CRM Data

4 best practices for seamless CRM integration

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is the primary way organizations keep track of their customer and prospect data. Through various technology integrations, an organization’s CRM, website, and other business applications (email, marketing automation, accounting, business intelligence, etc.) work together seamlessly to deliver insights and drive revenue growth. A CRM that is integrated with key business applications ensures that new leads contain accurate activity history, are appropriately assigned to the sales or marketing team, and then nurtured consistently to increase conversions and retain existing customers. In fact, a properly-managed CRM can improve customer retention by as much as 27%[1], and well-nurtured leads can lead to 50% more sales.[2]

Brands can follow these 4 best practices when implementing a CRM integration to ensure they can seamlessly centralize data and better understand and analyze customer behavior.

1. Invest in quality data

Industry experts have a saying when it comes to CRM data, “Garbage in, garbage out.” A 2019 Forrester study, commissioned by Data Axle, found that 90% of marketers surveyed said their campaigns were negatively affected by polluted data. Equipping your CRM with clean data is the first step in a successful integration. You can boost data quality by:

Addressing data gaps –  Empty form fields are a red flag that signals poor data quality. If your records are missing key information, your sales team is often unable to reach or engage them and the entry is meaningless. There are valuable integrations that can fill account or lead-level gaps in real-time, saving your sales team time and your marketing team money.

Focusing on data hygieneData in a CRM needs to be periodically cleansed. This means validating existing data, reconciling duplicates, updating out-of-date information, verifying key contact information, flagging seasonal addresses, and suppressing individuals who do not wish to (or can’t) be contacted.

With high-quality data, organizations are armed with a 360-degree view of their customer and actionable insights to guide sales and marketing strategy. Watch the video below to learn how companies are using integrations to address data gaps and data cleansing.

2. Provide training for your CRM users

A brand can have the cleanest data and the best automation tools, but if employees don’t know how to use these tools, brands won’t see a return on investment. As soon as they come on board, new employees should go through rigorous training on how to use a company’s CRM- be it for creating opportunities, contacts, accounts, etc. Sales leaders and administrators should provide employees with guides and cheat sheets to instruct them as they learn how to interact with the CRM.

An excerpt from a Salesforce user guide image via Salesforce

3. Minimize manual entries

Minimizing manual entries is important – both to keep data clean (since human error can lead to incorrect information) and to increase efficiency since no company wants a highly effective member of their sales team wasting their time on data entry. Although some manual entry will always be a part of a living, breathing CRM, companies can find ways to minimize the process and make it less time-consuming. For example, is an integration that drastically minimizes manual entry by automatically matching, verifying and appending existing contacts in real-time, without overriding contact history.

4. Improve reporting and dashboards

CRM platforms provide a centralized data repository that helps brands optimize customer relationships through better insights that more accurately predict customer behavior. With the correct integrations feeding data into a company’s CRM, organizations can improve efficiency across the board. Setting up custom reports and dashboards gives managers better insights into their pipelines and helps them communicate results to other departments and senior executives. In addition, smart CRM workflows can cut back on long email chains and allow managers to share data or assign tasks within the system. For example, in Salesforce, it’s possible to automate the contract request process to flow from department to department without ever leaving the CRM interface.

Brand example: Rackspace

Managed cloud solutions company, Rackspace, was having trouble understanding which channels and campaigns were actually contributing to their conversions as their prospects moved down the funnel. They created a stopgap measure within their CRM, but it required a marketer spending more than 16 hours to produce a monthly “click-to-close” report in Salesforce.

Rackspace decided to integrate a solution into their CRM to simplify the process. The company worked with consultants to map out a custom implementation plan that would automate their reporting process. Less than 90 days later, Rackspace’s marketing department gained timely, intuitive insights they could use to attract and convert high-value leads. With automation, the company is saving budget that was previously spent on manual generation of monthly reports. Sameer Khan, a Rackpace marketing manager, said, “We have detailed insight into which campaign and channels are driving our leads: paid search, email, SEO, display, partners and referrals”[3]

Conclusion:

The right tools integrated with a company’s CRM allow sales and marketing teams to achieve high levels of productivity. Clean data, training, and building proper reporting are imperative to ensuring seamless lead acquisition, lead nurture, and attribution processes that prioritize moving customers through the sales funnel.

[1] https://www.salesforce.com/hub/crm/benefits-of-crm/

[2] https://www.lyntonweb.com/inbound-marketing-blog/benefits-of-integrating-your-crm-with-hubspot

[3] https://www.slideshare.net/samkh/ibm-case-study-on-rackspace-accomplishments