Customer relationship management (CRM) automation is the process of automating essential sales and customer service functions. It helps businesses manage and track customer and prospect engagement initiatives efficiently. In this article, we explore the difference between CRM and marketing automation tools. We also explain the key functions, components, and primary benefits of CRM automation.
CRM vs Marketing Automation
The main differences between CRM and marketing automation are their respective target users and the phase in the customer’s journey. Tools for marketing automation are used to attract potential customers by automating the lead nurturing process. This covers email template creation, content delivery, campaign workflows, and campaign analytics. Mailchimp and GetResponse are examples of robust marketing automation software.
CRM automation systems, on the other hand, are geared toward sales and customer support teams. These tools help you engage with more leads and close deals by automating data entry processes, personalized email sequences, customer interaction logs, and customer service communications. Examples of CRMs with these automation features include Salesforce Essentials and Freshsales.
5 Key Functions of CRM Automation Tools
Each CRM automation system comes with a different set of functions that help businesses manage and improve their customer relationships. Below are the five most essential features of CRM automation tools.
1. Contact Management
The contact management feature of a CRM automation tool allows you to store and manage customers’ contact data. As seen in the image above from HubSpot CRM, a contact record includes the customer’s name, email address, phone number, company details, web activities, and purchase history. Easy access to such information helps your sales reps tailor their interactions with your customers and respond more efficiently to their concerns.
Looking for the best solutions for recording your business contacts? Check out our top recommended contact management software.
2. Lead Management
The lead management function helps you track the activities and behavior of your leads to determine if they are worth pursuing or not. A CRM tool like Salesforce Essentials qualifies the leads based on several criteria like location, level of interest, and purchasing power. This data points you to areas you need to prioritize. It also automatically distributes leads to your reps according to factors such as geography, industry, and potential deal size.
Find out which lead monitoring and nurturing tool is best for your business by reading our guide on the top lead management software.
3. Document Management
A CRM’s document management system allows you to store, manage, and track sales documents like invoices, sales pitches, request for proposals (RFPs), and contracts. An excellent example is Pipedrive’s Smart Docs feature. It lets you create your own sales templates, send trackable documents, and attach e-signatures directly within the CRM app. It also facilitates easy access to all team-shared files.
CRM integrations with third-party software extend the capabilities of your CRM software and address needed features that are not included in your package. For example, integrating Freshsales with an accounting app like QuickBooks allows you to view your customers’ invoices from within the CRM. You’ll also receive notifications when a contact makes a payment.
5. Reporting & Analytics
CRM reporting and analytics tools help you optimize your sales processes and enable you to make data-driven business decisions. You’ll get an overview of your sales performance, activities, case logs, and deals. This data allows you to identify problems quickly and track your goals efficiently. Some providers, such as Zoho CRM, are equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) that can detect sales anomalies and predict future trends based on past performance.
CRM Components You Can Automate
There are various processes you can automate using CRM automation tools. Here are a few of the most common CRM components and features that can be automated:
- Reports: Instead of manually entering data to build reports, you can use your CRM to automatically generate reports based on available metrics.
- Key performance indicator (KPI) dashboards: You can customize your sales dashboards to display only the metrics you want to keep track of, such as overall sales and lead sources.
- Notifications: You can configure your CRM system to send you automatic alerts for any event, such as an upcoming task or a new deal.
- Invoices: Set the system to automatically send out an invoice each time a customer makes a purchase.
- Lead distribution: You can set up rules for the CRM system to assign leads to a sales rep based on a number of criteria, like territory, industry, or type of product.
- Pipeline stage transition: If your sales pipeline has multiple stages, you can automate the transition from one stage to another. This can be done by setting a trigger for the change, like an email about a sales call or an appointment confirmation.
- Data sync: This is especially useful for businesses that use multiple software programs. For example, you can configure your CRM to automatically create a contact record when a new lead enters your marketing automation system.
- Task assignment: The system can automatically send reps a list of tasks each time they accomplish an action. This could include sending follow-up messages after a sales call, reaching out to a contact on a particular date, or notifying the manager of a high-value opportunity.
Top Benefits of CRM Automation
CRM automation simplifies or eliminates time-consuming manual tasks in the sales and customer support processes. This frees up time for your reps, allowing them to focus their energy on more important tasks. Here are the primary benefits of CRM automation:
Increased Sales & Productivity
When you automate manual tasks, such as data entry, data updates, and emails, your sales reps have more time to engage with leads and close more deals. Less time is required to distribute leads because CRM software can automatically assign them to the most qualified reps. This also helps you gather and qualify more leads as the follow-up process becomes more efficient.
Better Sales & Marketing Collaboration
Integration is one of the key functions of CRM automation, allowing for seamless communication between your CRM app and other third-party tools. It also lets various teams access the same dashboard and collaborate on deals and opportunities. As a result, it’s easier for one rep to take over a deal or task when another team member is unavailable. Everyone has access to the same set of customer data and records of interactions.
For example, a prospect came across one of your social media marketing campaigns and decided to reach out to your company to inquire about your product and to make a purchase. With the use of a CRM, the sales team can easily trace which campaign led the prospect to your company. They can also view the history of their communication with the marketing and service teams from the centralized customer database.
Learn more about managing customer data in our article about the best customer database software.
Reporting, analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI)-powered sales forecasting provide you with excellent insight into your leads, deals, opportunities, activities, and performance. These tools help salespeople and business leaders make intelligent decisions based on real-time data. Some of the most important decisions cover customer engagement methods, agent promotion, sales campaigns, and business expansion.
Enhanced Customer Satisfaction
Automated logging of customer interactions and implementation of chatbots help you identify and address customer issues promptly. All these come together to improve customer experience and satisfaction. When customers are happy with the quality of service they receive, they become more loyal to your brand.
Read our article about how to use a CRM for customer service to learn more about how CRM software and its automation features foster satisfied customers.
CRM automation enables businesses to save time, close more deals, and improve customer engagement by simplifying sales and customer service functions. Some of the areas you can automate are task assignments, notifications, reports, and pipeline stage transitions. Automation helps your business grow through increased productivity, improved conversion rates, intelligent decision-making, and a better customer satisfaction rate.
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- Not sure if you should commit to a CRM provider? Check out our article on how to choose a CRM solution, which also features a free interactive guide.
- Get to know the different types of CRM software and see which one is best for your business.