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CRM and the data integration imperative

Companies continue to invest in Salesforce at a rapid pace. However, many aren’t getting the full return on their investment. That’s according to the recently released The State of Salesforce 2022-2023 report from IBM.

Specifically, the report highlights that immature data integration strategies are holding many companies back from unlocking the full value of their Salesforce investments:

  • Just 14% of customers surveyed claim their businesses have an innovative data integration strategy.
  • Only one-third (33%) claim their businesses have integrated all the data they need to deliver strategic outcomes in Salesforce.

The study pointed to the value of using integration software to reduce friction, cut down manual work, and provide transparency and insight across a company’s data sources:

“Enterprises that want to move up the maturity curve and provide a true 360-degree experience for customers need to embed their data integration strategy into their digital culture. This progress is achieved through technology integrations that enable data sharing, automation, and transparency.” 

Data In, Insights Out

Introhive’s CEO, Jody Glidden, founded Introhive with the vision of addressing this all-too-common CRM challenge.

He recently weighed in on this topic in a discussion with Ben McCarthy, Founder of SalesforceBen.com, the world’s largest Salesforce news platform. 

“At Introhive, we’ve built our business around helping companies of all sizes maximize the value of their CRM systems,” says Jody. 

“While CRM systems are a powerful lever that can help businesses keep their sales teams organized and pulling in the same direction, many organizations struggle to move beyond the basics. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the platforms; it’s just really difficult to extract meaningful insights, especially in larger enterprises where there may be thousands or even tens of thousands of people using the platform.

“Getting the data into your CRM system is the easy part; getting relevant insights out can be more tricky.”

A Data Ingestion Engine

Introhive helps companies overcome this issue by providing tools that overlay enterprises’ CRM systems. Our platform ensures that a constant, real-time flow of actionable, and relevant customer insights is channeled to the right people at the right time. 

Jody explains that Introhive serves up relationship intelligence by ingesting data from several internal systems, including calendars, emails, phone calls, marketing campaign outreach, and in-person meetings and events. 

“Essentially, the tool allows organizations to see precisely ‘who knows who’ and where the strongest customer relationships lie. This not only accelerates the sales cycle; it also often uncovers ‘white-space’ or ‘multi-thread’ opportunities, for example, by flagging existing but previously unknown relationships between senior stakeholders in certain accounts.”

Another cool feature of Introhive’s platform is that it keeps your salespeople and other stakeholders up-to-date with the latest developments within customers’ organizations – such as new, senior-level appointments or departures, share prices, or mergers and acquisitions – in the form of a customizable weekly email delivered to their inboxes. This makes preparing for customer meetings so much easier.

Presenting a United Front

Having access to rich, relevant relationship intelligence also lets salespeople front-load their customer interactions and avoid any duplication of effort. 

The last thing you want is a situation where a salesperson starts asking a customer questions that they’ve already answered to someone else in your business! You need to present a united front to your customers at all times.

Over the last year or so, the value of having access to real-time relationship intelligence has become amplified, given the Great Resignation that’s swept across all industries. If key people leave their positions – whether within your organization or the customer’s – it’s better to find out sooner than later!

Clearing Adoption Hurdles

Ben agrees, adding, “Even if you’re running Salesforce, arguably the most powerful CRM in the world, and have the smartest salespeople and rigorous CRM training and adoption programs in place, your efforts could still fall short of expectations.” 

Introhive helps solve the problem of user adoption – one of the most common headaches associated with CRM systems. Too often, busy schedules and tight deadlines mean that people simply don’t have time to input and update CRM data manually. Introhive works quietly in the background, gathering and synthesizing information in real time and delivering it to the right people at the right time, through their preferred channel(s), for example, Slack, Outlook, Zoom, or directly in Salesforce.

Because the process of gathering data is so highly automated, the CRM system already has all the signals. When a salesperson sits down at their desk first thing in the morning, it knows where the opportunity is in the stage cycle, who they’ve been speaking to within a specific account, and who they haven’t yet spoken to but should be. That makes for a productive start to every day.

The Burning Question: ROI

As with any digital tool, the burning question that most CFOs want to be answered when considering allocating budget to CRM investments or upgrades is, “Can you show me the ROI?” 

Here are a few ways that integrated CRM systems contribute to the bottom line:

  • Revenue growth: During a recession, it makes good business sense to focus on the customers you have and look for ways to cross- and-upsell. Gathering rich insights about each and every customer will ensure you close those all-important opportunities faster.
  • Productivity: In a downturn, every dollar counts, so you need to ensure that your sales teams are organized and productive and focus their attention on where the best opportunities lie.
  • Less attrition: Giving everyone tools they enjoy using and that put them in a strong position to hit their quotas will increase their job satisfaction. It will also make it less likely for them to pursue roles outside the organization, which can lead to significant recruitment and training costs. 
  • Succession planning: In the unfortunate event that one of your star salespeople moves on, you’re at less risk of losing their key accounts as you’ve built up a solid repository of insights about each one.

Post-Sale Continuity

The benefits of achieving tight integration of customer data within your CRM systems continue well beyond the time the customer signs on the dotted line. 

With a system like Introhive, when sales hands the deal over to your customer success, support, operations teams, and marketers who are using a tool like Tableau, those parties gain access to a wealth of insights that put them on track to fulfilling their roles to the best of their ability.

Summing Up

Over the next few years, data-driven businesses will outperform those that aren’t. And becoming truly data-driven won’t happen unless you access and aggregate meaningful relationship intelligence and use it correctly. 

Integration is the unsung hero of CRM success.

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