Integrate community and CRM solutions & alleviate sales challenges

Sales Challenges series, part 3

Over the last two articles in the Sales Challenges series (here and here), we’ve delved into the sales challenges revolving on messaging, prospecting and closing sales.  We also identified using online community and CRM solutions to resolve these challenges.

Today, I want to close the loop by discussing the benefits of integrating these solutions together to further mitigate sales challenges.


Watching and capturing behavioral data

Your online community is a great source of behavioral data for your marketing and sales activities, during both the lead nurturing phase of the customer life-cycle as well as during the sales process.  Your CRM can capture and store that data for you.

To get the most bang, though, you’ll want to connect your online social network with your CRM. Here’s why.

How frequently your prospects participates in your community gives your company the intelligence needed to effectively score leads and gage a prospects readiness for Sales to begin the sales process.  For example, consider their frequency of engagement in your company’s various community options as well as what they’re looking at (user discussions, wikis, download of product papers, viewership of webinars, etc).

To be effective at watching and capturing, you’ll need to integrate your community and CRM solutions so that as prospects bop around your communities you can track their activities.  A good CRM will also allow you to automate lead scoring so that as your prospects activities increase or decrease, their lead score will change.

The next step is to automate triggers to Sales once a lead reaches a qualified score level.  The best triggers will also include automated routing to an appropriate sales rep based on criteria such as geographic location, product type, or even account name.

In addition to automating your marketing and sales activities, your CRM can also be used to analyze your results which means you gain greater refinement in your prospecting process – and greater opportunity for sales.


Which solution?

In my first article in the Sales Challenges series, I highlighted functional attributes to look for in your community solution and in the second, CRM attributes.

When you consider them together, a good CRM solution will allow you to integrate with your online community and a good community solution will provide the integration hooks either through specific APIs or a developer’s work bench.

No matter what CRM and community solution you use, though, be sure that the two play well together or you’ll limit your ability to automatically capture relevant data, including behavioral data about your prospects.



Yes, the market is tight.  Yes, it requires nimble and tenacious marketing and sales staffs to retain and even expand revenues in this market.  And yes, to help you achieve that nimbleness you may well have to invest in community and CRM solutions.

The question to ask yourself, though, is can you afford not to?  In making your thumbs up or down decision, consider your current cost of sales versus what additional revenues you could save by implementing an integrated CRM / community solution (and just as importantly, what the value of the lower cost of sales will be).  Let the numbers point you towards the right decision.

Intellicore Design Consulting are IT implementers of both Salesforce and GroupSwim solutions.

First and foremost, though, we’re business strategy experts.  Don’t hesitate to contact us if you’d like expert help to brainstorm or cultivate a business strategy that integrates community and CRM solutions.


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