For industrial B2B businesses, CRM systems are no longer a “nice to have” option. They are now the centerpiece for effectively executing a winning digital sales and marketing strategy. However, with industrial businesses historically being laggards on digitalization, CRM implementations many times end up with low utilization rates, frustrated sales teams, and relatively poor ROI. In this article, we will focus on 5 key concepts you can apply to get more value from your CRM platform and improve the ROI from your implementation.
Align Sales & Marketing Processes to the CRM
Many B2B sales organizations implement a CRM system and then quickly slide back to using manual spreadsheets to keep track of their sales pipeline, customer records, and opportunities. Likewise, if the marketing team isn’t using the CRM as the central system for recording leads, customer engagement data, and campaign information, there will be little value created, and no coordination between the two teams.
Industrial sales leaders should first take time to clearly define what operational activities they need their CRM to support. Should the system be used for opportunity management, activity management, quoting, forecasting, call planning, or other activities? It’s best to start by laying out all the steps in your sales operations process, and then map each area to where CRM can be utilized.
For marketing, the same rules apply. CRM can provide a wealth of opportunity to support sales and marketing alignment, but only if it is being used as the central hub to manage operations for both teams. Marketing should ensure that the CRM is fully integrated with any other MarTech systems like marketing automation, website lead forms, email campaign touch-points, website activity, etc.
Finally, CRM reporting should be structured so that both sales and marketing teams have access to the information that they need to run their business units quickly and efficiently. Setting up customized dashboards and reports inside the system that provide value to business leaders is a critical step to driving adoption from managers, which then set the example for their teams. The CRM should be a place where all sales and marketing reporting is reviewed during meetings and planning sessions, setting the standard for it to be viewed as “home base”.
Utilize Artificial Intelligence to Automate and Analyze
AI is one of the hottest digitalization topics right now in the industrial sales world. Although we are just seeing the beginning of what AI has to offer, it has the ability to change the game for B2B organizations looking to streamline their sales and marketing activities.
One of the biggest opportunities to see a return from AI is to implement functionality that helps drive sales utilization of CRM. Recent reports indicate that less than 40% of businesses report a CRM adoption rate above 90%. Using AI functionality to automate routine sales tasks is an easy way to improve adoption rates and drive value from your CRM.
Salesforce.com has already made huge strides on this front with the recent integration of Einstein into their platform. It empower users by automatically capturing and logging critical customer data, such as contact info, email threads, calendar events, social data, etc., right into the associated Salesforce records with no manual effort required. When coupled with Einstein voice, sales users can literally speak updates into action. Activities like logging a call, moving opportunity stages, adding meetings notes, and updating pipeline can now be accomplished by simply speaking into a smartphone.
AI also brings the opportunity to revolutionize the way businesses turn data into actionable insights. For most B2B companies, CRMs have historically just been data repositories. However, when you apply AI, CRM’s can transform from a data repository into a powerful tool that helps you see around corners.
In addition to automating workflows, AI can work with your CRM to help discover insights, predict outcomes, and recommend next steps. This whole process helps B2B sales organizations find hidden opportunities in their data. Imagine knowing a major deal was at risk before your sales rep ever realizes there’s a problem!
Using existing data, artificial intelligence can also generate recommended actions for salespeople, including suggestions for personalized sales and marketing collateral to be delivered at specified times. That brings us to our next concept – sales enablement.
Integrate a Sales Enablement System
Sales enablement systems are a hot topic for B2B industrial manufacturers. When coupled with CRM, the ROI from sales enablement is achieved by empowering better customer interactions, guided by data.
So, what is sales enablement? It is the process of providing sales organizations with information, content, and tools that help salespeople sell more effectively. The aim is to provide salespeople with what they need to successfully engage the buyer at every stage throughout the buying process. When properly implemented, sales enablement allows a large number of salespeople to achieve quota in a scalable, predictable, and repeatable fashion.
There are several ways that sales enablement can help increase your collective ROI when connected to CRM. Here are a few key examples:
- Using CRM data, marketing and sales content can be proactively tailored and recommended by sales enablement systems. This is done by using customer information stored in your CRM to inform what content would be best suited for the customer, based on their industry, business challenges, or previous engagement activity.
- Sales enablement can provide a single portal for accessing all sales and marketing content, ensuring that sales reps always have the most up to date, relevant information to share with their clients.
- Once prospects engage with shared content, sales enablement systems can report customer engagements, such as what content was viewed and for how long, back into the CRM system. This gives sales reps and business leaders better insight into how engaged customers are during the sales cycle and what is catching their interest.
- Sales enablement systems can also provide training and sales support content to sales reps, informed by information from prior wins logged in your CRM system.
- Finally, combining these two systems can also give sales managers and business leaders insight into how their sales reps are performing during customer meetings and how effective their presentations are at generating customer engagement.
When customer meetings are conducted with support from a sales enablement system, it eliminates the need for sales reps to manually log their activity in the CRM system. This alone can help drive significant increases in CRM utilization from reps since they no longer need to manually log meeting details.
Leverage Value from other Martech Systems
MarTech, otherwise known as Marketing Technology, is the term for the software and tech tools marketers leverage to plan, execute, and measure marketing campaigns.
There are over 7,000 different MarTech systems available to help address any number of needs for your organization. Ranging from automated chat-bots for websites, to tools that use AI to determine what type of corporate gift to offer your customers. There are plenty of platforms to fit the needs of your business.
When it comes to industrial marketing, perhaps the most significant ROI that can be extracted from CRM is by connecting it to a marketing automation system. Marketing automation is the grandfather of all MarTech and outside of CRM, is one of the most important pieces of the B2B MarTech stack.
Marketing automation software is seeing exponential growth within the B2B sector. It allows companies to significantly improve their marketing lead generation, lead nurturing, and lead scoring activities. Since this system manages all customer touchpoints before sales team involvement, it is key to connect this system properly with your CRM.
One of the key benefits of connecting marketing automation to CRM is the ability to accurately see what is happening early on in the customer sales cycle. Research shows that buyers are now as much as 70% of the way through the buying process before they engage with a sales rep. Given this paradigm shift, sales and marketing must be connected more closely than ever before. Marketing automation offers a powerful solution to bridge this gap.
Personalization in customer touchpoints is becoming more important for industrial sales and marketing teams. According to recent reports from Marketo, 90% of customers are more likely to do business with a brand that offers personalization in their approach.
With the power of data, it has never been easier to execute personalization at scale. CRM can be the backbone of helping sales and marketing teams drive more personalized connections with customers. However, this is predicated on keeping the data in your CRM up-to-date and accurate. By leveraging MarTech and sales enablement to help with automation, personalization can be a much easier task to achieve.
If your sales team is taking a personalized approach to a client meeting, utilizing sales enablement connected to CRM will result in better customer conversations. Likewise, if your marketing team is using CRM data to empower marketing automation activities, the level of personalization in the messaging will be dramatically improved.
By leveraging CRM data, personalization can be employed across all digital touchpoints with your customers, such as email campaigns, website visits, retargeting ads, and social ads. With the expanding realm of MarTech systems to help provide solutions, personalization can now be done with relative ease.
One of the most effective ways to utilize this approach in industrial marketing is to match the profile of your prospects to the most relevant content you can provide them in the nurturing phase of the sales cycle. With sales enablement, you can continue that personalized approach all the way to the sales conversations that occur when the reps conduct their sales calls.
Personalization has been a rising trend in industrial marketing for some time, but the changing dynamics of industrial sales is requiring the same approach to be taken to the sales meeting. With buyer awareness and education on the rise, personalization at the sales level is vital, as buyers are now expecting salespeople to be trusted advisors. Personalization has proven to be an important first step to fostering that type of relationship.
CRM systems are no longer the C-suite mandated, Big Brother-style management systems of yesterday. Modern B2B industrial businesses can now use them to leverage the massive power of data and inform other MarTech systems to automate processes and improve customer engagements.
When coupled with systems like Klyck's sales enablement platform, the ROI from CRM systems can dramatically be improved – while simultaneously providing the sales rep with more value in their day-to-day operations. This ultimately leads to delighted customers, and sales reps.