The B2B buying environment is complex and often multifaceted. With heavy workloads and high goals, one thing remains consistent across the board: strong business relationships help close deals and drive company growth. But how do you keep track of contact history and provide visibility company-wide all while keeping your sales and marketing teams aligned? Queue Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and B2B CRM strategy.
CRM software revenues are now the largest of all software markets with revenues expected to reach over $80 billion by 2025.
What is a B2B CRM
According to Salesforce, a B2B CRM stands for Business to Business Customer Relationship Management and refers to systems, technologies, strategies, and processes that help B2B companies manage their relationships with existing and potential customers. It helps companies better understand contacts, their needs, and where they are in the buyer’s journey as it relates to your business.
Why Invest in a B2B CRM
B2B CRMs should really be thought of as a strategic way of understanding, managing, and delivering on business customers’ needs at each stage of the buyer’s journey. They really are what you make of it, but here are three main reasons why you should take the plunge and invest in a CRM and drive alignment for your internal teams.
B2B CRMs provide visibility system-wide and are single-handedly the best solution for keeping a real-time pulse on your contact database and sales cycle ecosystem. Even smarketing meetings (sales and marketing alignment team meetings) can’t provide you with the same kind of real-time feedback across teams.
Have a question on a contact? Or are you wondering overall how leads that come from paid media are performing? Your answers lie in the CRM.
We’re big fans of working smarter and not getting bogged down with busy work or meetings for meetings sake. You might be thinking that CRMs create more work because of all the necessary input which is only partially true. It does take time to adjust your daily processes to a CRM, but once you do, your teams will likely find that they are more efficient with contact follow up and reporting, and actually are able to spend more time selling and focusing on target accounts. And as an added bonus, marketing has better insight into marketing qualified lead performance as well, resulting in the ability to hone in lead quality vs quantity.
Data-Driven Decision Making
Whether you’re looking for a bird’s eye view or you like getting down and dirty with the details, CRMs undoubtedly provide insight into the data. You can view account activity, pipeline, close rates, and more. You’ll also be able to turn your hunches into a data-driven decision. For example, let’s say you think that the majority of your prospects in a certain industry sign when you can get them to a demo. A CRM would allow you to confirm that in the data and then you could spend your time focusing on how to get more prospects in the said industry to demo faster.
Getting Started with Your B2B CRM Strategy
B2B CRMs should really be thought of as a strategic way of understanding, managing, and delivering on business customers’ needs at each stage of the buyer’s journey. The CRM technology itself is what enables the strategy and makes it possible.
So where to start? Here are our 6 proven B2B CRM strategies that fuel sales and marketing alignment and business growth.
Related Reading: Is a HubSpot CRM Right for You? 7 Questions to Consider
Get Teams Speaking the Same Language
CRMs are great, but they’re only as good as in the information you put it in and it’s really difficult to increase usage if everyone has different definitions of some of the basics. Everybody needs to be speaking the same language and have a common understanding of what is critical for your CRM. And trust us, it’s better to iron out the basics sooner in the process rather than later.
Lifecycle Stages & Lead Statuses
Lifecycle stages and lead statuses may differ slightly in naming depending on your platform, but the purpose behind them likely doesn’t. Lifecycle stages signify what stage your contact is in the buyer’s journey and lead status provides an extra layer of detail as to where they are at exactly. Here are the most common definitions we use across our partnerships.
- Subscriber: Contacts who know of your business and have opted in to hear more from your team. This is likely visitors that have signed up for your blog or newsletter.
- Lead: Contacts who have shown sales-readiness beyond being a subscriber. An example of a lead is a contact who signs up for a content offer from your business.
- Marketing Qualified Lead: Contacts who have engaged with the team’s marketing efforts, but are still not ready to receive a sales call. An example of an MQL is a contact who responds to a specific form in a marketing campaign.
- Sales Qualified Lead: A contact that your sales team has qualified as a potential customer.
- Opportunity: A contact who is a real sales opportunity.
- Customer: A contact with a closed deal(s).
- Prospect: No marketing automation. Contacts with this lead status are being hunted by sales.
- New: All new leads will be assigned this status by default.
- Open: A lead that is currently being worked by sales.
- In Progress: A connection has been and the lead is in progress.
- Open Deal: There is an open deal with the contact.
- Attempted to Contact: Sales is attempting to contact or follow up with a lead.
- Connected: Sales has connected with the contact.
- Unqualified: Lead is not qualified to do business.
Pro Tip: Identify your lifecycle stages and statues as part of your Service Level Agreement. Learn more about Lake One’s SLAs here.
Contact Field Basics & Defaults
You’ll also want to work with key stakeholders to define your default required fields. For any field that has a dropdown, you’ll want to make sure those are well-defined among internal teams as well. The basics range from specific contact information needed down to current solution provider, market or buying role. Most CRMs will allow you to customize fields to your business needs.
Pro Tip: Think wisely about the field ‘type’ you select when creating properties as it’s nearly impossible to use a single line text field in list segmentation or workflows. This is due to the room for error in data input. For workflow usable data, dropdown selects are one of my favorites! We reserved single line text for fields like phone numbers, addresses, notes, etc.
Segment Contacts for Personalized Communication
Personalization in a B2B email can improve click-through rate by as much as 14% and conversion rates by 10%. Personalization starts with list segmentation. Of course it can come in to play via the actual insertion of personalization tokens (names, role, etc.), but deciding who you are communicating with is the first step.
B2B CRMs allow you to segment contacts by where they are at in the buyer’s journey (lead, customer, MQL), their product interest, industry, etc. without needing to think about each contact and manually emailing a custom communication. This is also critical for sales and marketing alignment and allows both teams to tailor communications. Get more tips on writing B2B sales emails here.
Close the Feedback Loop in Real-Time
A key component of sales and marketing alignment is closing the feedback loop between sales and marketing. It’s absolutely essential that sales provides feedback on lead quality and lead status in real-time.
Closing the feedback loop entails:
- Sales communicating a lead is rejected
- Sales communicating why a lead is rejected (poor timing, bad contact information, no budget, etc.)
- Communication on when lead nurturing is taking place
- Communication on if and when to resume lead nurturing once it’s been paused
All of the above is made possible by a B2B CRM in a relatively quick and painless way.
Leverage Lead Scoring That’s Based on Engagement
Lead scoring is a systematic and scientific way of ranking leads based on their readiness to purchase a product or service from your company. Scores are assigned to certain criteria such as a lead’s fit for your product or service, expressed interest through different activities like filling out a form or watching a webinar, and position in the buying cycle.
Lead Scoring provides a reliable, predictable, recurring means for deciding which leads are sales-ready, and ordering them by importance takes the guesswork out for both teams.
Lead scoring can be done by either using explicit data/demographics and/or implicit data/actions or behavior. A B2B CRM allows you to track and gather implicit data more easily such as: email opens, click-through-rates, key page views, and form fills. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to track and leverage the data across teams.
Related Reading: Lead Scoring Basics
Universal Deal Stages & Pipelines That Reflect Sales Cycles
Pipelines and deal stages help to break down complex B2B buying cycles into a measurable process that’s easily digestible. Whether you have an established sales process or you’re starting from scratch, B2B CRMs like HubSpot make it easy to create your ideal process.
Most processes of course start with a meeting and end either in closed won or closed lost. The pipeline gives you visibility into what’s in process, when things will hit, and most importantly, what’s stuck in the process.
Use Forecasting & Reporting to Better Manage Teams
B2B CRMs like HubSpot really shine when it comes to taking your data inputs and turning it into dashboards and usable reporting. Maybe you could create manually? But the time savings and accuracy that come with CRMs are too good to pass up. Here are a few ways to leverage CRM data for forecasting and better managing your teams.
Related Reading: 6 KPIs for Sales & Marketing Alignment
Sales Team Activity: View activities by sales rep on a rolling basis. Activity includes number of calls, meetings, emails, new contacts, deals closed, etc. It’s easy to see top performers and those who might be phoning it in.
Forecasting Deal Revenue: Get a clear view of what’s coming down the pipe associated with the deal stage and its likelihood to close. The benefit of these reports are two-fold. It keeps your sales reps accountable knowing that their estimates will be used in reporting and it also allows you to better forecast.
About Sales & Marketing Alignment Services at Lake One
At Lake One, technology is at the core of all our sales and marketing thinking. We call these services basecamp.
- We work with our partners to make sure their basecamp is “right sized” for their organization.
- That the goals and strategy are leading the technology choices and not the other way around.
- But most of all – that the technology is embraced and providing value to the organization.