Do I Need a CRM? The Benefits of Using a CRM to Bolster Your Sales and Marketing

When it comes to customer relationship management (CRM), the sooner you implement it, the easier it will be. However, most early-stage businesses fall into the trap of holding off and testing the limits of Excel spreadsheets and scratch paper.

I sat down with the VP of sales for a non-profit organization with revenue just under $200 million per year. They recently made the leap from spreadsheets to Salesforce — a transition with ample lessons for why your small business could benefit from CRM software. Here are the details, along with what to consider when the time comes:

Reason 1. The second law of CRM-thermodynamics: Entropy in your spreadsheets always increases

Right now, all your CRM data might exist on a single pristine spreadsheet – and maybe, everyone on your team even knows where it is. But what happens when six months from now, you start tracking a new kind of sales interaction, for which you have no data for previous contacts? What happens when a year from now, an account manager loses access to the sheet and starts tracking on their own version? Compounded over 10 years, your tracking system will get pretty chaotic, and you’ll lose any semblance of version control. When our interviewee was tasked with cleaning up sales data, this is exactly what he found in his department:

“Spreadsheets disappeared or changed hands over the years, and new ones without our old data took their place. When I was brought on as VP of sales almost two years ago, I had very little initial customer interaction data to go on. When our sales team was set to meet with decision makers in client organizations, we were completely in the dark as to what past interactions were like, what was previously discussed, and what previous priorities were set.”

“Now, our sales team no longer has to jump from spreadsheet to spreadsheet to find data, whether it’s from yesterday or years ago.”

Reason 2. CRM software builds process and consistency of use

The VP we spoke to considered it crucial to judge performance quantitatively:

“On a regular basis from my team, I want value metrics – how much a team member has advanced revenue, how many people they’ve contacted, etc.”

But without a common CRM platform to enforce standards for data entry, team members reported their own value metrics in different formats, and comparing got hairy:

“It took too much work to understand our own data – with such disparate metrics I was receiving, I couldn’t generate dashboards or summaries. CRM software means now we all communicate on a single comprehensive platform, and I don’t have to make subjective guesses about how data relate to each other as often.”

The Tower of Babel shouldn’t be the inspiration for your business’s reporting – if it feels like your team reports to you in different languages, this is one more reason to consider CRM software.

Reason 3. You can unite sales and marketing efforts

Next on our VP colleague’s to-do list? Integrate his CRM software with marketing. Obviously, the part where we at Chempetitive Group start getting really excited.

It’s easy to see why: businesses that integrate with marketing automation see qualified leads go up 451%. A majority of the buyer’s journey is now handled by marketing, not sales – and a seamless buyer’s experience requires both. Using CRM software for sales while using less capable tools for marketing is a bit like buying a Ferrari with a lawnmower’s engine.

Marketing automation platforms like Pardot and HubSpot let you quickly generate lead intel into simple, actionable dashboards, and further break down data with tools like buyers’ personas. Automating marketing through these programs also means that leads are more informed by the time they get to your sales staff, and more inclined to make a purchase.

Reason 4. The transition is easier than you think

Our interviewee spearheaded adoption in his department, along with a team member with an analytics background acting as administrator:

“It wasn’t a big challenge. We had some ‘über users’ who rapidly became experts. Adoption was slower for others, especially those with no prior CRM software knowledge, but after some basic training everyone was on the same page.”

For a smooth transition, it’s most helpful when everyone, in both sales and marketing, comes to the table with their requirements from the outset. Having a clear picture of where your sales and marketing teams operate throughout the buyer’s journey, and what other tools they currently use to do so, will help you understand which configured programs will step up their game.

Next Steps

Friends don’t let friends use excel. Convinced that it’s time to make the change? Reach out to Chempetitive Group’s Todd Kuna, Chicago-based marketing director and full-time CRM enthusiast.

Further thoughts from Todd: maximizing your trade show event budget through CRM software and other tools, integrating your sales and marketing with CRM and across the board, and surviving life science startup turmoil.