Your Guide to Software Selection

How CRM Helps Improve Sales

Whether you’re a Fortune 500 powerhouse or a small business looking to make a mark on your industry, you can benefit from CRM software. To get a clear idea of how valuable a CRM would be for your business, you need to understand how CRM helps improve sales.

Sure, a CRM gives you things like automation and real-time data. But it can do so much more. Companies are recognizing this, and seeing the value in using CRMs well beyond improved efficiency and customer satisfaction.

In 2017, Gartner reported that CRM became the largest software market. The upward trend has only continued since then, and the market’s expected to reach a mind-boggling $80 billion by 2025.

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With so many companies large and small turning to CRM, you can’t afford to get left behind. Especially considering that CRM solutions contribute to the foundational goal of every business: increasing profits.

Let’s dive in and find out how!

What Is CRM?

CRM (customer relationship management) does exactly what it says — it’s a system that helps companies manage their relationships with customers. The list of things a CRM contributes to your marketing, sales and customer service is like the Yellow Brick Road in Oz … it goes on and on:

  • Generate and nurture leads
  • Close sales
  • Monitor customer data
  • Streamline tasks
  • Build a killer sales pipeline
  • Respond to customer needs
  • Manage marketing campaigns

When it comes to your company’s potential and existing customers, CRMs handle anything you throw at them. Here’s a rundown of the key requirements you’ll find in CRM tools:

So, CRM systems are pretty great. Now it’s time to answer the question, “How does CRM help sales?”

How CRM Helps Sales Grow Like Jack’s Beanstalk

Let’s look closer at some of the main benefits of CRM and how CRM helps in sales.

How CRM Helps SalesBuild and Pursue the Right Leads

Lead generation is the starting point for the sales cycle — and CRM software. After all, you can’t build and maintain connections with customers unless you first find leads.

But like buying a car, you don’t just want any leads you can find. You want the right kind of leads.

Marketing and sales are closely aligned on that goal. The marketing department generates leads and coaxes them through the funnel, and then it’s up to the sales people to convert those opportunities.

Sounds simple enough, but it’s harder to put into practice. You need to make sure you’re collecting leads from your ideal target market. Otherwise, your sales reps are wasting their time. One study found that half of your prospects won’t be a good fit, so it’s in your best interest to make sure your lead quality is as high as possible.

To illustrate, if your target clients are realtors, there’s no point in bringing in leads who are lawyers. Of course, every target group has a qualified periphery that you shouldn’t overlook. In this example, that may include lenders, developers and interior designers.

Lead management, a central component of CRM software, plays a key role in producing high-quality leads. It uses features like lead scoring, categorization and tracking to effectively manage your sales pipeline.

Mothernode CRM Leads and Opportunities

CRMs make it easy to organize and track leads.

Once leads are in the system, it’s easy to track their progress so your sales reps can step in when a lead is primed and ready, rather than jumping the gun and missing an opportunity. HubSpot research reveals that 60 percent of buyers prefer to talk to sales people during the consideration stage.

Lead ranking lets the sales team know which leads they need to prioritize, so they can plan their schedules accordingly. This leads to better resource allocation, since they can target the leads that are most likely to convert.

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Get the Right Info at the Right Time

Wherever your sales people are — whether emailing contacts or pounding the pavement and meeting with prospects — they need quick, easy access to sales content and lead data.

The typical CRM solution offers mobile apps to support the constant demand for data from anywhere. A CRM database stores every bit of information about your leads in a single location, making it as easy to get to as the ice cream in the freezer.

Create Better Teamwork

Your marketing and sales departments are primarily the ones driving revenue. When both teams can collaborate efficiently, your business will thrive.

Salesforce Chatter

Teams can work more effectively with a collaboration app like this one.

Sales people have a lot of data to track. Implementing a CRM solution can help the marketing department maximize the data the sales team enters. When marketing has clear insight into what encourages leads to buy and where in the sales process they tend to duck out, they can develop campaigns that are more effective at attracting customers.

CRMs also help streamline your processes and keep everyone on the same page thanks to:

  • Calendar integrations: Get full visibility into call schedules so the sales team takes advantage of availability and avoids double-booking.
  • VoIP capabilities: Manage outbound and inbound calls, as well as automatically log call information so sales managers can quickly view the results for each sales rep.
  • Templates: Use templates for emails and documents to make work more efficient.

Finally, a CRM keeps a running account of customer interactions. No matter where someone is — from a top-of-the-funnel lead to a newly converted customer — your teams can view each contact’s history. This ensures nothing gets lost during the handoff from sales to marketing or any other transition point.

Giving every team a view inside the details of each lead and customer facilitates seamless collaboration throughout the sales pipeline and beyond.

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Improve Customer Experience

Customer experience (CX) is the hot topic when it comes to B2B marketing in 2019. But no matter whether your focus is B2B or B2C, you can’t afford to ignore the vital role CX plays in a winning strategy.

The reason is simple: companies that invest in CX reap the rewards. Increasing customer retention and customer satisfaction are a couple results of providing an exceptional experience for customers.

And when it comes to sales, focusing on the customer is essential. A HubSpot buyer survey revealed the importance of putting the customer front and center. The top choice respondents picked when asked what gives them a good sales experience? Listening to their needs.

Providing a fantastic experience sounds great, right? As with most things that do, there’s a catch.

Delighting customers may sound doable on paper, but reality tends to be a paper shredder. Customers have high expectations and aren’t afraid to leave negative reviews or go on social media to rant about their torturous customer service experience.

Fortunately, CRM software clears a path through today’s market complexities and demands so you can be on top for your customer experience game. Here’s how:

Get to Know Your Customers

Who’s buying from you? What kind of content engages them?

A CRM tells you. Analytics tools give you a clear view into what works and what doesn’t across your campaigns so you can see what resonates.

CRMs also let you get to know your customers far beyond surface interactions. You can record your findings within the system, and each contact becomes more than a profile name as you add details about their business, struggles and goals. Building this relationship lets you serve them better and help them succeed.

With social media integrations, you gain even deeper insight. CRM tools give you a window into what potential and existing customers are talking about, gather customer data and track which leads enter the funnel via your social media channels.

Target the Right People With the Right Offers

People are stubborn. It takes several interactions with a brand before we’re likely to reach for the credit card. Marketers counteract this by bombarding us with ads, commercials, offers, website pop-ups — anything they can do to grab our attention to build credibility and awareness.

Because of that, we’ve been saturated to the point of drowning in all the marketing  messages. That makes personalization paramount. Like it or not, consumers still need marketing to help direct their buying decisions. The key is to make sure you target the right people.

CRMs have several tools that help you do that:

  • Customer targeting: Segment your contacts into categories.
  • Email marketing: Build campaigns and define which segments receive which campaigns. For example, you could send a lead nurture campaign to everyone who downloads a free eBook from your website.
  • Campaign analysis: Monitor how each campaign performs and make adjustments for future campaigns.
BPM Online Marketing Email Workflow

Example of an email campaign workflow in a CRM.

Stay on Top of Customer Requests

We’ve all been there: annoyed to death at the wait for customer support to finally respond to our issue. It feels like we could whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies, drop a package off at the post office, give the dog a bath, fix the leaky sink and run a half marathon while we wait.

A CRM system offers case management so you can mitigate this delay. Notifications alert you when customers raise issues. And you also get better task management. You can quickly add or delete tasks, as well as organize tasks based on their priority so the most important tickets bubble to the surface for immediate attention.

Another helpful feature is automation. It cuts down on the chance for human error, so fewer customer requests slip through the cracks into the same dark abyss where socks go after they’re washed.

A good experience leads to customer satisfaction. And happy customers will stay loyal, buy more and refer others.

Respond Faster

Email capabilities are a common feature of CRM software. These integrations make it easier to reply in a timely fashion. Some CRM systems also offer live chat, so your team can work to solve customer problems or answer questions immediately.

Prompt responses before people convert to customers are another critical element. One study discovered that when you reply is crucial. Responding first to potential customers impacts how many opportunities you convert, to the tune of 50 percent of sales. And HubSpot research revealed that 51 percent of buyers considered a timely response as a key part of creating a positive experience.

Rock Your Data Management

Do you have a process for controlling the loads of customer data flowing through your business? If not, you need to start. Like, yesterday.

Jotting notes down on a legal pad or tracking lead info in a spreadsheet used to be enough to get the job done. Not anymore. Even if you’re a small business, you can benefit from the powerful tools a CRM offers to manage your data.

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Contact management is a main feature of CRM solutions. It lets you compile and organize all your information in a single location. Your marketing team doesn’t need to dig through piles of paper to find the list of leads a sales rep scribbled at a tradeshow. No matter who needs access to the information, it’s stored in a central database that keeps everything neat and tidy.

Infor CRM Sales Dashboard

View of a sales dashboard in a CRM system.

But CRMs don’t stop at real-time data insights into customers. They provide a comprehensive view of the sales pipeline, letting sales managers see where every deal stands. And they also reveal individual and team performance.

Dashboards can aggregate data into visuals like graphs and charts so you have complete visibility into the metrics you care about.

  • How many opportunities did your sales people convert in the first quarter?
  • Which sales reps are being the most productive?
  • How many deals are in the works?
  • Which region shows the greatest potential?
  • How did your last email marketing campaign perform?

With your data organized in a CRM system, you’ll never have to play the guessing game. Make informed decisions backed by data, which creates a stronger overall strategy for your business.

Save Time and Money

Sales people should focus on getting face time (or phone time) with prospects. Their job description is to make money — not deal with tedious objectives and manual data entry. If they’re stuck doing that, they’re going to lose potential revenue, and that doesn’t help anyone.

The ideal CRM system will automate time-consuming admin tasks, freeing up sales managers to be more effective and productive with their time. And taking repetitive activities off the plates of your sales people lets them focus on increasing profits.

Automation also reduces the chances of human error. Perhaps the biggest benefit, however, is cutting down on the cost and time involved in closing the sale.

You can’t grow without bringing in new customers, but low conversion rates lead to higher acquisition costs. Selling to your customer base is much more cost-effective and balances out the expense of converting leads.

SugarCRM Activity Stream

A CRM tool like this one provides a view of customers to enhance selling opportunities.

CRM analytics let you identify which customers are good candidates for upsell and cross-sell offers. In addition, you can see potential referrals via features like contact recommendations. And since you’re able to closely monitor each interaction, you can quickly determine which customers to reach out and when the best timing is.

The right CRM helps your company cut costly mistakes (both in terms of time and money), so you can reduce expenses, while providing features that optimize your selling to boost revenue. What’s not to love?

Say Hello to Easy Reporting

How many leads did your company generate per region last quarter? If you don’t know the answer, or don’t have clear insight on performance and results for your key metrics, chances are you need reporting capabilities.

One major advantage of a CRM platform is that it keeps your entire organization in the know. It’s one thing for a sales manager to know what the conversion rate is for SQLs, but business leaders need that information in order to accurately shape the company’s strategy.

CRM software provides reporting features so no one’s left in the dark on exactly how you’re doing for each KPI. Not only that, it makes generating those reports as simple as making your morning cup of coffee.

Questions to Ask as You Evaluate CRM Software

CRM software is powerful. But it’s only useful if it you can use it in a way that meets your requirements.

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To that end, here are some questions you should keep in mind as you search for the right CRM solution for your company:

Can the software meet your needs? For this, you need to look beyond the basics. Maybe it checks your boxes, but you need to know how it’ll function in real-world scenarios.

How scalable is the solution? Your goal is to grow your business, so picking a system that can’t keep up will backfire eventually. Investing in new software isn’t cheap — do your business a favor and make sure you don’t have to do it multiple times because of poor planning.

Is cloud or on-premise deployment better for your company? This depends on a variety of factors, including whether you’re replacing a current CRM, the level of accessibility you need and how much customization you want.

Is it user-friendly? No point investing in a system that makes everyone’s life harder. Look for intuitive user interfaces and simple design that helps everyone get up to speed quickly and fades into the background so users can focus on their work.

Will it play well with your other business tools? CRM integration with systems like ERP and business intelligence will give you a more robust solution. So make sure you’ll be able to integrate it with key platforms and other tools such as email.

What’s the overall price tag? This can be deceptive. Watch for things like advanced features you need but that cost extra, plans that don’t include software upgrades without additional costs and charges for exceeding your storage limits (for cloud solutions).

Compare CRM Pricing & Costs with our Pricing Guide

How will you move your current CRM data into the new system? Unless you don’t have a CRM, you’ll need to ensure that you can load all your existing data automatically. Because no one has time to spend days on manual entry.

For cloud-based platforms, how does the vendor handle security? You can’t afford to compromise your data. Be sure the vendor has proper security and backup plans in place to keep your precious information safe.

Does the vendor cater to a certain market size? If you’re a small business, you likely don’t need all the capabilities — and accompanying price — of a product targeted at enterprise companies. On the flip side, a large organization would find CRMs built for SMBs too limiting.

Is the software best-of-breed or part of a larger suite? Getting a CRM that’s integrated into suite may be valuable. But with a vendor that specializes in CRM, you’ll likely get deeper knowledge and enhanced functionality since they can focus their entire effort on a single product.

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Next Steps

The right CRM is like a rocket that can blast your sales sky high. It improves productivity, gives you a 360-degree view, increases revenue, helps retain loyal customers and more.

Your journey to CRM implementation starts with finding the right product for your needs. To help you out, we put together a free CRM comparison report that lets you evaluate vendors. With reviews, ratings and pricing, you can more easily determine which systems are a suitable fit for your business.

Your customers deserve the best. A CRM will equip you with the tools you need to make it possible.

How would CRM software help improve sales at your company? Let us know in the comments!

Zachary TotahHow CRM Helps Improve Sales

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