4 ways a unified CRM simplifies life for your remote teams Business & tech by MATT KEENER June 02, 2021Data from the United States Census Bureau shows that approximately one-third of U.S. households work from home more frequently than before the COVID-19 pandemic. Among those with a bachelor’s degree or higher, 61.7% of households reported at least one member switching from in-person work to telework.Many Americans who have switched to remote work recognize the benefits. There’s zero commute and a comfortable work environment. That being said, remote work comes with its fair share of challenges, especially when it comes to maintaining high levels of communication and productivity.Both large and small companies are announcing permanent or partial shifts to remote workforces, making the need for best-in-class technology ever so important. Here’s why adopting a unified CRM can be a smart choice for your remote teams.Remote work challengesLet’s start by discussing the challenges that many remote teams are struggling to overcome.Information silosThe transition to cloud-based systems was already underway well before the pandemic. Managing business information in department-specific web applications comes with numerous benefits, but doing so can lead to data silos. One system for deals, another system for marketing campaigns, and still another for delivery makes it difficult to gain a full view of the customer journey and connect data points to accurately measure business performance and ROI.Poor communicationVirtual meeting fatigue isn’t the only communication-related challenge facing remote teams. When business information is spread across numerous systems, it makes collaboration more difficult for staff. Instead of talking about how to best serve the customer, team members are faced with conversations about how to get data from point A to point B.Remote sellingSelling while sheltering adds an entirely new level of complexity for your sales reps. Customers want to do business with people that they genuinely like and trust. But how can your company build trust when remote teams are operating in misalignment with sales? If your sales rep is saying one thing but your marketing emails and collateral say another, or the delivery doesn’t match promises made at the time of the sale—your customers will get confused, stop engaging, and lose trust in your company.Distributed ad budgetsTrade shows, a traditional mainstay of corporate marketing, are still on hold in many industries and geographic locations. For digital marketers, it means more money to allocate toward email campaigns, content marketing, SEO, paid search engine ads, and other online promotions and initiatives. However, managing a dozen different marketing programs requires continuous tracking and performance measurement. Compare this to a live trade show that has one timeline, one lead list, and a relatively known budget.How a unified CRM solves many remote work challengesCompanies often try to alleviate remote work challenges by building CRM integrations with the tools that they use. While this approach can work, not all integrations are created equal. Each team member must juggle multiple user names, passwords, login URLs, and user interfaces. Data syncs take time to configure and routinely break, which means someone has to fix them. And, there’s the security and privacy risks associated with maintaining customer data in too many places.By contrast, a unified CRM for sales, marketing, and delivery solves many of the challenges facing your remote teams. Staff spend less time jumping between systems and more time on what counts: delivering business value. Here are four specific reasons why a unified CRM can be a smart choice for your remote teams:1. One system for sales, marketing, delivery, and supportA unified CRM creates alignment between your lead management activities and other parts of the customer journey, such as your email marketing campaigns, customer onboarding, delivery, and ongoing support. Staff from across multiple remote teams are able to use your CRM to perform their day-to-day tasks, which means they’ll spend less time jumping between systems, juggling passwords and trying to sync key data. They can view reports and build real time dashboards in one place and spend more time using the data, instead of trying to build reports from scratch and manually share with others.2. One view of the customer journeyAligning sales, marketing, and operations under one roof provides a more complete view of each customer. Customer email interactions, website engagement, conversations with your sales teams, and purchase history can be consolidated into one record in your CRM. This means your remote teams don’t have to hunt for data in siloed databases. Providing a single view makes it easier for demand-generation teams to understand the customer and design new promotional campaigns and outreach initiatives that maximize customer lifetime value.3. Improved accountabilityA CRM with built-in productivity capabilities—such as projects, milestones, and tasks—adds a new level of transparency and accountability that is not possible when each team is working in a vacuum. Automated follow-up tasks keep sales reps on track with important deals. Kanban-style project boards help marketers prioritize digital advertising campaigns and stay on budget. Converting booked deals to projects in your CRM helps operations teams streamline customer onboarding and reduces unnecessary confusion and delays.4. Flexibility to preserve mission-critical integrationsNot every challenge can be solved natively by a unified CRM. To compete and grow business, you may need other mission-critical apps. Your bookkeeper will still need a third-party accounting system to track income and generate financial statements. If you’re an eCommerce shop, your shopping cart software is not going away. Be sure to check how your unified CRM handles app integrations. For example, Insightly recently introduced AppConnect, a no-code CRM integration tool that delivers 500+ prebuilt connectors to frequently used apps. You don’t have to be a coder to use it and it takes just moments to build each integration.Remote teams thrive when unifiedRemote team management is no small task. It takes a proactive strategy, commitment from leadership, and the right tools and technology. As you work toward greater alignment between your remote staff, be sure to at least consider how a unified CRM could alleviate your specific challenges.Learn more about Insightly’s unified CRM here. Project management | Remote work | Startups | Unified CRM MATT KEENERMatt Keener is a digital marketer and President of Keener Marketing Solutions, LLC. In addition to consulting for Insightly and other SaaS clients, Matt enjoys blogging about remote work. Get Matt’s top-rated book or connect with him on LinkedIn.