crm-new-business

Data is the word on every marketer's lip — they want more data, more insights, and more ways to use that data.

But many agencies lack a system to capture and understand their own data, and this is especially important in the sales and nurturing process.

Forecasting and predictions have their place, but the most valuable way to understand your agency's sales cycle — including who is most likely to close and who is most likely to become a long-term client — is by collecting and extracting insights from the past.

And you can't do this without collecting data and information about your past wins and loses. A customer relationship management (CRM) platform can record all this information and more.

We asked a group of agency executives why a CRM is essential in their new business efforts. Here are 15 reasons why you should invest:

1) Systemize Your Sales

Using a CRM has systemized our business development efforts. This means I don't have to be the only employee generating business. Instead, I can trust other employees to identify and contact potential employers — often better than I can.

- Scott Meyer, CEO | 9 Clouds

2) Understand a Prospect's Triggers

Winning business today comes down to understanding the triggers that moved a prospect to take action. Did a lead come to our site through a blog post on marketing ROI or running Facebook contests? Each of these initial interests creates a very different first conversation. Using a CRM that brings a lead's timeline into view can help agency sales reps quickly identify those trigger points while they're prepping for the conversation. It can also help them better align the marketing follow-up the call by adjusting a lead's lifecycle stage or activating a workflow that may resonate well with that prospect.

- Andrew Dymski, Co-Founder | GuavaBox

3) Set Reminders to Prevent Lapses in Communication

Many agencies do not have dedicated sales personnel; sales falls on the shoulders of the owner who is already overworked and constantly multitasking between biz ops, managing a team, performance of daily responsibilities, and trying to bring new sales through the door.

In this type of hectic environment, sales activities can sometimes take a backseat to production if the shop is overburdened with work. And as sales prospects don't normally trust the agency yet, it is imperative to provide them with a very positive initial experience. Agencies cannot afford to have sales activities slip through the cracks and run the risk of losing a prospect. Prospects are precious to the agency. They must be treated with care.

A CRM helps alleviate the burden associated with the 'wearing multiple hat' problem, and prevents the poor prospect experience that can result from even small delays or lapses in communication, negligence in providing check-ins, etc. Utilization of a CRM should help smaller agencies keep their sales process organized and on-point in a way that inbox flagging and memory cannot replicate, and in doing so, also shorten the sales cycle.

- Mike Skeehan, Managing Partner | Salted Stone, Inc.

4) House Your Data

Your CRM is the heart and soul of your agency, and it's your single most important asset. Why? Because a well-managed CRM is the distillation of every single business relationship your company has ever had: every customer, every sale, every lead and prospect, and every business partner. It has a full record of your relationship with each of them. If we at ClearPivot were to lose our physical assets: computers, desks, chairs, etc., it would be a minor setback. If we were to lose our CRM data, it would be a disaster.

- Chris Strom, Principal | ClearPivot

5) Know What's Important

A CRM for me boils down to one simple point: You have to be organized as a team in this fast-moving digital landscape. There are so many moving parts to every inbound campaign, and a CRM allows sales and marketing teams to focus on where a contact is during their buyers journey. With a CRM you are able to easily pay attention to what is most important when dealing with contacts, companies, deals, and most importantly, revenue.

- George Thomas, Inbound & Brand Strategist | The Sales Lion

6) Discover a Lead's Challenges

The greatest benefit of a CRM is its ability to serve as a repository for lead intelligence. If you can see a prospect's interactions with your digital marketing assets, you can gain insights into the issues and challenges he faces.

- Alan Vitberg, Owner | VitbergLLC

7) Find — and Close — More Deals

In today's competitive market for marketing services agencies, it's essential to find not only qualified client companies but also companies that are an ideal fit for your services. A CRM married to a lead intelligence system like HubSpot allows your business development team to get to know their prospects well before the first conversation occurs. This enables you to run a lean operation, with a minimum of waste in the sales process, and it can dramatically increase your chances of finding, closing, and retaining customers that will stay with you, and prosper, for years to come.

- John McTigue, EVP and Co-Owner | Kuno Creative

8) Uncover Insights on Missed and Lost Opportunities

If you want your agency to grow, you have to manage your opportunities as effectively as possible. You can't miss sales by failing to follow up. The best way for busy business owners to stay on top of their sales opportunities is to use a CRM. The CRM allows you to keep a concise and organized history of your prospects, which is critical to a successful sales cycle. It also provides clarity over time to potential issues in your sales process as the ability to review all past deals with complete data can uncover commonalities across lost opportunities. If you want your agency to capture as many new clients as possible, make the investment into a CRM.

- Eric Pratt, Managing Partner | Revenue River Marketing

9) Create a Consistent Sales Cycle

The No. 1 reason to use a CRM is to ensure that all of your prospects go through a consistent sales process. Reps can be forgetful, so using a CRM to automate certain workflows and activities will help to reduce errors.

- Trent Dyrsmid, CEO | Groove Digital Marketing

10) Measure and Improve

What gets measured improves. CRM systems (when utilized), allow and force you to measure your sales pipeline. If you want to increase sales, you need to use a CRM.

In addition, a CRM helps you follow a sales process, moving leads to different stages of the sales funnel. By doing this, you can identify if leads are getting stuck in certain parts of the funnel. If they are, work with marketing to address some of the questions or concerns at these 'sticking points' and improve your process over time.

- Spencer Powell, Inbound Marketing Director | Inbound Educators

11) Maintain Your Focus

If you're busy delivering great customer service to your agency clients, it's easy to lose track of sales and let your pipeline go soft. Our CRM helps us stay focused and organized, and allows me to collaborate more easily on deals with other team members. I can see my entire pipeline, understand our deal flow, and plan more easily for growth. We've integrated our CRM with our marketing automation tool, so we also gain valuable insight into how prospects have been engaging with our online content before we talk to them.

- Marisa Smith, Head Brainiac | The Whole Brain Group

12) Understand the Context of Interactions

If you're serious about staying in business and growing your business, a CRM is critical. Fact: You will not remember every detail of every interaction. If you're not tracking customer interaction information across your team, you're missing out on the context you need to truly understand your leads and provide relevant information to your customers.

Smart companies use a CRM system to make sure that everyone in their organization can pick up a conversation with a prospect or customer without having to backtrack over previously covered information.

With the documented context of your prospect's entire interaction with your company, your sales team should be able to jump in, provide relevant value right away, and shorten the sales cycle by leveraging the detailed intelligence in your CRM.

- Gray MacKenzie, Co-Founder | GuavaBox

13) Create More Valuable Conversations

A CRM is the sales equivalent of HubSpot for Inbound Marketing -- it's the tool that organizes efforts, tracks results, and provides transparency into the sales process.

There are 3 beneficiaries of a good CRM: 1) VP of sales gets better insight into the activities and sales forecasts of her team; 2) Sales people are more organized and provide more valuable, personable interactions with prospects; 3) Marketers get better insights into the effectiveness of the leads being generated.

Even small agencies with one or two sales people can benefit from a CRM for collaboration, recordkeeping, and deal flow. At Knowmad, we've used several CRM solutions over the years. As our agency and contacts grow, it's vital to have a record of conversations, emails, and customer intelligence available to be more engaging partners to our clients and create more valuable conversations with prospects.

- William McKee, Partner | Knowmad

14) Set the Standard for Clients

If you've ever complained that your clients don't appreciate the value of the sales qualified leads you create for them and don't follow up effectively and you're wondering if you should use CRM internally? Here's your sign.

Agencies need to hold themselves to the highest standard they expect of clients and model the tools and practices they recommend.

- Ed Marsh, Founder | Consilium Global Business Advisors

15) Uncover the Most Beneficial Marketing Tactics

While it is beneficial to use a CRM internally to sort leads in your sales team and follow up on open prospects, it is even more integral to get your clients using it. Without the closed loop analytics provided by a CRM, it is very difficult to know which tactics are producing the best leads. If your marketing strategy team can't refine their tactics based on feedback from the customer's sales team, you can't increase the overall success rate in any reliable and continuous manner.

- Shawn Fitzgerald, VP, Digital Media | ThomasNet RPM

Originally published Oct 13, 2014 3:00:12 AM, updated July 28 2017

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Using a CRM