When used correctly, CRMs can help you save time, simplify sales and marketing workflows, and boost efficiency.
But if your CRM is just a library of marketing contacts, you don’t really have a CRM — you have a glorified spreadsheet.
Achieving alignment between marketing and sales can be a challenge, and if you’re not using automation, you’re only making it harder for yourself and everyone else. A successful, fully aligned marketing/sales pipeline only really works well if you can ensure a high level of consistency, one that’s best achieved through automation.
In this post, we’ll explore why automation is so important and offer some steps to improve CRM value.
CRM automation is best practice. Here’s why:
The core promise of CRM technology is a huge boost in the efficiency and accuracy of sales and marketing, enabling both teams to be way more effective than they would be if they had to manually track everything.
If you never set up automations in your CRM, you never realize that value fully — and it’s not like you’re just stopping halfway there — you’re really starting at square one, with most of the value left uncaptured.
Without automation, marketing and sales team members have to waste precious time manually inputting information. In fact, 27% of salespeople spend an hour or more on data entry each day, and 23% cite entering data as their biggest CRM challenge.
When data has to be manually entered, errors find their way into the system, slowing down the sales process and damaging the customer experience.
Data entry isn’t where your marketing and sales teams should be directing their efforts (and, let’s face it, it’s also really boring).
So how can automation help you get 10x the value from your CRM?
When automations are set up thoughtfully, the handoff of leads from marketing to sales is consistent and reliable. Leads are passed to sales at the right time, with the right information, and that means more efficiency (and far fewer miscommunications).
Likewise, CRM automation allows sales teams to make sure no promising opportunity is left untouched and direct more effort toward the most valuable leads.
Basically, automation makes everything faster, easier, and more accurate so your marketing and sales teams can do their jobs efficiently.
Getting started with CRM automation
Setting up automation may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be! Start by making a few strategic changes first, and you’ll be on your way to a more efficient sales pipeline in no time. Here are a few good places to start:
Need to segment all contacts from a particular company? That’s only going to happen if all the contacts are actually sorted correctly.
Some CRMs automatically categorize contacts by company based on email address domain (@company.com), but not all do. It’s essential to set up this automation if your CRM doesn’t offer it out of the box.
Company owner assignment
If your sales team members are assigned contacts by company, use automations to align your CRM with your sales process so contacts are assigned to the right sales team member.
This improves customer experience by ensuring that leads move down the sales funnel without inadvertently getting handed off to the wrong person and prevents two reps from accidently working the same deal.
One of your CRM’s most valuable functions is to automate the process of moving contacts to more specific categories at the appropriate time based on engagement, purchases, and key touchpoints.
Before you can automate your CRM workflow, you have to define your customer lifecycle stages so your leads can be placed into segmented buckets.
The best way to accomplish this is to categorize various actions that contacts can take, and assign each of them to a lifecycle stage. For example, you might decide that when a lead downloads a gated ebook from your website, they become a marketing qualified lead (MQL).
As you map out these lifecycle stages, take a close look at lead behavior data from past deals — the actions they took, the content they viewed, and their lead score before they made a purchase. You can also use this data to change your automation rules later if trends change.
Once you’ve decided on how to organize contacts based on lifecycle stages, you can create criteria for your CRM to do it automatically.
It’s also smart to create an automation that notifies the appropriate sales rep when a particularly good lead takes certain actions (for example, when someone who is a manager at their company has a high lead score and downloads a case study).
And using other information from your CRM, that sales rep will then be able to personalize the interaction based on the lead’s life cycle segmentation, buyer persona, and pain points.
This ensures that your sales team knows exactly when to reach out to high-potential prospects. — no more guessing, just a clear heads-up that there could be a deal on the horizon.
Partner with the pros
Shameless plug time: teaming up with an implementation partner can help you get the most functionality and value from your CRM. We wouldn’t say this if it wasn’t true, especially for organizations with large volumes of contacts and/or more complex sales pipelines (like those with custom lead statuses or lead types).
Out-of-the-box features are great, but an experienced implementation partner will take you ten times further by setting up custom automations that will drive results based on your business’ particular needs.
With the right automations in place, you can transform your CRM from a contact library to a tool for productivity.