In this article, we will dig deeper into the concept of CRM automation, best practices while automating CRM, along with some examples of CRM automation tools. We will also understand the advantages and must-have features of CRM automation platforms.
Table of Contents
- What Is CRM Automation?
- 5 key functions of CRM automation
- Types of CRM automation tools
- Top 6 CRM automation best practices for marketing and sales optimization
- Examples of CRM automation software tools
- Advantages of CRM automation
- Summing it up
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) automation is the process of automating sales and customer service functions and enable the teams to track and manage their engagement efforts with current and prospective customers.
Automating the CRM allows sales teams to automate redundant prospecting and customer management tasks which are otherwise time-consuming. These tasks involve day-to-day activities such as data entry, contact updates, communication details, calendar management, and lead and opportunity updates.
Beyond automating tedious sales processes and freeing up the sales person’s time to focus on more strategic work, CRM automation also provides functionalities that empower sales teams to make complex decisions using advanced analytics. It facilitates easy collaboration between sales and marketing, which is a priority for many businesses.
Now, let us take a look at the key functions of CRM automation tools.
While there are many functions performed by CRM automation tools, we have listed down the 5 core functions that you must look for while investing in a CRM tool.
1. Contact management: Contact management is a basic feature offered by most CRM automation softwares to help manage contact data for prospects and customers with fields such as name, email, contact details, social profiles, company details etc. The contact management function should be provided on a clean and organized user interface that enables quick responses to search queries and easy accessibility to customer data.
2. Lead management: Lead managementOpens a new window function in CRM automation helps salespeople keep track of lead activities. This includes leads identification, lead scoring, lead pipeline management, lead workflow management, and lead tracking. This function keeps salespeople updated with current data to effectively engage with leads and prospects.
3. Documentation management: Sales processes include a lot of documentation such as RFPs. quotes, invoices, transactional documents, sales templates, and contracts. It is important to store these documents where they are readily accessible by sales and they can collect, upload and share them with ease. Therefore, documentation management is an integral function of CRM automation.
4. Integration: CRM automation must facilitate integration with other applications and tools such as email systems, calendars, project management tools, etc. Email integration helps sales people keep track of their conversations, as well as segment thier contact lists efficiently. Calendar integrations are useful to set-up calls, meetings, and reminders with prospects and customers. It also facilitates company wide collaboration for sales team and ensures that all the interaction history with a particular customer is available in a single place, thus reducing dependency on a single individual.
5. Reports and analytics: Reports and analytics is a core functionality of CRM automation that helps optimize sales processes and enables data-driven decision making. From sales performance analysis to sales forecasting, reports and analytics play an important role in automating your CRM.
There are various types of CRM automation tools available. In this article, we segment the types of CRM tools based on two traits: â€“ installation-type and functionality:
Types of CRM automation tools based on installation:
1. On-premise CRM automation software: on-premise CRM automation tools, as the name suggests, is not connected to the internet and can only be accessed from within adefined network and permitted devices. They are preferred by companies that deal with sensitive data and is popular in industries such as banking and finance, defence, healthcare, local / state / national government bodies etc. While being more expensive to install, maintain and scale in comparison to cloud based solutions, their significantly lower risk to security vulnerabilities makes it worth the price and effort â€“ to those who need it.
2. Cloud-based CRM automation software: web or cloud-based CRM automation tools are often available as SaaS applications. With no installation cost or maintenance fee, real-time access to data from any device and location, flexible space-to-pricing options etc. make cloud CRMs the preferred CRM automation software for startups to large organizations alike. While initially cloud based systems were more prone to cyber attacks, cloud based CRM automation providers have off late tightened security measures and today are almost as secure as on-premise systems. Data security continues to be a top priority for most companies, not just because of the regulations and laws, but also because customer data can provide significant competitive advantage.
CRM automation tools based on functionality:
1. Operational CRM automation software: such tools provide automation features for sales and marketing functions and simplify the tracking of customer activity with features like lead management, email sending and automation, lead scoring, and marketing automationOpens a new window .
2. Analytical CRM automation software: analytical automation platforms are powerful engines that collect and process high volumes of data, providing detailed reports and analysis for sales teams to make data-driven decisions.
3. Collaborative CRM automation software: primarily focused on Customer Experience (CX), collaborative CRM automation tools are ideal for enterprises dealing with massive amounts of data analytics, forecasting, and team collaboration.
While CRM automation is designed to make life easier for sales and marketing teams, and is among the most deployed sales tech toolsOpens a new window CRM in general is a long way away from optimal adoption and productivity, for a variety of reasons ranging from ease of use to culture issues .
Following these best practices while automating your sales processes using CRM automation software tools will not only ensure you set up the right automation but also help in getting the maximum ROI on your sales and marketing efforts
1. Maintain data uniformity
Maintaining data uniformity is one of the most important practices to follow in CRM automation. Imagine having a database where data entry formats are different for every user on your CRM. Allowing multiple formats for data entry and updates creates chaos in your database.
The best solution to avoid such situations is to create clear and concise guidelines for data entry and data updates, including the use of drop-down menus rather than free-flow text boxes. This includes entering contact details, tracking phone calls, conversation logs, appointment setting, and data updates. Maintaining uniform standards for your database ensures maximum productivity of your sales teams while contributing to better ROI.
2. Conduct regular data audits
Another best practice to follow while automating and maintaining your CRM is to conduct regular data audits or where possible, invest in a system that can do perpetual data updates. Thanks to change in employee status, , company acquisitions, domain changes, address changes, and much more, data becomes redundant in months, and needs to be kept fresh for best outcomes.
Conducting regular data audits and following a data cleansing routine between specific time intervalsensures that your data is current and up-to-date and your sales team can spend more time selling instead of updating databases or dealing with outdated data.
3. Enable data integration for marketing and sales
There is a lot that happens before the sales journey begins for a lead. And this information is available for analysis on marketing data platforms. From website page visits to form submissions, from content consumption to clicks on email newsletters, marketing data capture activities and interests of leads even before the first contact is made by salespeople. Learn more about how the marketing automation and CRM relationship is evolving.
Automating the sync of marketing data with your CRM provides your sales team with contextual knowledge that can come in handy while communicating with leads. It helps them prioritize on which leads to contact first, and facilitates smooth sales-marketing collaboration. Enabling seamless data integration between sales and marketing data is an important practice to follow in CRM automation.
4. Mobile-friendly, Cloud-based CRM
In this age of cloud applications, distributed teams, and globalization, data availability around the clock becomes a mandate. This is possible when your tool is accessible across multiple devices, including mobile platforms and even smart devices, anytime and from anywhere, to enable sales teams to do their job as well as possible. .
Ensuring that your CRM automation tool is device-agnostic, and your sales team can access the data anywhere at any time also boosts productivity, keeps data management as near to real-time as possible, and helps manage downtime effectively.
5. Facilitate CRM automation integration with social channels
Social media has revolutionized the way consumers interact with businesses. Businesses today use social media as a channel to answer customer queries, as well as provide responses to post-purchase complaints and suggestions in as near real-time as possible.
Integrating social media conversations into the CRM not only helps sales people understand consumer expectations, behavior, and current status; it also helps them respond in as near real-time as possible in case of questions, enquiries, complaints and referrals.
Advanced features such as social listening and sentiment analysis powered by AI and deep learning can further empower sales teams with even deeper insights with access to this unstructured data.
6. Minimize complexity of the CRM tool
CRM automation tools help boost the productivity and efficiency of sales teams. Maintaining adequate data hygiene with simple yet effective workflows ensures not just efficiency of the tool but also higher adoption by users. With multiple teams using the CRM automation tool for various purposes, and the current focus on a single unified source of customer data to execute orchestrated campaigns. the ess the complexity, the better the usage and outcomes.
There are various CRM automation platforms available in the market, each providing its own set of features. They serve companies from different industries, markets, sizes, and geographies. .
Here, we look at the top five cloud-based SaaS CRM automation tools available in the market that provide basic as well as advanced features for most high-growth organizations in the SMB segment.
1. Hubspot CRM
The Hubspot CRM tool is an integrated automation tool that provides sales, marketing, and customer service automation functionalities. It is a top-grade solution for CRM automation.
The tool provides all the basic features essential for CRM automation such as sales pipeline management, email sending, scheduling, and tracking, workflow management, database management, lead scoring, social media integration, or calls.
The CRM also offers a free subscription for up to 1,000,000 contacts, along with easy integrations for third-party tools.
2. Salesforce Sales Cloud
Salesforce offers excellent CRM automation solutions via the Salesforce sales cloud tool. Ideal for medium and enterprise organization, this CRM offers basic as well as advanced functionalities to automate your sales pipeline.
From account, contact, and opportunity management to email workflows, documentation and sales forecasting, the list of automation solutions offered by the Salesforce CRM tool is quite long. It also provides integration with contacts, calendars, emails, and tasks across multiple platforms that enhance inter-department collaboration.
The Salesforce Essential plan at $25 per user per month is a good starter pack for beginners in CRM automation. You can upgrade your plan according to your requirements in the future.
3. Zoho CRM
Zoho CRM is a cloud-based CRM automation platform that caters to SMB and startup markets. It offers all the basic automation functionalities like lead management, deal management, forecasting, activity workflows, and account management.
It also boasts a gamification platform to engage and motivate sales people in achieving their targets. Zoho CRM offers subscription plans that start as low as $18/month and can be upgraded as per further requirements.
Freshsales is a CRM automation platform powered by Freshworks. The tool makes an ideal fit for SMBs and mid-market enterprises with packages starting as low as $18/month.
With basic and advanced features like event tracking, call tracking, email automationOpens a new window , deal management, lead scoring, Freshsales offers best-in-class CRM automation solutions.
What makes it more ideal is the mobile-friendly application available for Android and iOS that enables sales on the go.
5. bpm’online CRM
bpm’online CRM is a customer lifecycle management platform with advanced CRM automation features. The USP for this CRM tool is its offering of field sales management features that improve field sales processes.
Other features include document flow automation, sales forecasting, and mobile sales. It also offers easy synchronization and integration with third-party systems. Invest in the bpm’online CRM automation software if field sales are the priority for your business.
Throughout this article, we have talked about how CRM automation can empower your sales and marketing teams. In this section, we narrow in on the benefits that can be expected with effective deployment of CRM automation:
1. Increases sales productivity
Automating your CRM significantly reduces the time spent by sales teams on redundant sales activities such as data entry, data updates, call logs, and sending emails and follow-ups. CRM automation boosts productivity by saving this time and effort. The sales team can refocus this time on increasing the flow of qualified leads and conversions.
2. Boosts sales-marketing collaboration
Integrating your sales and marketing automation will ensure better collaboration between the sales and marketing teams. Critical issues between these departments such as lead ownerships and data updates can be resolved with ease given the automation of all the manual processes. In case of unavailability of some team members, it is easy for another member to take over their leads and opportunities with easy access to data.
3. Helps in decision making with powerful insights
With detailed analytical reports and AI-powered sales forecasting, CRM automation tools have become more intelligent. This intelligence will help your salespeople with powerful insights to prioritize on leads, opportunities, and make complicated decisions.
4. Enhances customer experience
CRM automation helps salespeople track each and every activity of leads and prospects. This includes blog post visits, email opens and clicks, and website content interactions. Also, easy accessibility to prospect data such as location, social engagement, and demographics helps sales teams to communicate better with prospective customers. It is easier for sales teams to personalize every conversation that improves customer experienceOpens a new window .
CRM automation has become an integral, if not mandatory requirement of all sales-driven organizations that need to manage prospect and customer relationships and communication more efficiently and effectively. Modern-day CRM is moving towardsOpens a new window padding: 0px; outline: none; outline-offset: -2px; border: 0px;”> the use of machine learning (ML) and AI, voice and conversational commerce, as well as microservices model to deliver ever-increasing value to B2B organizations.