Get the most out of your CRM and MAT platform.
It’s not unusual for businesses and companies these days to utilize a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform to help their salespeople manage leads. There’s a reason that companies like Salesforce and SugarCRM are doing so well for themselves – everyone “knows” that they “need” CRM. And, odds are, if you’re using a CRM, you’ve at least heard of MAT (Marketing Automation Technology) and are maybe even using a MAT platform like Pardot or Act-On. These technologies are exceptionally powerful for modern businesses when utilized properly. But, when you align your MAT and CRM software so that they work together – and with your website – you create a system that can completely revolutionize how you generate sales.
When you align your Website, MAT and CRM software, you create a Digital Sales Ecosystem.
That term – “Digital Sales Ecosystem” – may seem like exactly the kind of jargon you’d expect from a digital agency. But an “ecosystem” is exactly what we’re talking about here. Multiple, discrete systems working in concert to create an environment that supports and provides for your sales team. Leads are born and multiply and, yes, sometimes die inside of this ecosystem. But, if we align all of the parts correctly, this ecosystem can help your business flourish and grow like it never has before.
Putting Together the Pieces of the Ecosystem
Creating an effective digital sales ecosystem requires aligning at least five core aspects of your business: your CRM, your MAT, your website, your sales strategy, and your salespeople. If any of these key pieces are out of alignment, the whole thing will fall apart when things start to shake out. Understanding the capabilities and, more importantly, the responsibilities of each piece is crucial to creating a digital sales ecosystem that nurtures leads and grows business.
The Lynchpin: Your Sales Team
Your sales staff may not be able to look your online leads in the eyes and shake their hands, but they are still the most crucial part of the digital sales ecosystem. All of the fancy technology and smart metrics in the world won’t help you if your salespeople aren’t making good use of the tools that you have given them. Your digital sales ecosystem exists solely to empower your sales, marketing, and management teams to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently.
This means that you not only need to make sure that your team knows how to use these tools, you need to ensure that they are on board with the new ecosystem. You have to design your online systems to work with your sales team’s goals and processes, not against them. When your sales team is engaged with their sales ecosystem and excited about the sheer power that these tools put in their hands, their lead conversion numbers skyrocket. It’s usually not too hard to get people on board. Any good salesperson is goal-oriented and driven to increase their sales numbers. Give them an environment that is designed to nurture leads and feed them crucial information about prospects and most sales teams will thrive.
Talk and Listen: Marketing Automation
A lot of people think of MAT as simply a fancy email platform, and sending out intelligent email marketing is certainly one of its core functions. But, if you’re just sending out emails, then you’re only communicating in one direction – you’re talking to your customers and not with them. Conversations are all about the back and forth flow of ideas and information to create a greater understanding between two parties. When we talk about Marketing Automation, what we’re really talking about is creating a conversation with your customers and leads.
MAT allows us to do this by letting us talk to our customers via email AND by seeing, measuring, and acting on their responses. MAT gives us access to powerful data-gathering tools to track a user’s activity from email send all the way to website activity and conversion points. Not only can we track their website activity (as long as your website is appropriately configured), we can score that activity based on what we want to see our leads do. By assigning point values to certain actions, we can automatically measure how “warm” a lead is. This is invaluable to sales staff as they can use this information to direct their energies towards leads that are more likely to result in sales.
So how do you know if you’re using MAT correctly? First, you need to understand what MAT can measure for you. The capabilities of Marketing Automation vary from platform to platform. So whether you’re using Pardot, Act-On, Marketo, or one of the other MAT systems out there, the data that you can get your hands on may vary. That said, here is a list of some of the most common MAT metrics that you’ll want to keep an eye on:
- Email List Size and Segmentation
- Send Frequency
- Sender Reputation
- Open, Click-Through, and Opt-Out Rates
- Lead Numbers
- Lead Sources
- Lead Scores
- New vs. Returning Lead Ratio
- Lead Activity
Success numbers will vary by company, vertical, and target audience, but here are some basic benchmarks to look for:
If you’d like to see what target numbers look like specific to your industry, Constant Contact has a very good chart here.
Keep in Touch: Customer Relationship Management
While Marketing Automation might be new to you, chances are you’ve at least heard of CRM even if you’re not using it. Companies like Salesforce have created some amazing tools to help your sales staff track leads and increase conversions. CRM systems let you track all sorts of great sales-relevant data. You can use a CRM to track:
A warm lead is someone who has shown interest in what you do. In the physical space, it’s easy to tell if someone’s interested but, in the digital world, you have to track activity and quantify that somehow. A CRM will help you nurture these valuable leads so that they stay warm and lead to conversions by tracking the following info:
- Number of Warm Leads in the pipeline
- Age of Warm Leads
- Percentage of Warm Leads with scheduled Next Actions
A crucial part of any sales pipeline is keeping track of the proposals that you’ve got out with leads. Your CRM will let you see your proposal metrics at a glance and help you follow up with open proposals by keeping track of the following info:
- Number of Open Proposals
- Dollar Value of Open Proposals
- Age of Open Proposals
Sales Team Performance
If your sales team is the beating heart of your digital sales ecosystem, then you HAVE to be able to evaluate the health of the team and diagnose any potential issues. Studies show that Millennials, who now make up the largest share of the American workforce, are not only receptive to this kind of performance measuring, they PREFER it to more traditional styles of performance review.
Younger salespeople, in particular, desperately WANT to know how they’re doing, what they can work on, and how they can become more effective at their job. Your CRM gives them this information and gives your management team the metrics that they need to train and equip your sales team. Metrics like:
- Number of calls and appointments made per salesperson per week
- Number of calls and appointments scheduled per salesperson per week
- Number of leads per salesperson per week
- Potential dollar value of leads
- Lead source – Client Referral/Web Referral/Organic
- Number of Open Leads
- Number of Closed Contracts
- Number of Lost Contracts
- Won/Lost ratio
- Dollar amount behind/ahead quota per salesperson per period
While success looks different for every business, industry, and customer base, it is absolutely crucial that you have clearly identified goals and that you’re tracking progress towards them. If you have no benchmarks, this data is useless. If you don’t act on the data, then you are wasting time and money.
The Cornerstone: Your Website
We’ve talked about the importance of having a great website in the past but it’s worth mentioning again here due to the crucial role that it plays with both CRM and MAT platforms.
Your website isn’t just a place where people can find information about you or your products. A well-designed and properly configured website will lead website users down the path towards conversion. Knowing the steps along the path and tying them into your MAT strategy helps keep leads from slipping through the cracks. Gathering the data of where leads stumbled or stalled and getting that data into your CRM and, ultimately, the hands of your sales staff gives them powerful insight into the pain points that need to be overcome to convert leads to customers. Understanding what content your users are engaging with them most (and the least) does more than inform future content. It lets you look into their minds and see what they’re most interested in – and what they’re most likely to spend money on.
All of this happens on your website. It can’t happen anywhere else. In order to effectively leverage the full feature set of a CRM or MAT platform, it has to be tied into your website correctly, your website needs to be coded and configured appropriately, and the content needs to be crafted to strategically and intentionally nurture conversions.
Some things to keep in mind for a conversion-centric website:
With the recent changes in Google’s algorithm, it’s more important than ever that your website is mobile-friendly. The cost to your SEO ranking is just too high to ignore the mobile user.
Lead Acquisition Points
Gathering metrics for anonymous site users is easy. Getting the information that turns anonymous users into known users is less simple but far more rewarding. It means identifying conversion opportunities that already exist on your website (such as contact forms or email signup forms) as well as creating new opportunities that entice users to give you information about themselves. Leveraging valuable gated information or website tools, offering interactive feedback in the form of surveys or quizzes, or granting access to members-only areas of your website can all be effective ways to turn anonymous visitors to known prospects.
Audience-Targeted Landing Pages
When we point website visitors – whether from email, social media, or search engine traffic – to our homepage, we’re essentially saying, “welcome to our website, have fun searching for information that you find interesting!” While there are times when this is appropriate, it is a far better option to create audience-targeted landing pages that directly address the needs of the user that’s coming to the site. This way we can speak to their interests and offer a relevant call to action without requiring further exploration on their part. This reduces bounce rates, increases conversion rates, and gives us great data to feed our CRM and MAT platforms.
Where do You Start?
You start with strategy. Having all of these pieces – a great sales staff and the CRM and MAT systems to support them – won’t do you a whole lot of good unless everything is tied together with a comprehensive and efficient strategy. Wondering how to even begin working through this kind of strategy?
First, you’ll need to determine your business goals. What does sales success look like for you? What metrics would you like to see? What are some milestones that should be reached along the way?
Next, you’ll need to list your current capabilities. What tools are you currently using to track sales success? Do you have a CRM? How are you communicating with clients? Can you track user flow on your website or across multiple platforms? What processes are your sales staff already using?
After that, you can assess your needs. What holes exist in the current process? What tools or processes can be put in place to help your sales staff achieve success?
Finally, you’ll need to decide on a course of action that will get you to your end goals. A good strategy will deliver a roadmap that includes ambitious but achievable action items. Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries but be realistic about what can and can’t be done with the time, money, and talent at your disposal.
Once you’ve got a strategy in place, you’ll need to actually create the infrastructure of the sales ecosystem. That’ll mean buying licenses and software, getting your sales users all set up and trained, and integrating all of the pieces with your current sales process as well as with each other. Depending on your current capabilities, you may even need to create completely new business processes as you implement your new sales tools.
Whatever your digital ecosystem ends up looking like, you need to be sure that you’re tracking and actually using the data that you’ll have at your fingertips. Measure your customer engagement and adjust your content and strategies accordingly. Track conversions to find out what actions or options tipped your leads over the edge to becoming customers. Follow the success of your sales staff and use those metrics to identify opportunities to nurture and grow them professionally. When you not only track but USE your sales ecosystem data effectively, the whole system becomes more efficient.
And an efficient digital sales ecosystem is an effective one.