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Avadyne's Director of Demand Gen on How to Choose a Great CRM

By Stephanie HawkinsJun 3, 2016

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As the new Director of Demand Generation and Marketing at Avadyne Health, Christine Hanson-Ehlinger was tasked with building the company’s inbound marketing and lead generation strategy and program from the ground up. Selecting a CRM and integrating it with a marketing automation platform to optimize lead nurturing, prioritization and conversion were the first steps.

Christine-hanson-best-crm-practicesWe sat down with Hanson-Ehlinger to discuss a topic that’s top of mind for many marketers these days: How to choose a great CRM, and what CRM best practices to put in place.

One question marketers often have is how to route the inbound leads they generate. For example, should all leads who fill out a form be routed to a sales rep, or only leads that score as marketing qualified? Can you tell us how you’ve designed your lead flow process at Avadyne?

We have a business development qualifier and use workflows to manage the flow of potential leads on our website. The business developer assists in monitoring, analyzing and nurturing the actions of the form filler, MQL and SQL, in addition to the automated workflow.

This gives our sales reps a “teed-up” lead. Our HubSpot platform integrates with our CRM, so at any given time our sales team can see who is filling out forms, visiting pages on the website, reading blogs, viewing videos and interacting with or downloading our content.

Content is used to inform, educate and influence, and our workflows are used to nurture and drive further engagement in the lead/buyer journey. Our sales team can also monitor their prospects and clients at any given time with the HubSpot/CRM integration. They stay abreast, can participate in the qualification and watch lead scoring for the right opportunity to engage in further conversation.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced with CRM adoption?

Sales accountability and adoption are probably the biggest challenges. Understanding and adopting new ways of doing sales and getting teams to embrace a new technology platform are others.

Are there any tips or tricks you’ve used to ensure a successful CRM adoption process?

First, selecting a CRM that is robust, but right-sized and innately simple to use is key. Secondly, training is crucial—it helps our reps find the shortcuts and reporting to make their lives easier, making the CRM useful and not burdensome.

What would you say the benefit of a CRM is from a marketer’s perspective?

A CRM is critical for segmenting prospects and buyers and understanding persona behaviors. The more insight marketing automation and sales can lend to that exercise, the better. A CRM used well provides the data you need to measure ROI.

What is your best advice for marketers who are just getting started with CRM and sales enablement?

I've always felt that the CRM's importance beyond pipeline management is being a repository for the intellectual assets of the company—the client list, the prospect list, etc., making it simple for sales and customer service teams to capture crucial information. Let's face it, salespeople or customer teams can come and go. In order to not have that disrupt customer service or the business as a whole, it's critical to enforce accountability to using a CRM, so you know the status of an account at any time.

In addition, coming from a business owner or executive perspective, keep it simple. Owners and teams in any size business, have so many hats to wear. The simpler you can make the CRM and the sales process, allows you to put more focus on what's important—your customers, building new business and delivering great service.

Here are Hanson-Ehlinger’s top seven criteria for choosing a CRM.

Simplicity: Make sure it's simple to set up, administer and use. Ensure it has just enough customization without over-complicating it. Make sure the implementation team will be helpful moving your data from another CRM, if that is the case. Make sure it has an excellent mobile app with full functionality.

Support: The support team must be responsive and help you find solutions to any question by phone, by chat or by email right away and at no extra cost. It has to have a great knowledge center that has written step-by-step directions, as well as short training videos that are helpful.

Cost: The cost needs to be reasonable to the features you need. Don't overpay for services you don't need. Pick the right size for the functionality you need. Don't purchase a CRM that's made for a 200-person team when you're a team of 10. Do a business case analysis and competitor functionality between CRMs.

Expertise: Ensure the company from whom you purchase your CRM has a deep understanding of sales, business and why companies in varying industries—specifically yours—use a CRM. Make sure they understand how to build adoption of a CRM. Ensure they value customer input, are nimble and have a process for providing suggestions on ways to make their CRM even better.

Adoption: Make sure the CRM is plug-and-play and has user experience in mind. This way you'll make adoption easier for your sales team and other internal teams who will have access. Tie in your finance department; they need to understand how to create reports that drive accurate sales projections and revenue reporting. Tie in anyone who has direct access to your customers. They can often be the ears to the ground with customers, even when the sales rep can't be there. They can listen for upsell opportunities or identify when there are customer problems brewing. The more informed they can keep the salesperson the better you will provide service to your customers.

Training tools: Keep training tools simple, such as screenshots of CRM functions along with easy-to-understand tips or directions in one small guide specific to your company that the sales team can access within the CRM. Include a revision date so you can update with new information as common questions arise. Have users take a short interactive “test” to find specific information or create tasks, for example, to build immediate familiarity with using the CRM.

An hour or two of group training suffices with the sales team and then follow up for one-on-one specific questions as they come up. Provide a resource they can go to for answers and solve problems as they happen. The easier you make it, the better the adoption.

Reporting: Test the reporting. Make sure it's easy to export to Excel and make pivot tables that the finance area of your business is accustomed to using. Ensure it's easy for marketing to segment lists for campaigns and integrate with their marketing automation platform. Be sure sales management can monitor activities, establish goals and automate reports to check the progress in the pipeline. Sales reps should be able to segment their customers and prospects from the entire universe of contacts and track their progress to goal.

We’re thrilled to have had the chance to discuss CRM use among marketers with Christine Hanson-Ehlinger.

Sales Enablement and CRM guide

Additional Topics: Marketing Automation
The Author

Stephanie Hawkins

Stephanie is a Strategist at Kuno Creative and writes about content marketing, buyer persona development and inbound marketing strategy for Brand & Capture. She lives and works in Raleigh, NC. Connect with Stephanie on LinkedIn and Twitter!
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