5 Ways a CRM Helps Streamline Your Sales Process

5 Ways a CRM Helps Streamline Your Sales Process

5 Ways a CRM Helps Streamline Your Sales Process

Looking to streamline your sales process? It is an integral component of your business’ success. If your sales team has trouble selling efficiently, you’re going to see your company growth drop, which isn’t good for anyone. 

In general, sales reps spend a significant amount of time on admin work — scheduling meetings, setting up reminders, sending emails, and other small tasks that take serious time out of their day that they could be spending closing deals. 

So, how can you streamline your sales process in a way that all of that admin work still gets done, but your sales team has the time they need to close deals? For many companies, a CRM, or Customer Relationship Management software, is the answer. 

Here at Evenbound, we’re big fans of HubSpot, but you might also have heard of other popular options like Pardot and Salesforce. While some options are better than others, the general purpose of a CRM is to make it easier for your sales team to foster positive relationships with all of the leads who come into your sales cycle and eliminate a lot of the busywork that keeps them from closing.

Here are just 5 of the top ways a CRM helps streamline your sales process. 

#1 Streamline Marketing to Sales Handoff Process

For most companies, the handoff from marketing to sales is where leads fall through the cracks. Whether your sales and marketing teams aren’t communicating or your sales team is just too busy to follow up on all the leads marketing sends over, it’s easy, and common for leads to fall out of the sales funnel during the handoff from marketing to sales. 

A CRM can solve the majority of these sales dropoff problems. 

The first fix is to notify your sales team. When the marketing team decides a lead is ready to move up to sales, a CRM can automatically alert your sales team of the move. This is a great way to eliminate lost leads who drop out of the cycle because no one contacts them.

The next fix is to help your sales team see immediately if that lead is actually ready for your sales team or not. A CRM shows your sales team exactly where a lead is in the buying process. The CRM will track every contact marketing has with that lead, giving the sales team a good idea of how warm the lead is, and how ready they are to buy. 

This makes it easy for your sales reps to see at a glance whether a lead is ready for them, or if they’d rather send them back down to marketing. 

And with a quality CRM, transferring that lead back down to marketing is a snap. Your sales rep just reassigns or recategorizes the lead, and they’re back in marketing’s “to nurture” bucket. 

For many companies, a significant percentage of marketing leads do not convert to sales. This is partially handled with sales and marketing alignment, but a CRM is also a very useful tool to make no one is losing track of those leads. 

Implementing a quality CRM not only helps make sure those leads get through the sales process, but it helps bring your sales and marketing teams together, and understand better what both teams need to effectively reach their goals.

#2 CRMs Increase Prospect Visibility in the Sales Funnel

Your sales team is busy. There’s no getting around it. As long as your marketing team is delivering leads, your sales team is busy contacting them all, establishing which of your products or service is the best fit for each and then getting through the actual nurturing and closing process. A CRM streamlines your sales process by offering greater visibility on all of those prospects in the sales funnel. 

CRMs make it easy to see where every prospect is in the sales funnel, at any given time. If your sales team is managing their leads with a post-it note system, a notebook, or any other method, they’re probably letting leads drop out of the sales funnel. And it’s not their fault — we’re all only human! 

But, a CRM can help resolve this problem, and make it easy for your sales team to prioritize the warmest leads above leads who still need a bit of nurturing. 

  • Organize leads by priority. Most quality CRMs allow you to segment leads based on how qualified they are, and where they are in the sales funnel. When your top-priority leads are listed right at the top of the page, your sales team doesn’t even have to think about who to call first. 
  • See at a glance which leads have been contacted, by who, and when. Another key visibility benefit that comes with a quality CRM is that your sales reps can see at a glance who has contacted what lead, and when. They’ll be able to see which of your resources a lead has already received, and what information they might still need to make a final decision. 

Increased visibility thanks to a quality CRM leads to a more effective, efficient sales process. When your leads are automatically organized by industry, job title, interest level, and more, your sales team can spend more time on what they’re best at — closing deals. 

#3 Automated Tasks Help Streamline Your Sales Process

Even though it’s necessary, sending out product catalogs, brochures, and pricing guides is repetitive and time-consuming. Your sales team already knows that they don’t have to reinvent the wheel with every email, but they do have to take the time to copy-paste their text, change the names, attach the documents, and then finally send the email. A CRM can automate these repetitive tasks so your sales team has more time to actually sell. 

Quality CRMs offer tools like automated workflows, follow-up emails, chatbots, and more, so your leads still get the quality service they need to feel nurtured and supported through the sales process, but your sales team is freed up to use their time for more important tasks. 

And for tasks that CRMs can’t automate, they can send automated reminders. Your sales reps have to talk to any contact multiple times before they close a deal. Your CRM can automatically remind sales reps when to make those calls so that no leads fall through the cracks. 

#4 Easy Reporting

No one likes to make reports. What if they didn’t have to? 

Quality CRMs can generate sales reports at the click of a button, so your team can easily see what’s working, and what’s not.

One of the greatest benefits of a CRM for any sales team is the data it has to offer. In addition to supporting your sales team, your CRM is constantly collecting data. Data about your clients, how long they take to close, what content offer brings in the leads most likely to close, and what sales tools are most effective at closing those sales.

All of that data, combined and compiled for you by the CRM, helps you interpret your sales team’s success, and further streamline your sales process for even better results. 

#5 Sales Leaderboards and Productivity Reports

We’re a big proponent of teamwork. As a growth agency, we’ve seen that companies who encourage their sales reps to work together tend to do significantly better than companies with sales reps who are all using different sales tactics, and even different sales processes. 

Advanced CRMs, like HubSpot, are designed to give you and your sales team all of the data you need to optimize and streamline your sales process as a team. Sales leaderboards and productivity reports are one great way to do that.

They show you which of your team members are doing great, and which might be struggling with your new sales process or CRM. You can use these stats to bring your whole team up, by asking those at the top of the leaderboard to share what they’re doing to close so many deals. 

Generating a sales leaderboard and a productivity report also helps give you a better picture of where your reps are spending their time.

Maybe one rep has been spending a ton of time in your CRM, and is super productive, but is low on the leaderboard. This might be an opportunity to show them some more of those automation tools, so they can get out of their inbox, and back on the phone with clients. 

A CRM is designed to organize and store all of your sales team’s information and data in one easy-to-access location. In addition to providing exceptional visibility, a CRM helps streamline your sales process by handling the repetitive tasks that take time out of your team’s day of selling. The goal is to enable your sales team with all the tools they need to be able to sell better, and more efficiently, and when implemented properly, that’s exactly what a CRM does. 

If you’re thinking about a CRM, but aren’t sure how to get started, or are afraid of a lengthy learning curve, get in touch with the Evenbound team. We have team members dedicated to onboarding and training sales reps and marketing teams on how to use the HubSpot CRM effectively, and we’re confident we can help you too. Just take a look at the results we provided for this company in the case study below!

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Inbound Marketing Automation [How to Generate Leads in Your Sleep]

Inbound Marketing Automation [How to Generate Leads in Your Sleep]

Imagine a world where you were generating leads, even while you were offline, away from your desk, and yes, even sleeping.

Believe it or not, it really is possible to generate leads without lifting so much as a finger.

Seriously. No more cold calls. No more knocking on doors. No more elevator pitches. When done properly, you can delegate most of that awkward, uncomfortable and usually frustrating outreach work to your website and your marketing strategy. The solution is marketing automation.

What is Marketing Automation?

Neil Patel says, 'Marketing automation is the process of using software and technology to optimize, automate and measure repetitive online marketing tasks.' Click To Tweet

Basically, it’s the process of using technology to automate marketing tasks that you would otherwise want to do yourself. The computer does it, so you don’t have to.

Most often, we think of marketing automation in the form of email workflows — you have a prospect’s contact information, and they’re sent a series of emails based on the landing pages they’ve viewed and forms they’ve submitted on your website.

Hot Tip: While there are tons of other forms of marketing automation, we’re going to stick with email workflows as our example for this blog, because they’re easy to conceptualize, and because most companies, even SMBs, use some form of email marketing.

While you do have to set up those workflows and optimize them occasionally, once they’re working it’s a set and forget tactic that allows you to generate and nurture leads whenever your leads are cruising your site.

It’s important to note that In the past, there’s been some really terrible marketing automation.

One look at the inbox of your junk email is the perfect example of marketing automation gone wrong. Hundreds of emails shouting at you about sales, last-minute deals, and “just for you” promotions that you really just don’t care about. It’s a nightmare.

While this is an example of marketing automation, it’s not good marketing automation. Tactics like this favor a quantity over quality approach that doesn’t deliver the “qualified leads in your sleep” results you’re looking for.

This is where inbound marketing automation comes in.

What is Inbound Marketing Automation?

Inbound marketing automation is any type of marketing automation tool that is applied with the inbound marketing methodology in mind.

It’s important to remember that inbound is a methodology. It’s a practice and a way of marketing that is actually helpful to your potential clients. The inbound methodology is not a tool.

Marketing automation, however, is a tool you can use to make the inbound marketing methodology come to life.

For example: Inbound methodology tells us that we need to deliver highly relevant, personalized content that answers the questions our leads are asking, even before they ask them. That’s what you’re supposed to do, what inbound methodology dictates.

Inbound marketing automation is the tool that makes that action happen.

Inbound marketing automation allows you to deliver personalized emails to individual leads with content they are likely to be interested in, based on all of their previous interactions with your website and your marketing/sales team.

This ensures the delivery of content with context, fulfilling the inbound consumer’s need for relevant content that answers their questions and solves their challenges. Best of all, it does it while you’re at home still brushing your teeth.

Check out this HubSpot video for a really clear explanation of what inbound marketing automation is, and why it is so effective for today’s consumers.

hubspot-inbound-approach-to-marketing-automation

The Inbound Approach to Marketing Automation

Why Use Inbound Marketing Automation?

Did we mention generating leads in your sleep? Hello, longer lunches and going home on time.

But in all seriousness, marketing automation is a key tool for inbound marketing because the inbound methodology is so customer-focused. Here are a few key ways inbound marketing automation makes your life easier.

Inbound Leads Aren’t Always Ready To Buy

Inbound marketing does a great job of drawing in qualified leads who are a perfect fit for your product or service. But, they’re not always ready to buy.

The inbound methodology puts a heavy focus on developing content that’s suited to leads in all stages of the buyer’s journey, which means you’re going to get a lot of leads in the awareness and consideration phases who will likely need/want your product, but who aren’t ready to buy yet.

Instead of having your sales team hound them with calls and emails, inbound marketing automation offers a simple, effective tool to keep those leads moving through the buyer’s journey.

Your automated workflows can send them relevant, interesting content that speaks to their stage of the buyer’s journey, as well as their particular industry or position, keeping them from dropping out of your sales funnel and moving them closer to a sale.

Inbound Leads Have Diverse Interests and Needs

If you’re one marketing or salesperson, you probably don’t have time to analyze the unique interests of every lead that comes in on your own. This is where technology comes in handy.

With a quality CRM, you can set up workflows and content delivery systems that automatically send the right content to the right leads, at the right time.

You still have to lay a little bit of the groundwork, by telling your CRM which leads fit into which personas, and where they are in the buyer’s journey, but after that, the system can manage that lead on its own.

That saves you thousands of emails, and it provides the leads with a better experience. They’re getting information and content that’s relevant to their experience and their challenges, and you don’t have to work as hard to make it happen.

Inbound Leads are Content Hungry

We’ve talked a lot about the modern consumer. The short version is that today’s consumers are content hungry. They want to watch videos, read reviews, analyze comparison blogs, and truly learn about every product and service they think about buying.

As a sales or marketing person, you don’t have the time to have all of those conversations, and more importantly, your leads don’t want to talk to you yet. The modern consumer wants to do their own research before they’ll even consider giving a company a call or letting them know they’re interested.

Inbound marketing automation solves this dilemma.

You can still deliver great content about your product or service to those qualified leads, without scaring them away or making them feel like you’re being too pushy by using marketing automation.

With inbound marketing automation, your leads are getting the content they need to complete their research, and you don’t have to lift a finger. Even better, by simply handing over the content that your leads want without a whole lot of trouble, you’re earning their trust.

And when you have a lead's trust, and they're ready to buy, they're going to buy from you. Click To Tweet

How You Can Implement Inbound Marketing Automation

Inbound marketing automation has some pretty attractive benefits. But how do you get it, and how do you set it up so you can roll into work at 10 with Starbucks in hand?

The best way to implement inbound marketing automation is to get a CRM. If you don’t have one, check out our blog about what to look for in a CRM, and choose your favorite.

We like HubSpot because it’s really easy to use, it’s less expensive (read: they have a version of the software that is totally free) than many more traditional platforms, like Salesforce, and it’s got all of the tools we like, plus they regularly add new tools when they see a need.

It’s possible to do a bit of marketing automation with an email service, like MailChimp, for example, but if you’re looking for legitimate results, you should really go with a CRM.

If you’re not sure about the process yet, we really recommend the free version of HubSpot. It’s a great way to learn how to implement a little marketing automation, and it’s always free — so you don’t have to worry about spending a lot of money learning a tactic you’re not sure you’ll use.

Once you have your CRM, you can get started with inbound marketing automation.

We’ll explain how to to that in-depth in another blog, but if you’re looking for a how-to right now, check out this page from Neil Patel, this guide from Moz, go back and click on that video we linked above, or just give us a call. We’re always happy to walk you through it.

And if you know you want to use inbound marketing automation, but you don’t want to fiddle with it yourself, we’d love to help.

We use inbound marketing automation every day for ourselves and for our clients, so we’ve gotten pretty good. Whether you’re looking for a little content, a completely new campaign, or even help getting set up in HubSpot, we’ve got the resources to help you. Get in touch.

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6 Key Qualities To Look for In the Perfect CRM

6 Key Qualities To Look for In the Perfect CRM

Whether you’re unhappy with your current CRM, or you’re looking to align your sales and marketing teams with a new one, a quality CRM can be hard to find. We’re here to help.

Traditionally, a CRM, or customer relationship management software has been used to help sales teams track and manage leads through the buyers funnel. Any good CRM that you choose today will do that, along with a whole host of additional services. It’s those extra services that make the difference here. CRMs have been around for so long that tracking, for the most part, is the least of your worries. A new, quality CRM will streamline your sales and marketing handoff, shorten the closing process, and ultimately boost your ROI. If that’s the success you want, here are 6 key qualities to  look for when you’re CRM shopping, to ensure you choose an option that’s perfect for you:

Here are 6 key qualities to look for while you’re CRM shopping, to ensure you choose an option that’s perfect for you:

#1 Easy to Use, Easy to Access

Above all else, a quality CRM should be user-friendly, and accessible from just about anywhere. Today’s sales and marketing teams are on the move — many of them are remote and those that do have an office often work from home or out on the road. They still need to know where their leads are at in the buyers cycle, even when they’re not in the office. A quality CRM will give them that access wherever they log in. Many of today’s top CRMs are cloud-based, and that’s a quality option you simply can’t pass up.

Beyond accessibility, any CRM that’s worth purchasing should be easy to use. If your sales team finds it a hassle to log a lead, they’re less likely to enter them in, which means a greater chance that they’ll forget about them. Choose a CRM that’s interface makes sense and is simple. It might sound ancillary, but even little things like drag and drop features and push notifications can make a big difference to the efficiency of your employees’ use of your CRM. The easier it is, the more likely they are to use it, and the more they use the platform, the easier it is to track your results for effective sales.

#2 Integrates Sales and Marketing

We don’t want to hate on any particular CRM, but Salesforce is a platform of the past. Your sales team simply cannot exist in a bubble if you want to boost ROI and turn a real profit. You need a CRM that works across departments, easily transferring marketing leads over to your sales team, and kicking leads who aren’t quite ready to purchase back to the marketing team. A quality CRM will also help keep both teams informed, ensuring you have that closed-loop reporting that will guarantee a successful collaboration between both teams.

There are CRMs that offer sales features, and easily partner or link up to marketing CRMs, but if you’re just starting out, you’ll want to get a CRM that offers both simultaneously. With features for both teams already implemented in the software, you can easily get your sales & marketing teams up and running, reporting their potential leads and transferring them to the appropriate contacts at the right time, without getting lost in translation.

#3 Real-Time, Big Picture Reporting

The best CRM will let you know how your team is doing with accurate, global reporting. After all, you can’t improve if you don’t know what you’re doing wrong. Choose a CRM that gives you an in-depth look at the results of your sales and marketing team’s efforts. For example, if your marketing team puts out a landing page for your website, your CRM should be able to tell you exactly how that page is performing, but it should also show you how it’s performing in the big picture. Is it up or down compared to other landing pages, and how is it converting? Big picture reporting ensures you know the answers to all of these questions, so you can improve in real-time.

#4 Automation

Your team’s time is money. They’re busy reaching out to new leads and closing deals, and they don’t have time to do all of the little things that can make a big impact. For those little things, like follow-up emails and sending out new, relevant content offers, you want a CRM with automation capabilities. Automated workflows help your sales team qualify more leads in less time, and they help you serve potential clients the content they want, without taking extra time out of your team’s day. Choose a CRM with automation, so your team can work smarter, not harder.

#5 Lead Filtering Options

When you’re utilizing a full suite of inbound marketing tools, your team won’t have time to mess around with unqualified leads. Many quality CRMs offer filtering options so you don’t even see the visitors to your site who won’t ever purchase what you’re selling. From competitors checking out your site to bots to free email accounts, there will be plenty of people browsing your site with no intention to buy. Have your CRM weed them out for you. There are CRM options out there that will immediately disqualify those site visitors for you, so your sales and marketing teams don’t have to give them another thought.

Beyond eliminating unqualified leads, a smart, effective CRM can help you select the best-qualified leads, and ensure they move swiftly through the buyer’s funnel by alerting your sales team of their potential. You can select the options that make a quality lead a quality lead, and your CRM can take it from there.

#6 Notifications

If you’re investing in a CRM, you should be working hard to align your sales and marketing teams for the best possible lead conversion rate. When your marketing team hands off a lead to the sales team, you want the appropriate people to know. It may sound small, but notifications ensure your sales team doesn’t miss out on those hot leads who the marketing team has already nurtured through the majority of the buyers funnel.

When it comes to choosing the perfect CRM, it never hurts to be thorough. While those 6 qualities we pointed out are a great place to start, you’ll probably have more questions and concerns specific to your company. If you’re just not sure what to look for, let’s talk. As a Hubspot Certified Partner, we know what a good CRM looks like, and we can help you work to align your sales and marketing teams with the best on the market.

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