How well is your marketing and sales process actually automated? That question is very important to ask yourself, especially if you plan to sell your company in the coming years. The numbers don't lie. Research shows that every dollar spent on CRM generates an average of $8.71 (Nucleus Research). In addition, the number of leads increases 2.5x per month within one year and 70% of the CRM users see the conversion rate increase (HubSpot). Investors know this too. They are interested in companies with potential for growth and automation is an important precondition. Enough reason to start serious CRM management today and to further professionalize your (marketing and sales) organization. 

Sell your company? Start professionalizing! 

The importance of professionalizing your organization is confirmed by Justin Jansen, professor of entrepreneurship at the Rotterdam School of Management. He publishes annually The ScaleUp Dashboard. This research into scale-ups shows that one factor is extremely important for (rapid) growth, namely the professionalization of the organization. Streamlining everything as much as possible and setting up processes that facilitate rapid growth is the credo. But where to start now?

The first step starts with setting up a good CRM system. This allows you to create insight into your marketing & sales funnel by recording all contacts from lead to sale. It is wise to choose a professional package that suits your organization. Large organizations quickly opt for it SalesForce or Microsoft Dynamics. However, medium to smaller organizations opt for it HubSpotPipe drive or Zoho. When selecting the right tool, especially look at the size of the contacts you intend to make. If your Total Addressable Market (TAM) is small and well-arranged, a simpler package is a very sensible choice. Think of Pipedrive or Zoho. However, if you have international ambitions and are dealing with thousands, or even millions, of potential contacts, consider SalesForce or Microsoft Dynamics. A solution that fits nicely in between is HubSpot. They offer a CRM package that you can use for free. You only pay when you grow (and further automate). Ideal if you still aim for growth with your company and do not want to pay the top price right away. 

Automate everything!

The second point that strongly depends on your CRM choice is the degree of automation. If you want to place the first contact to the order in one (automated) system, then a more extensive package is indispensable. Take HubSpot as an example. With their Marketing, Sales and Service Hub, they facilitate the entire process of obtaining leads (via inbound marketing) to pushing these leads through the sales process until they result in an order. Since the beginning of 2020, the CMS Hub has also been added, a solution with which you can also build your website in HubSpot and make everything connect even more seamlessly. Nice detail; HubSpot says goodbye to traditional sales funnel management. With the introduction of Flywheel the company is committed to attracting, contracting and supporting your leads and customers, all within one package. 

With such a product you will therefore not only automate your sales process, but also your marketing process. In summary, this looks like this. When a prospect comes to your website, he is tempted to leave his details. Good Call-2-Actions are, for example, offering a quick scan, white paper, e-book or webinar. If someone has left their details, the system automatically starts a campaign to entice the prospect to make a purchase. Everything is tracked. The number of emails someone opens, the links they click on and the articles they read. Based on this, the marketing flow is adjusted and someone gets to see personalized content. The target; come to that order! If the prospect is warm enough, you can let the system give you the final push with an offer or send a link with which the customer can automatically make an appointment with one of your sales people. If all goes well, they only have to do the closing; the rest has taken care of the system. But you also want to do the closing as automated as possible. An automatic invoice and possible deployment of your services are the holy grail of streamlining and automating your processes. 

How TransIP grew into a multi-million dollar company thanks to automation

A good example of a company that has implemented this scalable way of marketing and sales is TransIP. The motto of Ali Niknam, founder of TransIP and Bunq, is therefore very clear; Automate everything! To clarify the power of his approach, I would like to take you back in time to the year 2008. In this year I started my first company. Of course there was also a website. A good friend gave me the tip to create my site at TransIP. OK, no sooner said than done. I tap www.transip.nl and have registered the domain within a few clicks. huh? Did it work yet? Wow, that was fast! Previously I had to download a form, print it out, fill it in, scan it in, fax it back (yes, that still existed then) or send it by post… what a hassle! But not with TransIP. 

And it went even further… A few clicks later my e-mail was also working, hosting was arranged, a template was ready for me and I could get started right away. Oh yes, and I had already paid! What? So simple? Normally I would spend a day setting up FTP servers, setting up the environment and all sorts of other technical hassle. I loved it! How basic it sounds today, how groundbreaking it was at the time. Scalability turned out to be the basis for success. In 2018 TransIP realized a turnover of more than 70 million euros and it is one of the largest web hosting companies in the Netherlands. Smart also from Niknam, because the complete financial settlement and the technical set-up was automated. As a result, the company makes very healthy margins and removes a lot of complexity from the business model. 

Niknam's example brings me to the next topic, which is automating the rest of your process. Because now that I've told you about using a CRM package, it's time to think about other applications as well. Think of a package for handling customer contact, time registration, project management and invoicing. An average software company or secondment company cannot avoid setting up a total solution for this. Fortunately, today there are thousands of solutions to automate your business. However, there is one big challenge here; how do you ensure that it is one integrated whole? Because, you want to avoid needing all kinds of different systems that don't 'talk' to each other. Therefore, think about using a logical chain of software that integrates well. 

A logical chain for professionalizing and automating your company

After implementing your CRM package, there are two typical things that you can still handle. One at the front and one at the back of the process. At the front end of the process, the setup of a chat bot is becoming more and more common. Where you now deploy a telephone operator, or even a complete office team full-time, you can save many man-hours with the use of smart bots. Especially because many of the questions are repetitive in nature and you want to show when selling your company that your organization is not top-heavy with all the staff. In addition, the use of a chat solution helps to generate leads. Think of it like a store. There you will eventually also be approached with the question if you still need help. This question has a very conversion-increasing effect, provided you don't immediately jump on a visitor upon arrival. Many of the aforementioned CRM packages already have a set of basic functionalities to handle this. Because this is often restrictive, a handy tool like intercom outcome. This allows you to further automate the front of your sales process.  

However, there are also quite a few improvements to be made at the back. Let's go back to the HubSpot example. If you, as a HubSpot user, also want to manage your projects, track hours and send invoices, you will not be able to do that within HubSpot. One solution is to use Professional Services Automation (PSA) software. For example, a commonly used HubSpot integration is the package PSOhub, which focuses entirely on project management, contract management, time registration and invoicing. This software fully integrates with HubSpot and also sends all kinds of relevant information back into the package, so that your sales team is always aware of the latest developments. This way, just like Nikman, you can streamline your entire organization. Do you want to keep a separate accounting program? No problem, because solutions such as PSOhub integrate seamlessly with these types of solutions. Think of Exact Onlinemoneybird or Quickbooks

Think about the process and then get started

In short, if you haven't spent enough time on streamlining your marketing and sales organization, now is the time! Start by devising a process diagram and draw the picture for yourself. The picture below, from the PSOhub website, gives a good example of how you CRM can integrate with other packages to create one ecosystem. Draw a similar picture for yourself and limit the number of different software solutions to no more than 3 or 4. That way you too can preparing the company for sale. Good luck!