In the CRM industry, an integration is the bridge or connection point between two different software applications that allow them to work together.
Integrations share and exchange information across platforms so you don’t have to keep switching between applications or adding duplicate information over and over again.
Overall, integrations make your CRM much smarter, and increase the likelihood of your sales reps using your CRM correctly because there is no learning curve in using their existing software. Integrations offer clear benefits to sales reps whether they are embedded in the CRM natively, through webhooks, or through a third party like Zapier. For sales reps, the benefits of integrations are instant and can help you:
- Get organized: Centralize your communications and calendar activities.
- Focus: Conduct all your sales activities in the software of your choice with the comfort that they will be centrally tracked.
- Save time: Spend less of your day importing/exporting contacts and activities.
The critical apps in successful sales exchanges include email and calendar sync, marketing automation, document management, customer support, and accounting. Let’s take a closer look at each of these important CRM integrations below.
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Email and calendar sync
Email and calendar sync centralize your email and calendar activities between your CRM and your business or personal email.
Most CRM’s have a native integration of Gmail, Office 365 or both. If you are using a different email, you can usually use SMTP to bring those emails into your CRM. When you send an email from your CRM or your email provider, it automatically syncs with that person or company inside your CRM.
With the calendar sync, you only have to look at one calendar for your activities instead of two. If you don’t have your email and calendar synced, you’re adding complexity to your day, as well as every sales rep’s enemy: unnecessary busy work.
The next integration that matters to successful sales reps is marketing automation—the ability to automatically send bulk emails about new products, initiatives, or programs to prospects or existing customers, all with a personal touch.
With marketing automation integrations, a sales rep can keep their finger on the pulse of each account, staying informed and meeting their clients’ needs. Most marketing automation applications offer customizable templates so you can create the look and feel you want depending on your purpose and what you are trying to achieve.
The other positive aspect of having an email marketing integration is that when you add a new person or company to your CRM, that person or company is automatically added to the marketing automation software so you can skip the manual entry across platforms. The same goes for if you lose a customer or subscriber—your lists are always in sync.
Many marketing automation programs also help you track the email open rate and how well a drip campaign is performing and provide this information to you in reports. SMB marketing automation favorites include MailChimp and Constant Contact.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could create proposals and quotes without leaving your CRM? That’s exactly why sales reps need a document management integration. However, creating the document is only one aspect. You can also have those applications speak to each other such as automatically sending a proposal after the sales reps moves the deal to the next stage.
These systems can manage electronic signatures, as well as automatically adding the names and addresses from your contacts directly from your CRM, avoiding mistakes and manual entry. Pandadoc and WebMerge are popular among sales reps.
Customer Support doesn’t start and stop at the help desk. In fact, more and more sales teams are keeping track of their customers via customer support tickets inside their CRMs.
The value these systems provide extends well beyond the sales team. Often, customer support addresses all problems that include everything from engineering issues, not being able to make a webinar that they registered for, and billing assistance. Being able to @-mention a team member goes a long way to instantly including them in the discussion and resolving the problem much faster; all notes and actions are also included so a team member recently added to a ticket can quickly catch up.
The last thing you want is for one of your top 10 customers to have a challenge that you know nothing about, only to find out that you could have been at least silently watching the progress or jumping in to help get an issue resolved quicker. Our customers are happy using Zendesk and LiveChat for facilitating customer support.
Accounting and purchasing
Generating sales orders and purchase orders are also important. In small businesses, this is typically done by the rep himself. He either has to create the entire document from scratch, use a template or call someone in finance or another department to get it generated.
Either way, it would be more efficient if these sales and purchase orders were automatically generated when the status of her deal changed or was triggered by another event. Integrations do exactly this! This way, everything can be better timed and there is less of a chance of something slipping through the cracks.
Go for impact
CRMs in the SMB market all have similar features and functionality—vendors may disagree on what feature offers the most value for a sales rep or team but one thing we can all agree upon is that not having software integrations is a deal breaker.
Maximize your sales reps’ day by making sure they have the ability to automate as many processes as possible, and CRM integrations that add the most value to a sales reps day, such as email and calendar sync, is a great place to start. Stay focused, get organized, and save time by using a CRM that has impactful integrations with the software that your team uses the most.