there are opportunities for positive things to happen along the way, and those small things should be recognized.
Celebrating wins isn’t just for when you close the deal. It’s for the successes throughout the process. And when integrating CRM into your company, there may be some struggles along the way that will force you to celebrate the small wins.
However, once you reach completion, the satisfaction you’ll get from this integration will be unlike anything else. You’ll see that CRM is capable of motivating team members, aiding in closing more deals, and making peoples’ jobs much easier.
Know Security Challenges
Keeping all the information in your CRM secure is one of the important things your company will do. That security begins with the implementation of the CRM. Some companies and CRM software use Application Program Interface (API) to communicate. The API is a middleman between two different applications or software.
To keep security strong, your company will want to have the IP address, as it will be used for the integration. You will also need to give access to those who perform the integration and use strong passwords that are more than 120 characters long and are a mix of symbols, numbers, uppercase, and lowercase letters.
Keep Track of Performance
Knowing how things sync up during integration and whether the software is working correctly is very important. While this could be done manually by checking in with different departments, some CRM software offers a customer panel from which you can check the status of your sync.
Implementing a new system doesn’t always come cheap. However, in the case of CRM, you stand to gain much more money than you put in. According to Finances Online, CRM software has the ability to boost sales by 29%, productivity by 34%, and the ability to forecast accuracy by 42%.
Carefully choosing the right CRM for your company and looking at what will be gained is vital. There is some risk that your team may not utilize the CRM to its maximum effectiveness, but that is a leap of faith you must take (after careful and thorough research, of course). Make sure that this purchase is best for your company.
Long-Term Strategies for CRM Integration
The above things will help you in the very important process of your company’s integration of CRM and will be integral to the success of CRM. However, what is equally as important is the long game. For the integration of CRM to truly be deemed a success, what happens before, during, and after the integration needs to go well.
To ensure that your company sees the full spectrum of benefits of CRM integration, read below for some long-term strategies.
Rather than having someone come to your sales and marketing teams and inform them that CRM implementation is happening, steps need to be taken to ensure that they play a role in the process. This inclusion is key to the success of the implementation.
A good way to begin this is by sending out a company-wide survey about improving the quality of leads and allowing employees to share feedback on the current sales funnel.
Once the surveys have been collected and data has been reviewed, the CMO of the company can then call a meeting to discuss implementation. The meeting should begin with the CMO referring specifically to the survey and other stats within the sales and marketing team. In this part of the process, the CMO should explain the teams’ pain points and how the CRM can fix them. This understanding is key to the success of the integration.
Once the teams are clear on what they stand to gain from integration, they are much more likely to feel positive about the actual integration itself.
Current members of your team must understand how to use the system as well as future members. This can be done by getting documentation in place to make it possible and easy for anyone to access and learn your company’s CRM.
During the initial integration of CRM in your company, it will be key for you to take notes about what you do along the way. This is what will be accessed by employees to carry on the system you create. And the way that you share your notes with employees is important.
The best way to present this information is not via a handbook with 200 pages of information. That guarantees that they will shut down and reject the idea. Instead, use your skilled marketing team to put together training videos, visually-stimulating emails, and check-ins. This way, your employees will be more excited about this new system, and it will be much more likely to succeed. You can also create a database of documentation where employees can search for answers to questions and troubleshoot.
Hire a Person Dedicated to Bringing Sales and Marketing Together
Rather than choosing one person from sales and one person from marketing to spearhead the process, choose one person who has experience in and knowledge of both teams. Both teams need to feel heard, and a neutral party ensures all needs are being met.
Many companies are creating a new role that serves as the middleman between sales and marketing. The role is often referred to as “Marketing Technologist” or “Marketing Operations Strategist.” It is best filled by someone internal so that collaborations between teams can be made easily and goals and processes are aligned.
There will be hiccups along the way of CRM integration, and some of those hiccups may come in the form of turnover. Because this is almost inevitable, communication must be kept regular and open regarding the CRM integration. The more communication about issues from the start, the less likely they will turn into something bigger that necessitates leaving the company.
Have a Team Dedicated to Solving Problems
As much as you may aim for smooth integration with no problems, there is still the possibility that something goes wrong in the process. However, the bumps in the road don’t have to cause major damage if there are teams and members assigned to dealing with those problems.