Focus on Doing One Thing Well: Integrate a CRM into your Product to Supercharge Growth
At Fulton Works, we’re focused on making our projects a success in the markets they reach. Part of finding product/market fit includes technology surrounding sales and marketing. This article is part of a larger series of articles focused on supercharging your product by integrating a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM).
For every project we work on we decide to either build or buy functionality in order to meet customer needs. We subscribe to the "do one thing well" philosophy: Unless the thing you’re building is going to set you apart from the competition, we should avoid building that thing from scratch. We’re always building products for companies that sell a good or a service. Their digital product is their differentiator and it may be the way they transact, but the product interaction is holistically just one part of the sales cycle. If you’re trying to build more than one thing from scratch then chances are they won’t each be as polished as you’d like (and building your product will take longer and be more expensive). We focus on tight timelines and delivering value early. Therefore we believe in buying things like CRMs and integrating them into what we’re building. We’ve found that by leveraging existing CRM tools you can supercharge your product’s user adoption and growth. Nobody at Fulton Works wants to re-invent the wheel, it just isn’t our style. Nor should it be yours.
Context: How We Use CRMs with Your Product
CEOs, sales leaders and marketers often want a way to engage customers based on product behavior, history, or personal information. Without a CRM this is easier said than done. You can use Google Analytics to examine a user’s journey through our sales funnel online but tying that information to the sales team’s activities can be painful or impossible without significant resources shifting away from the product team’s focus.
We use CRMs to:
- Share product-based user accounts with your CRM
- Record a customer’s activities, changes or updates in the product
- Initiate sales and marketing activities from the CRM
- Extend our ability to provide sales-centric reporting & dashboards
Through these four activities we see a massive explosion of possibilities that sales and marketing teams can execute on their own (something that engineering loves).
Subscription Business & Targeted Emails
We built a product that had access restricted to paid subscribers only. This could be in any domain but our customer base would regularly activate a subscription one month and de-activate it the next based on their needs. Recurring revenue is great if it’s recurring so we were able to both combat churn and increase reactivation by integrating with a HubSpot.
We built hooks into our user object in our product’s codebase to create a Contact in HubSpot on customer creation in the product. From there we informed HubSpot about their subscription status by setting the Lifecycle Stage on the customer and setting up Deals to correspond to subscription updates. Those subscription changes were tied to Deal Pipeline stages. By default these stages may not make sense for your business, customize them to make sense. Fight the urge to transpose meaning here as it won’t make sense down the line.
What this integration opened up was a far more robust reporting system than our team had time to focus on. Beyond reporting we were actually able to create interactive lists of our customers that had churned, re-activated and churned again. For these customers, the sales team came up with a new plan to be flexible to their needs. Furthermore, this was all accomplished without any communication to the engineering team or dependent on deployment schedules.
Reporting With Ease
No matter the size of the company, in order to make smart choices you need data. By offloading all of the important sales and customer metrics to a CRM your tech team doesn’t have to derail their development at each board meeting.
For most early stage companies things like pricing, promotions, marketing pushes, and ad spend are constantly changing. Understanding the impact of those changes and being able to tie them back to actual user spend is difficult. Being able to pull numbers within the CRM allows sales and marketing professionals to access the data first-hand. Sales-focused CRMs tend to also display data inherently how sales wants to see it versus how the product team may be thinking about it.
While we’ve found success tying the products we’ve built to CRMs like HubSpot or Salesforce to add superpowers there is a risk in this. Consistency. Be aware that these integrations have to be thoughtful and most importantly exhaustive. If the product is feeding the CRM bad or incomplete data… well garbage in garbage out. When it comes to revenue make sure that every possible change, even those made outside of the product are communicated back to the CRM.
Stay tuned for more articles on product market fit.