Ah, customer relationship management--also known as "CRM." Sounds so big, so impressive, so...overwhelming. Sure, you want to manage your customer relationships properly, but do you really need CRM software to help you do it?
The answer is yes. Today's CRM software can integrate nicely with websites, creating a seamless "capture" of site visitors who convert into leads and, eventually, customers.
In addition to streamlining the sales process, CRM software also provides a treasure trove of information. At a glance, CRMs tell you...
However, some companies have failed to adequately combine their website and their CRM software.
CRM integration is a technique where a website is programmed in a way that allows it to feed information directly into the CRM software. The benefits of this are immediate and obvious: employees are no longer required to manually enter information about customers.
Instead, they can watch as the system automatically produces reports based on the criteria they set and spend more of their time following up on leads and working to maximize your sales.
Information is the core of the entire inbound marketing strategy. That said, all the information in the world is meaningless if you don't have a way of measuring, using, and responding to it. The website is what acquires the information, while the CRM software is what interprets the information and helps you decide what to do next.
Before you rush off to install CRM software, you need to have an integration plan. Here's what to keep in mind.
1. Demo several CRM products before committing. Not all CRMs are created equal. You need to find the right CRM software that's a good fit for your particular business.
2. Take a look at your current channels for inbound marketing. This means your website, your social media accounts, and anything else you may be using to attract customers. Ideally, you'll be able to integrate all of them into a single CRM system. Only purchase and run multiple suites if you absolutely must.
3. Spend some time defining your data criteria. This should include how you'll grade clients and how different teams within your organization should respond. These systems work most effectively when everyone is informed and understands the role they're playing in your overall sales plan.
4. Start with clean data! If you're migrating data from an older system or something a bit more manual (think Excel spreadsheets), you'll want to clean up your data before you upload it to the new system. Data "hygiene" is extremely important.
5. Get buy-in from your people. A CRM is only as good as the data in it AND the people responding to and adding to that data. Sales people in particular should be encouraged to keep their records up-to-date and accurate. For example, once the lead enters the CRM, if a sales person follows up via email, that interaction should be recorded in the CRM (the best CRM software will allow you to send the email from the CRM itself).
Note: as a rule, people hate change, and new systems can often feel overwhelming, at first. Be proactive. Alert your teams about the CRM adoption as far out as you can. Provide initial training. Once the CRM launches, continue to provide help sessions until everyone is comfortable. Create incentives and reward those who do a good job with the CRM right out of the gate.
Does your organization use a CRM? What other advice can you offer to businesses that are thinking of integrating a CRM with their company website? Share in the comments.