8 Must-Have CRM Integrations To Optimize Your Business
Alright, I’m sure you’ve all heard the spiel about why you should invest in a marketing automation system that integrates with your customer relationship management (CRM) system. I’ve heard it too, and believe me; I understand how all the technical jargon and functionality regurgitation can be both confusing (“okay, but what does that really mean?”) and frustrating, (“Do I actually need this?”). Now, I don’t say that to be disrespectful to any marketing automation sales reps, but sometimes, what a prospect really wants, is to hear from someone less technical, who actually uses the product every single day, about how useful it is and what they really get out of it in terms of benefits.
What Is A CRM?
Lauren Carlson at Marketing Automation Software Guide recently pointed me to an article on their blog, written by Mike MacFarlane, and the article gives an excellent overview of what a CRM integration is and why it’s important for the overall success of your marketing automation system (which I completely agree with).
The post outlines the basics, what the technology actually does and how you can take it to the next level by outlining some more advanced features. I enjoyed the article and found it to be both insightful and informative, and it’s definitely a good place to get information about the necessary functionality of a CRM integration.
After reading the post, I thought it might be useful to share with you some of the real-life benefits that companies can achieve from a CRM integration with the features that Mike discussed.
So–without further ado–here are my experiences with a CRM system and the actual benefits that our marketing and sales departments have experienced with the integration that we have.
1. Bi-Directional Synchronization
This is a necessity at the most basic level of your CRM integration. This is explained really well in Mike’s post, but basically, you want anything that you update in your CRM to get synchronized (updated) in your Marketing Automation system and vice versa.
How does this help us? Our sales team doesn’t have to worry about updating new information in two places as their relationship with the lead (prospect, opportunity, etc) progresses and our marketing team doesn’t have to add new leads they’ve generated to our CRM (which happens to be Salesforce.com).
Basically, it keeps everyone connected, minimizes confusion and keeps us aligned (plus it makes our lives much simpler and easier). It also helps us jump on hot opportunities faster and track the success of the leads we generate more readily.
2. Activity Alerts
This is all about tracking your leads activity history and keeping sales up to date as a lead pushes itself farther through the sales process. How does this help us? When a lead that we’ve passed to our CRM returns to our website, explores it and/or converts on a campaign, it gets updated in our CRM and, if one for those activities is one we’re tracking (because it shows us the lead has progressed through our sales funnel) our sales reps get a message alerting them to the leads behavior.
Basically, we don’t lose track of hot leads and gain the ability act on new information as soon as it occurs giving us a better opportunity to reach out to prospects at the moment that they’re interested.
3. Assign Leads To Sales Reps
If a lead meets certain criteria previously set up in your marketing automation system then when they are passed to your CRM they are automatically assigned to a sales rep.
How does this help us? There is no confusion or questioning about who should follow up with who. Each rep gets the leads that are appropriate for his follow up (based on our predetermined specifications) simplifying and speeding up our follow up process with new leads.
4. Campaign Integration
Many CRM systems are able to track your marketing campaigns allowing you to tie campaigns to revenue. How is this helpful to us? This might seem like a no-brainer, but actually being able to track the revenue generated by certain campaign is invaluable in terms of judging which marketing efforts are the most successful.
Optimization is a constant process, and without knowing what works and what doesn’t, it’s extremely difficult to improve.
5. Campaign Triggers
This is part of the lead nurturing process and helps you to keep engaged with leads and prospects. Based on a lead/prospects activity or behavior or changes which take place within the CRM system (which are then passed to your marketing automation system) lead nurturing campaigns can be triggered.
How does this help us? Well, for one thing, it keeps us front of mind with our leads or prospects no matter what stage of the buying cycle they’re in, and it allows us to build relationships over time-based on our contacts wants and behaviors.
6. Send Leads Based On Campaign Rule/ Score
I’ve put both of these features in the same bracket since they are quite similar in terms of benefits. Basically, if one of your prospects completes a specific action in a campaign or reaches a specific lead score (previously determined by you), they are sent through the CRM to sales reps.
How does this help us? This is another step in the simplification process. It keeps leads from getting lost, sends them to the appropriate sales rep for quick follow up and ensures that “hot leads” (ones that reach a high lead score or complete a particularly relevant step in a campaign) are brought to the attention of sales.
The other two features that we find especially helpful that weren’t mentioned in the post directly are:
7. De-Duplication Of Leads
This is important during the bi-directional synchronization process and really should be a standard feature in any CRM integration. Inevitably at some point in time, you are going to get someone who registers on your website who is already in your CRM system or who your sales team adds in your CRM who has already registered on your website.
Because of this, it’s important that when your CRM system talks to your marketing automation system and vice versa, they de-duplicate these leads.
How does this help us? It ensure that our database and CRM system is as clean as possible and helps to make sure that our sales reps have the most up-to-date information on a lead. It’s really unfortunate when a sales rep follows up with a lead thinking he has current information only to later find a more recent lead with a variety of new information which might have been useful during a sales call or meeting.
8. Lead Activity History
This is already mentioned within the Activity Alerts section (without activity history it would be difficult to have activity alerts set up) but I just wanted to mention it again for emphasis. When a lead is passed from your marketing automation system to your CRM, it should be passed with all of the leads activity history (everything action they have taken on your website).
How is this helpful? This isn’t just important for activity alerts. It’s crucial for sales to have the most information that they can gather about a lead prior to initiating a conversation.
Having a complete activity history in your CRM helps sales reps get a view of the entire background of a lead helping them have a more relevant conversation with them, and it also helps you optimize your content mapping process by helping you get a more accurate depiction of which content leads seek out and certain stages of the buying process.
The Bottom Line: Essential CRM Integrations
These are by no means the only features you need in a CRM integration, and, depending on how you’re going to be using your CRM and marketing automation systems, you may not need all of these features.
When choosing the marketing automation system that is right for your organization make sure you start the process off by having a clear view of exactly what you want to be able to do with your integration and then choosing a product based on those specifications. Getting more than you need can be almost as frustrating as getting less.