Small businesses have access to an ever increasing range of CRM tools. Long gone are the days when they needed to purchase expensive enterprise solutions to manage customer data, interactions and sales.
Still, not all CRM tools are created equal. Even the most attractive offers out there (some which use a freemium model), come with drawbacks. So in this article, we’ll look at what makes a good CRM tool, and why we believe it should integrate seamlessly with Office 365.
Why Use Office 365 in the First Place?
Office 365 is quite simply one of the most powerful suite of products for managing and growing your small business. If you’ve yet to create an account, just know that it lets you access all the Microsoft Office products you’re familiar with (Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint), along with cloud-based tools like an online storage solution (OneDrive) and email (Outlook).
On top of the aforementioned established products, you’ll also benefit from the following:
It’s reliable: this is, after all, Microsoft products we’re talking about. The company isn’t going anywhere soon, which means you can trust the services to remain active without worrying about
Secure: Microsoft takes a great deal of precaution around online security, but also ensuring your data isn’t sold off to the highest bidder (unlike with Google products)
Affordable: Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and AllDrive all come with even the entry-level plan, starting at $5 per month.
Scaleable: the subscription model means you can add or remove products and services as your business grows. Ideal if you have big plans but not quite the right budget yet!
Moreover, thanks to app integrations, it’s possible to tailor and customize the solution to meet all your business needs, as we’ll see below.
What About the Integrations?
Office 365 was designed with developers in mind. A quick browse around the Microsoft App store will show that you can find integrations with all kinds of third party providers, from Wikipedia to Mailchimp.
Here are a few other noteworthy tools you can easily integrate with:
DocuSign: allows users to digitally sign emails, contracts or legal documents. It can be integrated with Outlook or Word and costs $10 a month.
DocSend: this one is for Outlook only but it’s the best way to ensure your recipients always receive the right documents. Essentially, it allows you to update documents that have been sent, even after they’ve been sent by creating a mirror image that you can edit later.
LucidChart Diagrams: a fantastic way to turn Excel or Word into more visual-focused collaboration tools. This app lets you create flowcharts, mindmaps, diagrams or wireframes that go beyond numbers and tables. You get access to tons of editable shapes and you can export the results in a variety of formats.
And the best thing about these integrations? They’re super easy to add them. You can simply navigate to the right app in the store, and later manage your add-ons directly from your admin center, under the Billings > Product and Services tab.
The Benefits of Integrating your CRM with Office
This is where the fun begins. Using the right CRM integration, it should be entirely possible to manage your entire sales pipeline directly within Office 365, starting with Outlook. It is something that Act! 365 does natively, although you can also try to build your own custom integrations from scratch using numerous add-ons.
Now since your email provider is the first touchpoint to contact leads and customers, this is where we will start:
Create contact profiles in a few clicks. The first step in building strong customer relationship is adding them to your CRM. Using the right integration, like the one we provide at Act! 365, you can import Outlook contact details into our CRM tool in one click.
Monitor your email’s success rates directly from your inbox. A good CRM should let you see who leads are at a glance. This is why a tracking function that displays who opens and clicks your emails can be the first step in improving your outreach and engagement.
Get a complete view of the customer history: Once again, the Outlook inbox can be your one-stop-shop to instantly reveal past interactions and records relating to specific customers. This ensures you always have the full picture of who you are messaging, and can create more engaging, relevant communication that improve conversion.
In summary, it’s worth highlighting that one of the biggest challenges in managing customer relationships for small businesses has to do with data silos.
Attempting to work with data customer information that’s scattered everywhere is not only time consuming, but it also increases disorganisation, and ultimately hurts your conversions, whether you’re trying to book a demo or close a sale.