Data-driven organizations are strategic when it comes to collecting and organizing CRM data.

But how can your company be strategic when data are created and stored in so many different locations and formats? Email inboxes, social media sites, document repositories, and other third-party software tools are just a few of the places where your data live.

Integrating your CRM is certainly an option, but where should you start? Is integration worth the effort?

In this post we’ll explore CRM integrations and discuss five important integrations to consider in 2020.

Why use CRM integrations?

Before we dive into specific integrations to consider in 2020, let us first examine why CRM integrations are necessary. After all, you’ve already made a considerable investment in your CRM. Shouldn’t it do everything you need without relying on other systems?

Not exactly. Here’s why.

Even the best CRM can’t do everything 

Last time I checked, no CRM will run a profit and loss report or statement of cash flow. Nor should it. And, although CRM technology continues to advance and encompass more aspects of daily life for businesses, the reality is that CRMs are not built to support every process and workflow. System consolidation can be wise, but total elimination of non-CRM technology is simply infeasible (at least in 2020). Therefore, integrating mission-critical apps to your CRM makes good sense.

Some tools become more useful when enriched by data stored in your CRM

You’ve put great effort into making your CRM the central source of truth for your organization. Maximize the usefulness of that data by making it accessible in other mission-critical apps, such as email inboxes and team collaboration platforms.

Not every team member requires direct access to your CRM 

Sales, marketing, and project teams tend to be the heaviest users of CRM technology. That being said, there are many other teams who do not (or should not) require access to your CRM. Does your freelance graphic designer really need a CRM license? Perhaps not. On the other hand, she does interact with customer-related projects. What’s the right answer? Integrating her workspace to your CRM could be the perfect solution.

Managing customer relationships is messier than ever

Managing relationships is messier than ever

No matter how much thought you put into engineering the perfect customer journey, some relationships do not fit into a nice and tidy box. Creating additional web-to-lead forms and autoresponder emails will never stop some customers from circumventing your ideal workflow. In today’s digital world, customers have more ways to engage your company than ever before.

Building integrations to third-party platforms (in particular to social media and email) makes your company better prepared to handle these situations, avoid data loss, and elevate customer relationships.

Integrate these five things in 2020

So, what should be on your integration to-do list in 2020? Here are the five system integrations that will deliver the most value to your organization.

CRM and email integration allows users to quickly access and edit relationship data without leaving their inboxes.

1. Inbox

Stop and think. How much time do you spend in your inbox on a typical day? Now, multiply that across your entire staff. If you’re like many companies, email is still your most frequently used tool. Email offers a convenient platform for outreach and engagement, but it’s not ideal for organizing relationship data

A better approach integrates your CRM and email, allowing users to quickly access and edit relationship data without leaving their inboxes.

Tip for Insightly users: Insightly Sidebar for Gmail makes it easy to view and add contacts without leaving your inbox. You can also save email messages into Insightly with a click of a button. The Insightly Sidebar for Outlook is also available for customers who use Outlook.

Insightly integration for QuickBooks Online pulls in invoice and payment data into a dedicated tab on the customer’s record in Insightly.

2. Financial data

Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business. When customers fail to pay their invoices on time, your company suffers. Unfortunately, for many organizations, customer relationship management and billing fall into two separate departments that rarely speak to each other. 

Integrating proposal, invoice, and payment data into your CRM creates transparency for front-line staff who are most likely to engage with customers, thereby reducing past-due situations and increasing cash flow.

Tip for Insightly users: Insightly integration for QuickBooks Online pulls in invoice and payment data into a dedicated tab on the customer’s record in Insightly.

3. Documents and files

Your CRM is an excellent place to collect customer contact information, notes, memos, and small chunks of relationship data. However, some data sources are best retained in their original format (i.e. complex pricing spreadsheets, photos from trade shows, and product spec sheets). 

Attaching downloaded copies of files to CRM records is one option, but a better solution integrates your CRM to a cloud document management system. Linking to live versions of an online document maximizes collaboration and minimizes the possibility of confusion caused by revisioning.

Tip for Insightly users: Insightly offers a number of document integrations, including Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, OneDrive, Evernote, and others.

Ideally, your team collaboration system should have a direct line into your CRM, thereby enabling data-driven conversations and avoiding the creation of new data silos.

4. Team chatter

With the advent of remote work and collaboration apps, such as Slack, team members spend more time “chatting” than ever before. This online chatter represents real business value, but value is decreased when data remains isolated from your primary source of truth. In a similar way, online conversations become much less meaningful when collaborators do not have direct access to CRM data. Manually logging into a separate system to search for records is not always feasible, especially in today’s fast-paced business environment.

Ideally, your team collaboration system should have a direct line into your CRM, thereby enabling data-driven conversations and avoiding the creation of new data silos.

Tip for Insightly users: Insightly for Slack allows users to quickly search for, find, and add notes to Insightly records without ever leaving Slack.

5. Everything else

Your CRM vendor cannot integrate to all of your mission-critical apps. That’s why integration platforms (like Zapier) are so useful. At last count, Zapier integrates more than 2,000 apps, opening the door to limitless efficiency. From social media to software development apps to customer success software, Zapier fills the gaps to ensure a seamless flow of data to and from your CRM.

Tip for Insightly users: Connecting your Insightly account to Zapier takes only a few seconds but could save you hours of manual data entry. Learn more at Zapier.com.

Move faster with CRM integrations

In summary, connecting your CRM to mission-critical applications will help your company build a more data-centric culture that elevates efficiency, reduces data confusion, and, ultimately, helps your teams move faster.

Check out Insightly’s CRM integration page to browse the complete list of solutions. Not a customer? Request a free product demo and CRM needs assessment with an Insightly rep. 

 

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