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Inbound Basics: Integrating a CRM with Marketing Automation

Inbound Basics: Integrating a CRM with Marketing Automation Blog Feature

Bob Ruffolo

Founder & CEO, Keynote Speaker, Entrepreneur, Recipient of Comparably’s Best CEO ’17

July 9th, 2015 min read

inbound-marketing-basics-integrating-a-crm-with-marketing-automation.jpgThe right approach to inbound lead management can deliver game-changing results to your inbound marketing program. Unfortunately, it’s also the part of the program that far too many of the people are neglecting when we first start working with them. Fortunately, there is a solution. It all begins with integrating a CRM with marketing automation. 

What is a CRM?

For beginners, CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. When referred to as a CRM, it’s referring to a contact  database software (probably cloud-based) where all of your contacts are stored. This includes your leads, customers, past customers, employees, vendors, professional contacts, and even your friends. The ideas is that when you want to access someone’s contact information, you should be able to go to your CRM and easily find it. The largest and most popular CRM is Salesforce.com. A newer, and free, CRM is the HubSpot CRM (which is what we use here at IMPACT). CRM’s are the popular technology choice for sales teams to manage their leads.

What are leads in your CRM?

In CRM terms, a lead refers to the raw data from contact records that gets entered into the CRM. This could be from forms filled out on your website, contact lists uploaded into the CRM, contacts added from tradeshow events, etc. Often, this data is messy with missing fields, caps inconsistencies, incorrect data, and more, and it’s important that this gets cleaned up. This can be done manually by simply correcting and completing properties. It could also be done automatically using rules and workflows. HubSpot and Salesforce have the capability to do both tasks.

What leads go into your CRM?

Generally, all of your leads should go into your CRM. However, you may only want your qualified leads or sales qualified leads to go in, and that’s ok too.

If you’re using HubSpot and Salesforce, HubSpot has a native connector that makes it easy to bi-directionally sync leads with Salesforce.com in just a few clicks. HubSpot also makes it very easy for your marketing team to decide which leads go into Salesforce and which don’t.

If you’re using HubSpot and their CRM, all of your leads go directly into your CRM as contacts.

If you’re using HubSpot and don’t have a CRM, we recommend using theirs. We use the HubSpot CRM here at IMPACT and love it.

What does marketing put into the CRM?

This obviously depends on your organization, but here’s a quick checklist of things you should consider when the marketing team delivers leads to the sales team:

  • Before delivering leads to sales, marketing should make sure all lead data has been cleaned up and all important properties should be completed.
  • All leads that the marketing team expects the sales team to work should be considered sales-qualified. We’ve gone into this in greater length later in this ebook.
  • Sales should have access to all of the lead’s interactions with marketing, including pages viewed, forms completed, offers requested, how they’ve engaged with email and social media, and more. We call this lead intelligence (often collected by  tools like HubSpot). If your CRM is connected to HubSpot, this should happen automatically.

What are contacts, accounts, and opportunities?

Typically, leads are converted in your CRM and divided into 3 different records. In Salesforce, they are called contacts, accounts, and opportunities.

A contact represents the person. All data from a lead record that pertains to the person (and not the company or their need) goes on their contact record. This typically includes their phone number, email address, social media profiles, etc. In B2B, this will typically also include their job title, department, etc. In B2C, it may include demographic information such as age, gender, and location. You may also want to have a dedicated segment property setup so you can classify your contacts by what they are (prospect, customer, employee, vendor, etc.). This is what we do here at IMPACT.

An account represents the company. All data from a lead record that pertains to the company goes into the account record. This typically includes their website, number of employees, industry, revenue, etc.

An opportunity represents what they’re interested in buying, or the deal.  All data from the lead record that pertains to a deal goes into the opportunity record. Each opportunity is updated with the estimated close date, amount the deal is worth, stage of the process the deal is in (exploratory, presentation, verbal), notes from all meetings, etc. Sales leaders monitor reports from their sales opportunities to understand the organization’s current and past sales pipeline, as well as projected sales forecasts. Accurate opportunity data is critical to creating predictable, scalable revenue growth.

Using Views to Filter Information

Almost all CRMs give you the ability to create filters and save views for leads, contacts, accounts, and opportunities, and it’s recommended that you do so. Here are some examples of views that are similar to what we have here at IMPACT and what you may want to implement.

  • Leads / Contacts:
    • Leads that have 5 or more site visits and are not unqualified
    • All prospects (or all customers, all employees, all vendors, etc.)
    • Leads not connected within the last 30 days
    • Leads active on website in the last 7 days
  • Accounts / Companies
    • All target accounts (you can set criteria based on any info in database)
    • All accounts in Connecticut (or any other geographic region you may be focused on)
  • Opportunities / Deals
    • All open opportunities / deals
    • All won deals in the last 12 months
    • All new business deals / all renewals or upsells

This is not an all-encompassing list, just some ideas on views you may want to use.

It’s also important to note that all users, such as sales reps and managers, can have their own views, and should be encouraged to create views that work the best for them.

What does "Closing the Loop" mean?

When marketers say they’re closing the loop, they simply mean that sales is delivering information back to the marketing department on lead disposition—on what happened with the leads marketing supplied to sales. Was there really an opportunity? Did a deal close? How smooth was the sales process? Is the customer an ideal customer?

It’s important for marketers to receive this information, so they can analyze every interaction new customers had with your company at a macro- or micro-level and try to understand what content / information induced them to take action. From there, they can pivot their marketing efforts  to create additional marketing campaigns that produce real results while ceasing the campaigns that don’t. The data from this closed-loop process helps marketers to make smarter marketing decisions on an ongoing basis.

It’s critical to consider the value of data when building your lead management program. If you’re building your lead management program for the first time and don’t have a lot of opportunities closing per month, the process could be very simple, with someone from marketing reviewing your CRM reports on a recurring basis. But as sales opportunities grow on a monthly basis, the process becomes more complex, and will require you to  build a program that’s customized to your organization’s capabilities. In short, integrating marketing software with your CRM enables you to close the loop between sales and marketing.

So, what's next?

The content above was an excerpt from our all-new guide, Inbound Lead Management 101. In the full version, you'll learn more about integrating your CRM, measuring lead sales-readiness, segmenting, and accelerating sales with technology. Get your free copy here, right now!

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