Steph Hermanson
Oct 19, 2021
7 min read

Every aspect of your revenue operations process contributes to the success of your business. All your people, processes, technology, and data play a role in whether your prospects, leads, and customers buy from you. When everything is in alignment, you can reach the ideal goal for profitability – customer advocacy. 

To get everything and everyone into alignment with the same objective, you must properly manage and provide access to the information required for your entire team to make each customer experience the best it can be. A high-quality, easy-to-use customer relations management (CRM) software program is really the only way to do this. 

And not just any CRM will do – you need the right CRM to help optimize your B2B company’s revenue operations. 

Why Use a CRM?

When each person in your company keeps track of their business information separately (in random spreadsheets, Word Docs, Google Docs), this often leads to forgetfulness, regular breakdowns in communication, lost customer information, costly errors, and more. 

On the other hand, implementing a high-quality CRM that’s right for your business will improve communication, provide operational efficiency, increase sales productivity, assist with forecasting and reporting, and when used right, make each prospect, lead, and customer interaction exceptional – right down to shipping, delivery, and follow-up.

But I get it – choosing a CRM and getting everyone to use it can feel impossible. Maybe you’ve tried to implement one before, and it failed, or you limp along with one, but it seems like more work than worth. If you want to grow your business, it would be wise to try again. CRMs have come a long way. They are much more user-friendly when it comes to information input, tracking, sharing, and KPIs. 

You simply cannot grow without an organized, accessible information system. So, what are the steps to find the best CRM for your B2B company?

4 Main Questions to Ask to Select the Best CRM 

1. What’s my budget for a CRM? 

A CRM can be expensive. It’s difficult to tell your finance department, “This is going to be $2,000–$3,000 a month,” without proof that you’ll make more than you spend. When budgeting, it’s important to think about what you want the CRM to help you accomplish and training and potentially an administration position.

Ask, “Is this going to require an in-house expert? Is it user-friendly? For example, HubSpot has a great Academy service where you can get free certifications and tons of training. They offer these when you’re onboarding, and they do regular check-ins about every other week. Another example is Salesforce. You will need an in-house Salesforce administrator, which can be a full-time position, depending on how complex you get. Be sure to think about:

  • What can you afford outside of just the CRM software? Training? An in-house administrator’s salary?
  • What do you want to pull out of the CRM – analytics or business intelligence?
  • Do you want to manage your team by looking at great data, i.e., how many sales calls were made or the open rate of emails?
  • Do you need to pull data into a reporting tool or a Tableau dashboard?
  • Do you have an API that allows you to connect to all the data?

When you determine a budget range (or maximum) but don’t have a clue which CRM software would be the best within that budget, it helps to work with an agnostic CRM expert. This will ensure you get just what you need and not the things you don’t. Don’t let budget stop you from having a quality CRM.

Keep in mind that your CRM will be a money-maker, adding significantly to your bottom line. You may not need to spend a lot to get there, but you need to spend your money on the RIGHT system for your goals.

2. What data do we need to transfer or upload to our CRM? 

Some of you may be coming from an existing CRM system, and others might be implementing one for the first time. Either way, there is data that needs to be transferred and uploaded to ensure the CRM is set up for success.

Suppose you need to transfer or “migrate” existing CRM data. In that case, it is best to work with an IT professional, your RevOps team, the CRM company, or another business vendor partner who knows how to migrate info from one system to another, as this can be complicated. 

If your CRM is brand new, information input could be a much easier task. But that’s not always the case if you’ve been operating your business for ten years solely on spreadsheets. You’ll still need to collect your data, organize it, format the sheets correctly according to the CRM you want to install and upload. 

3. What do you need your CRM to do?

There are a lot of questions to unpack here on what you want your CRM “to do.”

  1. How many departments are going to use it?
  2. Is it just for the sales team or other departments – the marketing team, accounting, customer service, operations?
  3. What other systems are you using that you want to integrate? 
  4. Are you going to need a full-service CRM, sales, marketing customer service system?
  5. What do you like about your current system? What do you dislike?
  6. What data are you trying to collect?
  7. How are you planning to report on the data you collect? Who needs to see it?

One of the worst things I see when a company is trying to get on board with technology is when their people have 18 tabs open all the time to do their jobs. This is almost worse than having no software at all. The margin of error and the costs can be enormous. 

So what can you integrate? If you’re already using QuickBooks and Vidyard, or any other tools, you want them to be able to seamlessly integrate to make life easier. That’s the point of a CRM –  to make your world easier! So let’s not make it more complex.

Talk to your team and get a clear picture of what it needs to do, who needs to do it, and what the new process will be to make it easy for all involved. 

4. How many contacts do you have or want to have down the road?

How many email addresses or contacts do you have now? How many emails do you want to be able to send regularly? A lot of CRM systems have contact or email limitations. One CRM can be $99 a month for the first 500 contacts, or sometimes the software will allow an unlimited number of contacts, but you can only send 500 emails a month. So you need to know how you’re going to use it to be able to pare it down.

I’d also like to point out that CRMs are not just for email communication. It’s a warehouse of all the names of the people you know, either prospects, leads, or customers (kind of like the Rolodex used to be). It holds contact info and your deal pipeline information, so you know who you are talking to at any given moment. 

For example, if I am a sales rep, I can use the CRM to see that Steve has been talking to Bill at company A, so I’m not going to pursue that lead. As a sales manager, I can answer, “What are the salespeople’s engagement rates?” A CRM can do hundreds of things, which can be scary because there is really no limit. It’s only limited by your imagination, your integration power, and your budget. 

CRM Examples

CRM examples include the big names many businesspeople recognize, like Salesforce, HubSpot, or Active Campaign. MailChimp has also become more of a CRM service rather than just an email marketing platform. Most CRMs today have marketing automation built-in.

Atomic Revenue is CRM agnostic, so we use the best tool for a company’s needs. We are a HubSpot partner company, and we use HubSpot as our CRM, but in the last five years, we have only implemented it for a handful of clients. We have placed SharpSpringAgile, Salesforce, AptoGoldmineSugar, and NetSuite, among others. We are all about going through the assessment process to figure out what software is best.

Top 10 CRM Systems for B2B Companies

According to PC Magazine, these are the top 10 CRMs for 2021:

  1. Zoho CRM – Best for users who are already on the Zoho platform
  2. Hubspot – Best easy-to-use CRM for SMBs
  3. Freshsales – Best basic CRM
  4. Zendesk Sell – Best for users who are already on Zendesk products
  5. Salesforce – Best overall
  6. Less Annoying CRM – Best for startups
  7. Sales Creatio – Best for large sales teams
  8. Apptivo – Best for small business CRM
  9. Insigthly – Best for growth-stage businesses 
  10. Pipedrive – Best for deal-oriented sales teams

To get a feel for what these different platforms can do, ask your industry peers, check out online forums, or go to the manufacturer’s sites to learn as much as you can, then contact a neutral CRM expert who can help you make sense of the details and what would work best for what you’re trying to accomplish. 

RevOps People Love CRM Software Systems

If you’re a RevOps pro, seasoned or budding professional, you know that revenue operations love CRM systems! To the outsider, RevOps can make someone question what you actually do apart from other business pros. 

This is it in a nutshell: RevOps is about using subject matter expertise to look at the whole spectrum of how revenue flows through your company – end-to-end revenue production from your people, process, technology, and data – and identify what’s working and what’s not to help implement change with profitable, reproducible processes. 

RevOps professionals address CRM systems on a regular basis and are usually one of the primary ways we look at improving processes, technology, and data. This is foundational to everything a company does, from internal communications and how they talk to customers and process sales to delivering goods and services and nurturing customers. Everything is connected by tech. 

A CRM is essential to generating revenue, especially in a world where we are more remote. We want to empower all our team members to make decisions and be self-starters to have the tools they need to succeed. A CRM allows for that and for the management team to see what’s going on without the need for micromanaging. 

It also provides critical metrics and dashboards for accurate, simplified budgeting and more growth-based lead developmentsales, and customer advocacy strategy that costs less and delivers more.

Topics:

New call-to-action
Steph Hermanson

Steph Hermanson

Steph Hermanson is the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) and one of the owners of Atomic Revenue. She develops and implements revenue operations strategies and technology solutions for companies all over the United States, along with managing a coast-to-coast team of contractors and employees. As Atomic’s EOS® Integrator, she is skilled in the art of getting all departments to work toward the same goals to sustain predictable and profitable revenue streams for Atomic Revenue and our clients. Steph is also a nationally known, dynamic speaker.