A closer look at what it is and what you need to know
Recently there has been much interest on the topic of marketing and sales automation software.
Both markets have been constantly growing and are forecasted to grow even more in the next five years*. But this growth is not just due to the adoption of such software from big companies. Medium and small companies are joining the fray as well.
With these markets coming more frequently under the spotlights, many buzzwords are thrown around and names like CRM, BPM, BI and customer journey are recurring themes. But how does all this tie together?
These are all closely related and interconnected aspects that should be carefully considered when trying to automate effectively parts of your marketing and sales. This makes it hard for decision makers interested in finding a good software solution to choose the best one that can cover as many of these aspects as possible.
So, let’s do something different here and look at some of these topics one by one, while trying to tie them all together.
At the end of this article, we’ll add our own recommendation for the most comprehensive tool we can think of.
Managing your clients and leads’ information
It all starts with a CRM. Companies have long since recognized the advantages of software that enables them to keep track of customer data. It only makes sense to gather all your marketing and sale data in one place.
Ideally, you’d want your sales personnel to get easy access anytime to that data they need to increase their chances for a successful sell. The more they know about the customer at hand, the better!
And this would preferably include data that was gathered from the beginning of the process, when today’s customer was yesterday’s lead.
By doing so, a company hopes to get a 360-degree view of every interaction with its customer, no matter when, where or how it happened.
And this is precisely what CRMs are for.
CRM stands for customer relationship management. This kind of tool is the backbone of any modernized sales and marketing department, as well as the starting point for any automation effort regarding these two departments.
There are many CRM systems out there and they are all designed to be an easy to access repository of client’s information. This way, all your employees are potentially only a few clicks away from learning all there is to know regarding a promising lead or a recurring customer.
Successful implementation of a CRM system means that no details are lost or dispersed on a variety of mediums: paper notes, emails, someone’s own memory or recollection of a call. Of course, this works as well, but it’s hard to scale up a sales force like this. Even worst when you try to align your marketing people with your sales people.
So, given that all CRMs are designed to accomplish this but considering that they also are an important first step towards marketing and sales automation, what are the aspects you should pay attention to when choosing your own CRM system?
There are two things you should always keep in mind:
- make sure the CRM system you end up choosing allows you to retain the complete overview of your business
- and try to select a CRM that allows you to be as inclusive of your processes as possible
Let’s take a closer look at each point.
1. Your Ability to see the bigger picture
A CRM system will inevitably end up collecting a lot of customer data, enough to give back to you very valuable information.
When properly used, no matter the industry or the type of business you are running, this information could assist your choices when talking strategy. Or better yet, allow you to recognize and reap benefit of entirely new ones.
For obvious reasons, this becomes vital when considering marketing and sales automation. Without the ability to gain a quality overview, there is little hope to direct effectively your automation.
This is where BI comes into play.
Business intelligence is a combination of technologies and strategies focused on gathering data from different sources and on large scale, analyzing all data and transforming it into valuable information on which to base the overall direction of your company.
When correctly implemented, a BI system can allow to optimally set the right performance metrics, anticipate and predict to some extent sales fluctuations through predictive analysis, and to point out otherwise hidden patterns from your data.
Chances are that you will not be needing such a level of detailed analysis right off the bat. Also, a CRM software rarely gives the ability to its users to have a complete suite of BI tools. More often than not, this is provided by different tools that connect to your various databases.
But a CRM software that allows for an easy to set and simple to use overview can be of great benefit to you, your employees and the setup of your marketing and sales automation.
The easier it is to set up reports with graphs and charts, the more widely users of your system will use them. For one, it allows your employees to base their decisions on facts and numbers, rather than gut feeling. And of course, this will help decision makers to maintain a visual overview of the aggregate information.
And finally, as anticipated earlier, the advantages of quality reporting capabilities are far more vital when starting to think about marketing and sales automation.
This is because automation needs to rely on fresh data if you want to avoid an automation that is out of touch with clients. Nothing worse than an automated contact form sent to the client at the wrong stage. And in case this happens, a solid reporting system within your CRM could help you diagnose the problem before it does too much damage.
Although rare, there are some CRM systems out there that allow for their report to include a degree of predictive analysis. These flexible systems could prove extremely useful to set the organization’s core business towards a data-driven model, as well as pave the way for when, further down the line, a complete suite of BI tools is implemented.
2. Organizing your customer’s journey through your processes
In every company there is a long line of procedures that span from marketing to sales and eventually support.
The more these procedures are included within your CRM system, the easier it will be to benefit to the fullest from the advantages of the system. For one, this ensures a faster and easier knowledge share across departments.
It also facilitates your company to think of the process from the client’s perspective.
This plays into the idea of organizing your customer’s journey through the entirety of their experience, focusing on the whole rather than on the single marketing or sales stages.
In fact, customer journey management is an approach that companies use to provide the client with a seamless experience, to recognize early any step that might differ or is subpar from the rest of the “journey”, and to better identify which steps could be automated without the risk of automating too much.
That sounds wonderful in theory, but how can you achieve something like this?
Each company has a different way of accomplishing its own business through procedures that might be very different even among similar companies, let alone different industries.
The key here is to choose either a tool that was designed to reflect specific procedures that you happen to utilize, or a system that is flexible enough to allow you to define and customize procedures within it, according to your own internal processes.
Of course, the former might work perfectly. That is, until you need to change your processes, to adapt to the ever-changing market.
That’s why we recommend you search for the latter: a CRM tool that allows for flexibility in the definition and customization of processes. So that you don’t have to hire developers to adapt the system to new requirements or change it altogether, whenever you need to adapt your processes to reflect a change in the market.
What we recommend
With all this in mind, finding the right tool that is able to cover all of the above is not so simple.
Most companies eventually do succeed in addressing each of them, but with a plethora of different tools that they either need to connect or integrate with each other.
Among the few CRMs that incorporate all we mentioned above into one, single solution, the one that stands out the most is bpm’online.
As its name suggests, bpm’online is primarily a business process management engine, designed to flexibly define even the most complex and long processes. At the same time, it is also one of the most powerful CRM systems out there.
Its CRM capabilities are undeniable. It’s a platform that encourages collaborations between users thanks to its social media like features. But best of all, everything within the system is designed to be included within processes that are easily controlled by its primary functionality: the business process management
To that end, bpm’online does not require any knowledge of programming languages, in fact these processes are defined using the integrated visual Process designer.
It allows you to alter any process within the system in minutes, by simply dragging and dropping predefined or customizable system actions in the correct place.
These changes are effective immediately, and you don’t need to worry about your users. Bpm’online always guides them thanks to a workflow bar that clearly states what the current step requires of them and any upcoming steps. Guiding them effectively through any changes in the process.
Bpm’online also provides dashboards that are very easily set up and customizable according to each user’s preference. These allow them to analyze and monitor any kind of data within the system.
Users of the system will have the ability to select between charts, graphs, indicators, speedometers, lists, pipelines, etc. All of them allowing for an in-depth drill down of the data presented.
This gives you and your users further control of the overall process and allows for a very easily implemented automation.
Bpm’online offers a campaign designer that works similarly to the process management engine. At any given time, you can drag and drop user actions and a variety of system actions to radically change your processes or campaigns.
The latter are those that let you define in detail what part, tasks or single actions are going to be handled automatically by the system.
Best of all, among the available system actions you can choose from, you can also add machine learning and predictive analysis capabilities
This way, bpm’online gives you the ability to also set up your own BI. On top of its business process management capabilities. And its CRM functionalities. A real 360-degree solution that offers all of this within one single system.
There is really no easier way to define processes that stretch from marketing to sales, to be able to change them quickly and with ease from within the system’s interface without the fear of your users being confused.
We at diligent think that bpm’online grants the ultimate flexibility on processes with all the advantages of a powerful CRM. Automating part of your marketing and sales processes can hardly get easier than with bpm’online.
Are you interested to know more about bpm’online?