(Editor’s note: The following is a guest blog post from Jesse Heller, marketing director at Faye Business Systems Group, a SugarCRM elite partner).
Google “integrated CRM.” Go ahead, I’ll wait. About 3,750,000 results? Yea, that’s what I got too. Sound like a lot of results? Remove the word “integrated” and see what you get. Psstt…it’s 15x more results.
Now, do an image search for the same two words. So many circles and bubbles and clouds and charts! But what’s at the center of most of these images? CRM is at the center.
CRM has been universally accepted and adopted as being the central tool for a sales growth driven organization. But what may not be as commonly understood is that your CRM software should actually be the central platform for your entire organization. Just looking at those images of integrated CRM should give you a brief understanding of the Kool-Aid I’m pushing over here.
In our organization, CRM is at the center of everything, and we’ve customized it to best fit our business in so many ways. By doing so, we’ve given all of the different departments of our operations visibility into every way we run our business. My recommendation for anyone looking to create a highly cohesive organization is to look at the core platforms you use, and think about integrating them with your CRM. At a minimum, here are the top platforms that you should have connected to your CRM yesterday:
- Accounting and ERP
- Marketing Automation
- Project Management and Issue Tracking
Accounting and ERP Platform
With an integrated ERP and CRM system, you can synchronize customer sales history, customer item history, product line history, and inventory history to your CRM. By sending customers (accounts), inventory items (products), and sales history (account performance) from your ERP to your CRM, you’ll improve customer service with the ability to instantly address any questions that your customers may have. Imagine what your sales team can do with detailed order history from each customer.
The end goal of an integrated ERP and CRM system is the ability to keep all of your customer information and all of your accounting information together
in one place. With an integrated ERP and CRM platform your sales team will have more openings to attract and retain customers, strengthen customer loyalty, and discover new revenue opportunities.
Marketing Automation Platforms
Sales and marketing teams don’t always see eye-to-eye, you’ve likely heard that once or twice before. In truth, there’s no reason this dynamic should exist anymore. The key is to utilize tools that enable sales and marketing to speak the same language. CRM and marketing automation integration does just that – it gives both sales and marketing some common ground in which they can benefit from actionable analytics and data.
What type of actionable data? I’m talking about enabling your sales team with real time access to client or prospect engagement with:
- Email campaigns
- Web page interactions
- Events and webinars
- Automated programs
- Social publishing
- Search terms
With an integrated marketing automation platform in your CRM, you’ll be aligning your sales and marketing teams by providing access to all of your digital marketing activities inside your CRM.
Project Management and Issue Tracking Platforms
Project management and issue tracking software refers to a software package designed to focus on all challenges that require project management within a company. It can be used for internal project tracking and tracking incoming client or customer projects and issues.
When you integrate your project management platform with your CRM, you can:
- View and access critical issues from your CRM dashboard
- Receive critical issue alerts from within your CRM
- View your issues as a list from within your CRM
- Search for issues from within your CRM
- View issue details from within your CRM
An integrated project management and issue tracking strategy helps to streamline the issue status notification process, and makes critical information visible and timely across your company. It connects development and project management with the sales team and creates, by definition, a complete view of your customer’s journey.