October 14, 2015

Smarketing 101: What Is CRM Software?

Smarketing 101: What is CRM Software?

Does your sales team use the latest technology to track customers and leads ... or sticky IHOP napkins?

According to the latest HubSpot State of Inbound report, napkins are more probable: 46% of sales pros surveyed said they were not using dedicated technology to store their lead and customer data. Instead, they said they relied on ad hoc or informal systems, like physical files, Google docs or shared spreadsheets. Moreover, a full 24% of sales teams don't use customer relationship management (CRM) software at all. 

HubSpot also found that unsuccessful sales teams (those that were stagnant or losing employees) were twice as likely to report that they used Excel, Outlook, or physical files to store lead and customer information. So failure to use CRM software strongly correlates with sales stagnation.  

But I'm Not in Sales ...

But you're in marketing, not sales. So why do you care how your sales team operates? Because we've entered the era of smarketing, an era where sales and marketing teams work side by side, complementing and enhancing each other's efforts. Companies that use the smarketing approach acknowledge and capitalize on the fact that sales and marketing have always been two sides of the same coin. 

Ask successful sales representatives how much time they spend in customer relationship management. Most would report that they spend countless hours on this activity, because strong relationships close sales. Meanwhile, the foundation of inbound marketing is relationship nurturing. Where sales and marketing departments once lived as (sometimes competitive) siblings, today those departmental lines continue to be blurred.

The Benefits of CRM Software

Customer relationship management (CRM) software allows you to manage and track interactions with clients, leads and contacts. Usually CRM software offers the ability to track a wide variety of activities, from sales calls and marketing emails, to website engagement and customer service interactions. A robust CRM system puts a wealth of useful information at your sales team's fingertips. 

As marketing pros who also happen to be fluent in ad strategy and sales, we're all about stretching our fantastic HubSpot CRM to its maximum capabilities. Here are five reasons you should support your sales team's adoption of CRM software. 

1. The Ability to Make Data-Driven Decisions

Smart marketers live by the adage, "What gets measured gets managed." And the best CRM software allows your sales team to measure...just about anything. With all that data, your team can evaluate virtually every aspect of the sales process, which allows them to make the kinds of decisions that close more sales and shorten the sales cycle. 

2. Greater Efficiency and Alignment

A central repository for all your sales team's data makes the information easily accessible for anyone in the organization, at any time. Sales reps and executives can easily share their progress and information across your organization. This capability allows your marketing, sales and other departments to align goals and efforts more effectively. And if the CRM software integrates with your marketing automation software, you're really in business! 

3. Higher Close Rates

When sales reps don't have the lead behavior data they need, they must either search it out or move forward without it. Either option complicates the preparation process. And it means that your sales team might head into a meeting unaware of the prospect's true needs and interests. They may even waste time on unqualified leads. But if your entire organization systematically uses a CRM tool, your sales team can spend more time tailoring their approach to qualified leads, an activity that consistently results in higher close rates. 

4. More Efficient Cross- and Up-Selling

Your customers already love your team and your product, so they may be interested in other offers from your company. Using the data from your CRM, your sales team can determine which customers might be ready for an upgrade or interested in additional products. With cooperation between sales and marketing teams, your sales team can continue to delight your clients with exactly what they need, before they even consider looking for it elsewhere. 

5. Smoother Transitions

Over time, the faces of your sales team will change. And the right CRM software ensures that all your sales reps' insights don't leave the company, even if they do. Your customers will appreciate that they don't have to start from scratch when they get a new sales rep, and your new sales employees will be better able to hit the ground running. While some of these vital insights might require manual entry into the CRM (such as nuances about a client's communication preferences or organization politics), once they're entered, they're accessible by anyone who may need to contact that client again. 

6. An Increased (Marketing) Budget

Okay, okay, so we said five reasons, but this last one is too big not to mention! One interesting tidbit from the State of Inbound report: the most successful marketers were frequently included in the process of choosing sales software. Marketers who reported participated in CRM selection were 13% more likely to report a positive ROI and 11% more likely to get an increased budget. Meanwhile, while sales teams' tech budgets were more likely to decrease over the past year, there was a high correlation between budget increases and embracing CRM software. The moral of the story: using CRM software is great for everyone's bottom line. 

For more insights on sales and marketing, check out HubSpot's State of Inbound 2015 for yourself. It's brimming with data on the latest trends in both fields. 

SOIM-cta

Kristin Masters

Kristin Masters is a content marketing specialist with almost a decade's experience in SEO and social marketing. A HubSpot maven, Kristin has developed and implemented inbound marketing strategies for a variety of B2B and B2C clients. Kristin graduated from the University of Florida with an ever-useful specialization in 18th-century British literature. She teaches Bikram yoga.