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What Is a Sales CRM? How Does It Help You Streamline Engagement and Close Deals?

Sales CRM: Sales reps funneling contacts into a computer
A sales CRM acts as a library of all your customer interactions, storing every detail of your sales pipeline. [Skyword]

Learn how the right tech can save time on busywork so you can spend more time selling.

Every sale is a story of connection between needs and solutions, questions and answers. And a sales customer relationship management (CRM) system is essential for making these connections. A sales CRM helps track interactions with customers and creates meaningful engagements that drive business forward.

Most sales organizations aren’t taking advantage of this pivotal sales tool. The latest State of Sales report shows that two-thirds of sales pros say they’re overwhelmed with too many sales applications, and only 37% agree that their organizations take full advantage of their CRM. Let’s explore how a sales CRM can help you improve productivity and simplify your operations to make every customer interaction count.

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What is a sales CRM?

A sales customer relationship management (CRM) system is software that helps sales teams manage their interactions with customers and simplify pipeline management. It securely stores customer data, harnesses the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate key tasks and generate content, and streamlines sales processes to boost efficiency and revenue.

Why is a sales CRM important?

The latest State of Sales report finds that 69% of sales professionals need efficient tools to manage complexity on the job. A sales CRM helps sales teams stay organized. It stores customer details in one place, making it easy for teams to see past individual interactions, follow up on leads, and close deals. This cuts down on the time spent on paperwork, so sellers can do more of what they do best: connecting with customers and closing deals.

And today’s CRMs are more than just glorified databases. With the power of AI, your sales teams can access information about your customers, analyze it, and automate everything from writing sales emails to prioritizing tasks — turning them into a lean, mean revenue-generating outfit.

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How does a CRM help increase sales?

A CRM helps sales reps suggest products or services that fit the customer’s needs. It also helps follow up on leads and reconnect at the right time. For example, if a customer showed interest in a product, the CRM would have a record of this conversation. When that product goes on sale, the salesperson can reach out with a personalized offer. Additionally, a CRM can automate reminders for follow-ups that nudge the customer toward a purchase.

Here’s how a CRM can be applied at each stage of the sales cycle:

  1. Customer research: A CRM helps you reach potential customers who match your ideal customer profile, so your sales team can be more efficient from the start.
  2. Prospecting: A CRM centralizes prospect information, so marketing and sales teams are on the same page. This centralization also includes the integration of prospect communication, including email, voice calls, and video calls.
  3. Qualification: A CRM can automate the prioritization and qualification of leads, so sales teams can focus on prospects that are more likely to close.
  4. Presentation: Sales reps can use the information in the CRM to tailor their presentations to each customer. This helps them address specific customer needs and concerns.
  5. Proposal: CRMs help you easily create personalized proposals tailored to the specific needs and interests of your prospects.
  6. Negotiation: A CRM provides valuable historical data and analytics that sales reps can use during negotiations.
  7. Closing: The CRM provides sales reps with the tools they need to close deals, such as follow-ups or paperwork.

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5 CRM best practices

A CRM system is most effective when it supports a well-defined and functional sales strategy. Ensure your CRM enhances your refined sales processes with these tips:

1. Focus on process before sales automation

Don’t just transfer existing processes into the CRM. Refine and adapt them. This includes reevaluating how your team manages everything from leads to closing sales. I recommend aligning most of your standard deals with the CRM’s functionalities. For the rest, develop manageable workarounds that the CRM can handle effectively. Then, once you have your processes in place, you can use AI-powered CRM tools to automate things like drafting emails and conducting account research.

2. Connect your CRM to your whole business

CRMs are powerful because they pull data from different sources and store it in a centralized location. To take full advantage of your CRM, make sure it’s the hub for all customer-related information and is deeply integrated into every aspect of your sales activities. This allows you to track sales opportunities and make adjustments to your sales approach and pricing strategies based on real-time interactions.

3. Make the most of data analytics in your CRM

Keep your CRM data consistent by using it to track all your customer interactions in one place. This makes it easier to use and prevent errors. CRMs can also help you clean up your data to remove duplicate contacts. With clean data, you can use CRM analytics to create real-time reports and dashboard tools to guide your decision-making. For example, you can find out how your sales are doing, what customers want, and where your business can improve. 

4. Streamline quoting and pricing

Use the CRM to handle simple  product configurations and pricing adjustments efficiently. For more complex sets of products, a Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) tool  helps your reps offer the right products at the right price, every time. 

The result? A quote-generation process that ensures pricing is accurate and tailored to each customer’s needs and previous interactions.

5. Regularly train your team

Continuous training is essential to get your sales reps to use your CRM effectively. Hold training sessions whenever new features are added or when you identify a gap in how the team uses the CRM. This ensures everyone can fully use the system to enhance their sales activities.

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Does my company need a sales CRM?

To determine whether your company needs a sales CRM, you’ll need to evaluate your current sales processes and your future goals. This software is particularly beneficial if:

  • You’re experiencing growth: If you’re scaling beyond a small team, you need a CRM. As your customer data and interactions multiply, manually tracking them will become increasingly impractical. A CRM system can handle this growth seamlessly, making sure no customer detail is overlooked.
  • Sales processes are becoming complex: If you’re managing multiple product lines and a diverse customer base, a CRM can help simplify things by providing personalized product offerings and dynamic pricing. This helps you stay competitive.
  • You need better customer tracking: Keeping detailed records of customer interactions is essential for tailoring future communications and strategies. A CRM provides the structure you need to maintain comprehensive records and use this information effectively.
  • You need to simplify wasteful manual processes: Sales teams can use CRMs to automate inefficient manual tasks such as data entry, follow-up reminders, and updating contact information. This frees up time so sales professionals can focus on building deeper relationships with customers, which ultimately boosts productivity and customer satisfaction.

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Tips for choosing the best CRM

The right CRM depends on your business needs. For example, if your sales team is highly mobile, choose a CRM with excellent mobile capabilities. If your products are complex, look for a flexible CRM that integrates with configuration and pricing tools. Here are some practical tips when selecting a CRM:

  • Ensure seamless integration: Choose a CRM that integrates smoothly with your existing (and potential future) tools. This can include anything from email platforms and call tools to AI software. This integration will help maintain a consistent flow of information across platforms, which is crucial for managing complex sales processes efficiently.
  • Make sure it can be tailored to your needs: Opt for a CRM that is flexible and can be customized to meet your specific requirements, especially for managing complex pricing structures and sales campaigns. Customization allows you to tailor the CRM to your business model, optimizing your sales processes.
  • Prioritize sales automation: Your CRM should help automate routine tasks effectively, allowing the sales team to focus more on engaging with customers. It also should help them avoid getting bogged down by administrative duties.
  • Choose a scalable solution: As your company grows, your CRM should be able to handle more data and more complex scenarios without sacrificing performance. It should also be secure, capable of backing up and archiving your history, and flexible enough to adapt to changes.
  • Consider training and support: Strong CRM training and support are key to maximizing the system’s value. It’s especially important to provide support when new features are rolled out or when new team members need to be trained.
  • Weigh costs against long-term benefits: Compare initial implementation costs and the long-term benefits, such as productivity gains, reduced errors, and improved customer and employee retention. Review data from companies of similar size and scope to see the kinds of results they’ve seen, like a 50% increase in productivity or a 20% boost in revenue. This will give you a realistic idea of what to expect.

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Use your CRM to tell more sales success stories

A sales CRM acts as a library of all your customer interactions, storing every detail of your sales pipeline. By making the most of this tool, you can enhance productivity, foster meaningful customer engagement, and craft a better success story for your business.

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