So I was at the Remodelers Advantage Technology Summit about a month ago. We were a sponsor and also gave a Tech Talk on marketing automation. Throughout the event, I talked to dozens of Remodelers Advantage members, and I couldn’t help but notice some confusion in the midst. There were many excellent technology providers there, and several had a few overlapping solutions, which is very typical.
However, as we were discussing, I discovered that everyone is using different language to describe tools they already have or tools they need. This makes it difficult to talk to one another about how to get better and how to improve our processes.
So, I decided to write this post in order to break down the three big categories of tools, what they actually do, and where they can start to overlap. Here it goes.
To start, I think you should have separate tools for each of these three sections of your business, and ideally they should all talk to each other.
3 Tools, 3 Separate Tasks
Marketing Automation tools help you attract more prospects to your business, convert more leads, and create more sales opportunities.
A CRM will help you manage those opportunities, follow up with high-quality prospects, and track your sales pipeline. Once you convert a lead into a customer, they move to project management.
Project management software will help you manage your remodeling project to completion and help you create a raving fan. Once you have finished the project, you should sync this data back into your marketing automation tool so that you can turn this customer into an advocate of your brand.
CRM – Customer Relationship Management
A CRM system helps you manage communication between your company and your prospects and clients. Typically, a CRM system will have many of the following components:
- Contact Database
- Contact Profile View
- Tags for Segmenting Your Database
- Deal Stages
- Email Marketing Tool
The primary functions of your CRM should be to help you keep track of leads, communicate 1 to 1 with your leads, track where your leads are in the sales funnel, track total revenue won and lost, and track your sales reps’ activity levels.
Many CRM systems have started moving in two directions.
First, they have started adding on tools that are typically included in marketing automation systems. They have also started adding tools that are typically included in project management software. This can start to complicate things.
For example, if your CRM has project management functionality, you’ll be more inclined not to purchase project management software, but you probably won’t be able to do everything you want with the functionality that the CRM added.
Before we get too deep in the weeds here, let’s look at project management software.
Project Management Software
Project management software should help you manage your client communication and project from the point of the sale onward. Once you close a deal, you’ll create a project inside your project management software. This is where you’ll be able to identify what stage the project is in, communicate with your client directly, share photos and talk about timelines and completion dates for different phases of your project.
Typically, project management software has the following components:
- Scheduling Tools
- Messaging System
- Time Sheets
- Photo Sharing
- Change Order Process
- Selections Process
The primary function of your project management software should be to create a wonderful experience for your client. It’s all about the project at hand. Some project management software will try to build in a CRM component, which is where some overlap comes into play. Typically, you won’t get the full CRM functionality you need in this case.
Marketing Automation Software
Marketing automation software helps you drive more prospects to your website, convert more of those projects into leads, and nurture those leads into sales opportunities. Marketing automation helps create a wide top for your marketing and sales funnel, pushing more people towards you.
Typically, marketing automation software includes:
- Blogging tools
- Search engine optimization tools
- Social media tools
- Email marketing tools
- Lead nurturing tools
- Website Analytics and other reporting tools
The job of marketing automation software is to put more opportunities in front of sales and help you create better and smarter marketing campaigns.
Marketing automation and CRM software typically have the most overlap, but make no mistake. Marketing automation isn’t a true CRM. You can capture leads, manage a database, and score leads, but it isn’t built to track communication on a one-to-one basis and measure your sales pipeline. Likewise, a CRM will often have email marketing tools and sometimes lead nurturing tools, but it only helps you manage your database. It doesn’t help you fill the top of your pipeline with more leads.
In an ideal world, you have a marketing automation platform that talks to your CRM. So, as you generate leads, those leads get scored, ranked, and moved to your CRM, so your sales team to follow up with them. Sales will use the CRM to connect with leads, move them down the sales funnel, and close more customers. Customers get added to your project management software for tracking throughout the project. Once the project is complete, data is sent back to marketing automation so that customer marketing and referral marketing campaigns can be created. The tools should create a circle