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CRM for an agency: 10 critical features to look for

Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms are more popular than ever. Chances are your agency is already using one. If you’re not, then you might feel it’s high time to adopt CRM for an agency.

What do hundreds of agencies from around the world say about the challenges they face and how to solve them? Download the insights report “Challenges agencies face” to find out.

More than 40 percent of teams say they aren’t using all the features in their CRM, though (MarTech). That means they’re paying for software with many bells and whistles they may not actually need.

Which features should you look for in a CRM for an agency? We’ve narrowed it down to these ten.

1. A CRM for agency workflow automation and management

There are quite a few features to look for in a sales CRM, some of them more important than others. One of the most important is workflow automation and management capabilities.

You may not think of workflow automation immediately when you’re talking about CRMs. Yet, automating many of the day-to-day tasks that bog them down can free up your sales team’s time. In turn, they can get back to doing what they do best: selling.

Management can also help your team see what steps have already been done and which ones they need to take now. That makes it even easier for different team members to step in and assist a client whenever they need to.

2. Sales analytics and reporting drive agency success

Another must-have feature of a CRM for an agency is sales analytics. CRM platforms can collect a lot of important data.

That information isn’t all that helpful until you can crunch the numbers. This is why analytics tools are imperative to have in your sales CRM. With them, you can let the platform collect and analyze the data for you. Once you have those insights in hand, your team can refine the sales process and develop a more strategic plan. If your CRM doesn’t have built-in analytics, your team could miss vital insights to supercharge your sales.

3. Contact management for your agency CRM

Contact management is one reason agencies invest in sales CRMs to start. With a client database and contact management, you’re in a better position to keep tabs on all your clients.

Contact management can help your team discover duplicate customer profiles. It can also help keep client data up to date. That's in addition to transferring data between billing, marketing, and other key teams.

Finally, contact management also lets you see when and how you were last in touch with someone. In turn, your salespeople are in a better position to follow up with the right content at the right time.

4. CRM for agency sales team performance monitoring

You might not have thought of your CRM as a tool for monitoring your team’s performance. However, the best sales CRMs can help you keep tabs on how your salespeople are measuring up.

Features like live activity feeds let you know what your sales team is doing at any given moment. Data about past activities also highlights productivity for the whole team, as well as for each sales person.

This data can provide key insights. Who had the most “wins”? Their activity patterns might reveal how they’re doing it. If other salespeople are struggling, you might ask them to test out what your sales stars are doing.

Not only does this improve individual performance, you can also use these insights to build a repeatable sales process. With that in hand, you can up your chances of success—and you can help your team work toward sales automation to improve sales as well.

5. Get cross-platform functionality in a CRM for your agency

Is your sales CRM desktop only? That could be something holding your team back, especially in the age of hybrid work. Today’s salespeople don’t work only from their desk in the office.

In fact, your team could be working from almost anywhere, at any time, as remote work continues to rise (Forbes). They might be taking their laptops with them on the road. Team members could also be hopping on a sales call while they’re at the airport. They might use their phones to login to the dashboard so they can do some work at a tradeshow or between meetings.

Wherever your team members are working, you want a CRM that goes with them. Make sure the CRM for your agency works on mobile as well as desktops and laptops, so it can keep up with your team.

6. Customization is key for agency sales CRMs

A CRM for an agency should have some degree of customization options. After all, your agency is unique. You might focus on digital marketing versus traditional media or PR. Maybe you serve different verticals with very different needs. It could even be that your focus is on local businesses or SMBs. They have different needs from giant multinational corporations.

The CRM platform you choose should reflect that.

Customization options are key to making sure you’re investing in a CRM that works for your business. It can also help you ensure you’re getting the tools you need—and not the ones your team will never use.

7. Help your team with built-in email marketing

Most agency leaders decide to get a CRM for sales. It might seem counterintuitive to make sure a tool you’re getting for sales also has marketing features, but it makes a world of difference.

Why do you need marketing tools with your CRM? Sales and marketing often go hand-in-hand. After all, a lead might not be ready to buy yet, so sending them a proposal or asking to book a demo might scare them off.

With marketing tools, your team can stay in touch with all your leads. Marketing can send relevant and interesting materials to support leads on their buying journey until they’re ready to buy. Marketing automation might also let you respond to messages on social media. It also means you get email automation, so your salespeople can send out hand-picked content. Customized email campaigns have higher conversion rates, after all (Medium).

In short, your sales process needs to integrate with your marketing efforts. That means your sales CRM needs to be seamlessly integrated with marketing tools. When the two of them work together, your team can go further.

8. Discover an agency CRM with plenty of integrations

Third-party integrations are important for any technological tool for your agency. After all, it’s not like you only use one piece of software—even if you would prefer having an all-in-one platform.

A CRM with third-party integrations is a must for agencies then. You want to be able to connect the programs you’re already using, so you can make the most of the platform you adopt.

If your sales CRM also integrates with other platforms—like marketing or a billing/payment platform—this is even more helpful.

Check out which third-party integrations your sales CRM offers. If you’re missing key integrations, then it might be time to make a switch.

9. Don’t go without lead management in a CRM

No CRM for agencies should be without this key feature. Lead management—also known as opportunity management—helps you keep track of when you’re most likely to get a bite.

The best platforms keep track of key statistics about your prospects. This might include information on how often they open emails or what content they’re engaging with. In turn, the platform can provide insight into how hot a lead is—and when the ideal time is to follow up.

In essence, this feature lets you know when you have an opportunity. With those insights, your sales team can make the most of any lead. They can follow up with hot leads who are most likely to strike a deal.

Lead management can also tell you where each prospect is in the pipeline. Then, the platform will make suggestions for how best to support them in moving to the next stage.

10. Look for appointment scheduling features

Last—but not least—the sales CRM you pick for your agency should have built-in appointment scheduling.

A meeting scheduler makes it much easier for your team to schedule calls and demos with prospects. It can also be a useful tool to find convenient times for team meetings, performance reviews, and more.

What if you already use an appointment scheduler? You might want to determine whether it integrates with the CRM you’re considering. Does the platform also integrate with your team’s calendars?

If you’re not already using a scheduling tool, then you might want to look at what the CRM offers. If you’re thinking about switching away from your current scheduler, then it’s a good idea to see if the CRM solution you're considering comes with one.

Get the features you need in an agency CRM

When it comes to choosing the right sales CRM for your agency, research is crucial. There are many different platforms out there, and almost all of them offer something unique.

Take your time to research the features you need and compare them to the platforms that are out there. If a platform doesn’t offer everything you need, then it’s not the right choice. At the very least, look for these ten features in any CRM for an agency. When you do, you’ll be well on your way to finding the right one for your business.

About the Author

Solange Messier is the Content Strategy Manager at Vendasta. Solange has spent the majority of her career in content marketing helping companies improve how they connect with their prospects and customers. Her diverse background includes magazine publishing, book publishing, marketing agencies, payment processing, and tech. When she's not working, Solange can be found spending time with her family, running, and volunteering.

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