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Expert Interview Series: Alessandra Ceresa of GreenRope

Alessandra Ceresa is the content strategist of GreenRope and manages and creates all content for both their blog, outreach, content contributions and lead nurturing strategies. She has been named a “Woman Who Means Business” for multiple consecutive years.

We recently checked in with Alessandra to get her advice for businesses on shopping for CRM solutions. Here’s what she had to say:

Tell us about GreenRope. What services do you offer?

GreenRope is what we like to call a Complete CRM and marketing automation platform. We offer a full suite of sales and marketing tools to help business, both large and small, streamline their sales, marketing, and operations. GreenRope comes fully stacked with ticketing and event management as well. It really is a one stop shop for businesses looking to integrate their data and increase engagement with their leads and clients. On top of offering a powerful sales and marketing platform, we offer creative services, marketing strategy, SEO and custom training. We want to help our clients succeed, and your software is just part of the picture. We like to fill in the blanks.

Why is it exciting to be working in CRM And marketing automation today?

The industry is constantly evolving. I’ve never seen technology grow and change so quickly. It is fun to watch businesses transform as they start to implement CRM and marketing automation. When a company really invests in their implementation, you can see how it starts to really change their process and start to deliver results.

Platforms like ours really help business compete with their larger competitors. It levels out the playing field, because now they are able to nurture leads, employ automation, develop better relationships with contacts, and much more. For me, it’s exciting to see how businesses are becoming so much more efficient and growing because of their CRM and marketing automation implementations.

What are the most common problems or frustrations you find companies have about making enterprise software purchases?

The most common issue I see arise is the organization not truly identifying their goals for CRM and marketing automation implementation. It could not be more important to truly understand your pain points and how technology is going to transform a business to solve those pain points. The next frustration I see is organizations not involving their entire team in the process. Successful implementation takes buy in from the entire team.

Where should companies start when evaluating their software needs? What questions should they ask themselves?

The first thing a company needs to do is think about their current process and how they’d like improve it with their new software.

One, define your process. How do you follow up with leads? How do you currently obtain leads? What information do you need from your leads to personalize your messaging? All of these questions are really important, because they will determine how you setup and execute your CRM and marketing automation strategy.

Companies also need to determine the needs of each department. Each department is going to have different needs, yet they all need to be able to access the information they need when they need it to do their jobs better. Understand your needs, evaluate the software that meets your needs, and try it out.

Another tip? Find an integrated solution. When you try and piece together too many different platforms, you run the risk of losing data to creating more steps than you even had before.

What type of homework do you wish more of your clients did?

Again, determining their process. You have to know what you want to accomplish before you invest in technology. I wish they would sit down with their team and identify pain points, how they see their process evolving and what tools they need to get there.

Of course, they are going to discover more capabilities along the way, but I wish more companies had a starting point. When I work with clients, we always start with a discovery call, so we can get down to the nitty gritty and identify their pain points, goals and solutions.

Once you identify goals, you can find out more about the features and capabilities that exist to help you reach them. For example, if you want to become a more data-driven company, then you need a platform that supports using data for segmentation and more advanced marketing efforts. You might also want to look for a platform with predictive analytics. Know what you want, have a vision, execute.

What types of conversations do you like to have with potential customers about their needs and how you can help them?

The first conversation I have with any of our clients is what I like to call our discovery call. In this discovery call I cover a number of different questions. Here are a few:

1. What is your current process? How are you currently obtaining and nurturing your leads?
2. What are your current marketing efforts? PPC? Social? Email Marketing?
3. What is your target market and who are your buyer personas?
4. How are your contacts currently organized? What information do you usually collect about your leads/clients?

All of these questions are really important when developing your CRM and marketing automation strategy. It will determine how you group contacts, your user-defined fields, how you market to them and more. At GreenRope, we first take the time to learn about the business and then proceed with our best solutions.

What advice do you find yourself repeating to potential customers about shopping for the best software solutions for their business?

Find a solution that can grow with you. Do not go for the cheapest, chances are the features are limited and as you grow will need to switch solutions again. Look for a solution with training and great support.

CRM is new to a lot of businesses and it’s so important to train the entire staff on how to navigate the new technology they are supposed to use on a daily basis. People will use what they are comfortable with. Training and great support will make sure they are comfortable with the system and how it helps improve their everyday lives.

What types of questions should companies be asking potential vendors about their software?

The first in obvious: capabilities. What features does the platform have? Do they have all of the necessary features and do they work they way you’d like to see them implemented? Ask about support? Also, take a look at the features you won’t use right away, but might in the future. You want a system that is going to grow with you, not one you have to abandon for another, more sophisticated platform.

What are the benefits to organizations of finding the right software solutions?

It can make or break your CRM and marketing automation implementation! Choosing the right platform means your company and team can be more productive, collaborate more and do their jobs better. The wrong platform can stifle a business, frustrate your team, and render itself useless. Now you’ve wasted both time and money that could have been spent on the right platform.

What are the risks of making uninformed enterprise software purchases?

Again, if you do not know what your goals are for implementing a software, there is a good chance you are going to choose the wrong vendor. The biggest risk is failure, which I have seen a lot of in this industry.

Small businesses go with the “best in show,” realize they cannot afford the training, they didn’t get buy in from their team, and are now stuck with an overly expensive system that no one actually knows how to use or what it’s for. That is a lot of time and money wasted.

It is so important to understand your vendors capabilities, as well as their commitment to their customers. Choose a company that is going to work with you, like a partner. Implementing a CRM should be an exciting time for a business.

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