CRM software on its own is powerful. But in most cases, it’s only as good as the other software it meshes with. Knowing how to integrate your CRM with the tools you’re already using—like Gmail, Slack, or Trello—and the ones you’ll be using in the future is crucial. So, we created this in-depth guide to help you maximize your CRM through integrations—connecting 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.
The average ROI for CRM is $8.71 for every dollar spent, so there’s no reason to not have CRM software in place.
However, having CRM software isn’t enough—it needs to play well and integrate with the tools you already use. If your CRM doesn’t fit into your current workflows, your new tool may quickly become a tool that no one wants to use. At best, your new CRM becomes a waste of money. At worst, it wastes your team’s most precious resource (time) and causes days or even weeks of unnecessary frustration.
But when integrated correctly, your CRM can be one of the most powerful tools your company has.
The first step to CRM integration is knowing what integrations are available and which ones are the most important for your business. You may leverage all of them or you may leave some tools out of the loop on purpose.
When your email and CRM solutions work together, you get everything you need to send nothing but hyper-personalized marketing, sales, and post-purchase emails. Your CRM system holds a goldmine of lead and customer data you can use to tailor campaigns and automated emails based on their preferences, buying behavior, and your previous interactions.
Plus, you can keep all of those interactions centralized in one place to study what works and what doesn’t.
Integrating your calendar may seem like a small thing that doesn’t offer an impressive list of benefits. But that’s far from the truth. When your calendar and CRM solution are in sync, your agents and reps can call prospects or customers from their calendar, edit events anywhere with full two-way sync, eliminate the back-and-forth looking for the perfect time to meet, ensure your team’s never double-booked, and view staff availability at a glance.
Scheduling demos, sales calls, internal meetings, and training sessions with the right reps is easier than ever.
Social Media Integration
Odds are, your customers, clients, and leads are on some form of social media. So, it makes sense for your business to show up where they hang out online. Not only that, but connecting various social media platforms with your CRM gives you unprecedented insight into what your audience shares, likes, and interacts with.
You’ll also know how they interact with your business and others like yours, giving you a leg up on your competitors. Connecting the two centralizes everything in one place so you can look at social media behavior next to all of your other interactions.
Marketing Automation Integration
Although CRM is regularly thought of as a sales tool, many also come with marketing automation and alignment tools to ensure marketing, sales, and support are always on the same page.
With the right marketing integrations, your marketing team can supercharge your CRM and give themselves all the tools they need to meet the target audience where they are, bring new leads into your network, get to know them, and connect with them to encourage them to stick around.
When marketing and sales align, everyone can access the same information and reduce the chances of lost opportunities at every point in the funnel.
Quick Tips to Improve CRM Integration Today
As with many business tools, the results of CRM implementation and proper integration can take months or even years to start truly measuring. But in our experience, there are five quick wins you can do now to speed up the process and start making the most of your CRM—and its integrations—today.
First and foremost, choosing the right CRM software is key.
Our top pick is Hubspot CRM because of its comprehensive free plan and modular paid plans that give you access to exactly what you need without having to pay for what you don’t.
Even without an in-house team to help maintain your CRM, the free edition of Hubspot is intuitive yet powerful enough to level up your customer relationships without paying a cent. If you’re looking for something simpler or for a specific use case, check out our other top picks here.
Regardless of the CRM you choose, you may have to iterate and try out different tools until you find the right fit. The good news is that most offer a free plan or a free trial so you can try it before investing.
Once you’ve found the right tool, the rest of the tips in this section will help you achieve quick wins within the next 24 hours.
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.