This article is written for CMOs that are looking for the most efficient use of the CRM that would deliver quick but steady revenue growth and reduce friction between Marketing and Sales.
According to Grand View Research, the CRM market is expected to reach over $80 billion in revenue by 2025 (Grandview research). From small businesses to huge corporations like Wells Fargo, companies are increasingly adopting SaaS software for Customer Relationship Management to establish better processes in both sales and marketing.
As the adoption of CRM continues to grow, users become savvier with the different functionality and integrations the platform of their choice has to offer. This in turn means that organisations sticking to older CRM platforms are at a huge disadvantage as new, strategy-driven practices continue to emerge and shape the business landscape.
In this article, we will be talking about CRM practices that are effective in 2021 and how to apply them.
What is a CRM and Why Do You Need It?
Before we start, let’s refresh what a CRM is and what its key functions are.
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management and it’s a piece of software that stores information about your prospects and customers; their contact details and their interactions with your business. All data is stored in an easy-to-access location and can be accessed in real-time by almost anyone in your company. Some of the most popular CRMs are HubSpot, Salesforce and Pipedrive.
This tool can be used for streamlining sales processes, tracking customer activity, growing sales, improving customer satisfaction and optimising interactions with prospects and customers. Although originally created as an aid to sales, nowadays CRM is also used for leveraging marketing efforts, running marketing campaigns, monitoring social media and creating clear alignment between the departments.
CRM Practices for a Lead-Driving Inbound Marketing Strategy
Whether you’re successful in it or not will largely depend on how you use the CRM outside sales. For example, Trusted Shops used HubSpot CRM for creating valuable, high-conversion-rate content that would rest on custom-made landing pages and then nurturing leads with workflows and email automation. This resulted in a 200x increase of leads.
Another example would be Casio UK, which has been using CRM software for sales only, whereas the marketing team would rely on a marketing automation platform. This created a gap in communication between the two departments, stripping Casio UK of a clear view of the customer’s journey.
Adopting HubSpot CRM allowed them to establish seamless communication between Sales and Marketing, therefore within a year increasing lead generation by 496% and revenue by 26% proving that HubSpot CRM is also a great marketing tool.
In other words, implementing the usage of CRM solutions as part of an inbound marketing strategy is highly effective in driving impressive results within a short period of time. Let’s explore what are three key areas for CRM use in marketing in 2021.
Establishing a Two-way Customer Conversation
The telling trait of bad marketing is your communications being one-sided. The approach where all your efforts are focused on keywords, SERPs ranking and metrics will never deliver the desired results or sustainable growth. The reason is simple - it’s missing the key component of the inbound strategy: the customer. In other words, while you reach out to your potential audience, you don’t engage in a conversation with them after they come to you.
Consumer behaviour is changing all the time. Learning what your audience needs, what challenges they face and how your product makes their lives easier can only be achieved through an ongoing conversation. There are numerous ways of starting one, but to keep it going you need to know who you are talking to or else you won’t know how to communicate with them. This is where the CRM system comes in handy.
Data collected through chatbots, social listening, feedback, surveys and other customer interactions with you are centralised in a CRM. Analysing it will provide you with valuable insights that enable tailoring a personalised approach to how you can engage with the audience on their terms to build a relationship.
Utilising Lead-capturing Assets
The use of marketing automation tools is not a novelty and while they may seem similar to CRMs, their functions and purposes served are different. As we have seen in an example with Casio UK, often companies employ them as a separate piece of software to be used by the marketing team, while the sales get a CRM. However, nowadays there are a few CRMs that offer seamless integration of marketing platforms and tools - for example, HubSpot.
HubSpot CRM has a wide range of lead-capturing assets, templates to choose from and flexibility to customise heavily. Forms, landing pages, CTAs, pop-ups - just to name a few. These components allow the marketing team to create a personalised approach to lead generation and deploy the assets without needing assistance from the developers.
Once a lead is generated, it is automatically added to the CRM. HubSpot has a great feature that allows you to track every interaction the contact has with your website from the moment they are in the database. Every time they provide additional information about themselves, their information gets updated. This has two key benefits: insights collected enable further optimisation of communication with the audience via assets and streamline the process of lead validation.
Mastering Email Segmentation, Sequencing and Automation
Some claim that email marketing is dead, but the numbers tell us otherwise. However, the way email marketing is approached has changed in accordance with changes in user behaviour. What makes it tricky is that everyone is flooded with emails daily, and the first challenge is to get your recipient to open the mail. This is where CRM comes into play.
‘Push’ selling is not a way forward as people don’t want to be sold to - they want to be educated. Therefore the goal is to create a personal and empathetic connection with your prospects to better sell and service them by teaching them.
The two previously described CRM uses, give you the data upon which you can tailor email sequences based on the information you have about your leads. Personalised automated email sequences can move people through the entire buyer’s journey down the sales pipeline by deepening the relationship with your prospect solely through the content you send them. In other words, using your CRM to interact with your leads through email automation is an effective way of nurturing them into prospects that can then be passed on to the sales team.
CRM Practices for B2B Sales That Build Relationships
Similarly to marketing, sales need to prioritise delivering value and building relationships over forcing products and services onto their prospects. According to HubSpot statistics, 94% of consumers have discontinued communications with a company because of irrelevant promotions or messages.
CRM is natively a contact management tool that’s been created to support the sales team and there is no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to its functionality. However, adopting certain practices such as using it for sales process optimisation can improve your relationship with the customer and, in turn, elevate your sales results.
The job of the sales team does not end with the deal closed or being unsuccessful, as is a common belief. CRM provides the ability to investigate what steps of the sales process need to be improved and post-deal (successful or not) follow-up communication is another way of deepening the relationship.
Numbers don’t lie: 60% of customers say ‘no’ four times before saying yes. The problem? 48% of salespeople never make a single follow-up attempt.
Aligning to the Marketing Team
Misalignment of the sales and marketing teams is one of the biggest pain points of business. As we’ve mentioned, 94% of consumers will walk away from you due to irrelevant messaging on your behalf. Since leads are passed to the sales from marketing, who have spent time nurturing them, the communication to establish your approach is aligned.
A unified CRM platform that’s used by both departments for tailoring messaging, providing customer support and handling communication creates seamless workflows and consistent messaging. The teams can easily track what the other is doing, this way ensuring their actions are neither contradicting one another nor are repetitive. With full visibility, both departments work towards common goals within the sales process and converting customers.
For example, assessing all the customer data collected through the lead nurturing process in one place as it’s passed to the sales team can speed up the process of lead validation. Alternatively, knowing the exact pain points of each contact allows for tailoring a highly personal, effective pitch that addresses the challenges the prospect is trying to overcome.
All in all, both departments using the same CRM improves the alignment between sales and marketing as they have full visibility of one another’s actions.
Making Yourself Easily Approachable
The key challenge of sales is to get attention and build the case for an appointment. With that said, scheduling the appointment should not be difficult. The use of a CRM makes booking appointments incredibly easy for both parties: the salesperson and the prospect because many platforms offer meeting links you can send by email.
Most CRMs on the market such as Keap and HubSpot allow the prospect to access your availability and book a slot based on the date and time that’s best for them. This approach saves time by not having to exchange back-and-forth emails that can sometimes result in a lead going cold. 30-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first, and therefore if your competition beats you in setting the appointment, you risk losing a deal.
Using a CRM appointment scheduling function also saves you from double-booking appointments. To make it even easier, you can add a link to your calendar scheduler in an email signature, therefore making yourself accessible to prospects at their convenience.
Prioritising the Customer Over a Sale
When speaking of email automation, we’ve touched upon a fact that customers today don’t want to be sold to. While sales and revenue are at the core of the sales position, the aim should be a long-term customer relationship, not a quick win. This in turn means that the focus should be a value transfer and not a product push.
You can’t provide value unless you understand your potential customer. Prior to reaching out, you need to understand the industry, possible needs, gaps and how your product or service fits into all that.
Using a powerful CRM, such as HubSpot, can make it easier to anticipate challenges that may come up during the sales process as well as pain points more effectively. It will allow matching existing data you have on the prospects against lookalike customers, therefore giving you a clearer picture of how to position your value proposition.
CRM for Customer Success
When a salesperson disappears right after the sale, it looks disingenuous. The work that’s been put into building a relationship by both, marketing and sales departments, goes to waste unless it’s maintained after.
Keep the communication flowing by providing a constant stream of relevant information in order to delight the customer. All in all, you want them to succeed and therefore become not just a long-term client but also an advocate of your brand. Additionally, satisfied and loyal customers that know you never fail to drive value are more likely to invest further into your solutions.
All in all, continue using the CRM practices we’ve described here as part of your strategy when talking to the client post-deal. Keep adding value to their experience with you, building further trust and strengthening the relationship.
Adopting CRM as a tool that’s used across both marketing and sales enables thorough implementation of the Inbound Methodology in which you seek to Attract, Engage and Delight your customers. As opposed to the funnel approach, this model is shaped as a cycle that’s to be repeated - referred to as ‘the Flywheel’.
The CRM platform reduces friction between the sales and marketing teams, streamlining their communication and therefore improving the performance of each individually. The use of CRM makes the process of identifying specific customer needs easier, as well as addressing them in a timely, personalised manner. Overall, a CRM allows the company to become more customer-centric as opposed to sales-centric, which in turn is what drives business growth.
At the end of the day, it’s not salespeople and not marketers that make companies successful: it’s the loyal, happy customers.
If you already have or are considering a CRM and/or are looking to move to HubSpot, please feel free to reach out to our team of experts for advice and guidance and check out our case studies which give examples of our work.