CRM integration is more than something that just “happens” as you add more tools. Instead, it demands a structured and strategic approach. As your business toolset expands, so should your method for integrating CRM systems.

We’ve put together this handbook to be your guide to navigating CRM integration strategically so that connecting the various software you need for your operations is both seamless and purposeful.

CRM Integrations Explained

Companies use lots of different applications – around 900 on average, according to research by Mulesoft. These applications can be things like online tools, traditional software or systems built in-house.

Now, CRM integrations are the glue that holds your tech stack together. The main goal is to make sure information and data flow smoothly between all these different systems so that you can build a complete picture of your relationships with customers.

Imagine a world in which your development team doesn’t have access to some of your user data, while your sales and marketing teams have access to another set of data. This is the common scenario for most companies, leading to data silos that make it impossible for different systems (and teams) to “talk” to one another.

On a higher level, it means inefficient strategies. Lack of information. Utter headaches and lack of alignment by the time your organization sets OKRs. And if no one is aligned, no one wins.

With CRM integration, everything is perfectly connected. Your data and teams start talking about your customers using a common language, instead of constantly encountering friction points. Different data sources feed into the same headquarters – the complete profile of every single customer, which you can then analyze at scale to build more accurate ICPs and projections.

Finally, you receive the ability to break down data silos, make decisions based on how your customers behave and painlessly increase your revenue.

The Benefits of CRM Integrations

There are many pros to CRM integrations. Let's explore the advantages that can transform your business.

1. CRM Integrations Improve Your Accuracy

One of the standout benefits of CRM integrations is the improvement in data accuracy. With automatic updates between your CRM and other systems you have in place, your data is always fresh. This means you don’t have to worry about your contact data being wrong or outdated.

You’ll also prevent data silos that get in the way of your team having the info they need when they need it. Launching an ambitious account-based marketing campaign, for example, no longer becomes a task full of blockers because the data is scattered across your organization. Instead, it’s only a matter of planning the due dates.

With everything working in harmony, you can trust that your data is not only accurate but also up-to-date, ensuring a reliable foundation for your operations.

2. Streamlined Business Operations

By connecting your CRM with other essential tools, you create a seamless flow of information across your organization. This means that teams can access the data they need without navigating through multiple systems, reducing the risk of bottlenecks and delays.

You also get the benefit of automation so that you can complete regular tasks quickly.

The result? A more agile and responsive business environment, where tasks are completed efficiently and collaboration becomes seamless.

3. Increased Sales

CRM integrations empower your sales team to capitalize on opportunities with precision. By seamlessly integrating customer data with sales tools, your team can quickly pinpoint promising leads, understand customer preferences and identify optimal moments to make a move.

Depending on the type of data you collect, CRM integration may also open up the opportunity for understanding each customer type’s preferred sales channel. Suppose that, for a sub-section of your audience, it’s email.

Go even more granular because the unlocked data in your CRM will show you how they have been behaving, what their company is currently struggling with and where you can help, making hyper-personalization a reality – not just a far-fetched dream.

With a well-integrated CRM, your sales team can strike while the iron is hot, converting leads into deals with a well-timed and informed approach.

4. Improved Data Analytics and Customer Experience

CRM integrations open the door to enhanced data analytics, offering actionable insights into customer behavior. Collecting and consolidating data from various touchpoints gives your business a comprehensive understanding of customer interactions.

For example, if a recently won account is losing interest in your product (as seen through the product usage data), this information can be integrated into your CRM, so the right Account Executive or Customer Success Manager reaches out in time to prevent churn.

Similarly, if your product analytics identify that a customer is close to maximizing their current plan usage, CRM integration allows you to set up triggers that automatically upsell the prospects to a plan that won’t feel two sizes too small.

Ultimately, the wealth of information that CRM integration provides becomes a powerful tool. Your strategy will become much stronger and your customer experience unparalleled, thanks to personalized experiences.

The Different Types of CRM Integrations

While “integrations” is a catch-all term, we can break them down into different types. Typically, you’d commonly use the following types:

1. Native CRM Integrations

Many CRM tools come with native or built-in integrations, especially when you're using other services from the same provider. For instance, if you're using HubSpot for your CRM and also using Marketing Hub, these two seamlessly communicate without any manual intervention.

However, in the real world, businesses often cherry-pick applications from various providers based on specific needs or preferences. In such cases, CRMs still offer built-in integrations, but a bit of clicking might be required to ensure everything works smoothly.

Some of the most common native integrations include popular social media platforms (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn), email platforms such as Gmail and Outlook, calendar tools like Google Calendar, collaboration platforms including Slack and form builders like Typeform.

With these integrations, your data flows from one service to another. For example, emails you receive in Outlook are logged into your Hubspot lead data. Similarly, you can set up triggers for newly recorded leads to be sent into your Slack.

These native integrations act as the backbone, ensuring a smooth and interconnected digital ecosystem for your business.

2. Data Enrichment Integrations

Data enrichment plays a crucial role in refining and enhancing the information stored in your system. This process involves supplementing your existing data (email addresses, company names, etc.) with additional, valuable details (technology used, latest company information, company size, etc.)

Enriched data provides a more holistic view of your leads and customers, enabling personalized and targeted engagement. This is especially vital for sales teams aiming to understand their prospects better and marketers tailoring campaigns with laser-like precision.

For example, suppose you have a lead working at a tech company. Your data enrichment provider could pass on the information about the competitors they use, so you can tailor your outreach to mention how you’re better than them. Then, with a CRM integration, that information would be automatically added to your CRM.

Similarly, data enrichment is also used for keeping your lead lists fresh with accurate information. Findymail is a great example of actionable B2B contact information enrichment, including verified email addresses.

Ultimately, data enrichment integrations supplement your existing view of contacts, so you learn more about them before you even schedule a meeting.

3. eCommerce Integrations

For businesses running an online shop, eCommerce integrations with your CRM can be a game-changer, providing profound insights into customer buying patterns and behavior.

For example, using Shopify, you can effortlessly link orders, customer contact information and product details directly to your CRM. This interconnected approach streamlines your workflow, enabling you to manage your online store and customer relationships more efficiently.

And don’t forget that seamless payments are crucial for enhancing the customer experience. Stripe allows you to integrate payment data directly into your CRM. This not only facilitates smooth transactions but also provides a clearer view of your revenue movements, allowing you to create more accurate projections.

4. Video Integrations

If your business uses videos as part of its marketing campaigns, video integrations can transform your approach

One of the easiest platforms to use is YouTube. This integration allows you to gain valuable data about the performance of your videos, highlighting which ones are bringing in leads and capturing audience attention.

Armed with this information, you can adapt your messaging, refine your strategy and tailor your approach to better resonate with your target audience.

5. Customer Support Integrations

There’s one thing all businesses have in common – customers will eventually have questions, concerns or issues. The swift resolution of these matters contributes significantly to your business's positive image.

That’s why integrating customer support tools with your CRM is a strategic and effective move. Take, for instance, Intercom, a leading live chat integration that seamlessly connects to your website and pulls chat logs directly into your CRM.

It offers real-time communication and empowers you to analyze chat interactions within the CRM. By identifying patterns in customer issues and concerns, you can proactively address recurring issues.

How to Build a CRM Integration Strategy

Understanding and fulfilling client needs is a nuanced process, which is why it should never be ad-hoc. As you scale, you want a CRM integration architecture that feels solid enough to build upon. Without a CRM integration strategy, you’ll feel confined in your growth.

1. Define Key Roles

Initiate your integration strategy by clearly defining key roles within the project. Assign responsibilities to individuals such as Product Owners (PO), Product Managers (PM), Developers and other stakeholders.

The PO/PM acts as a crucial intermediary, ensuring effective communication between the client and the development team. They’ll temper unnecessary requests, qualify requests for developers and clarify technical points with the non-technical stakeholders.

2. Identify Key Elements of Your CRM Integration Strategy

Recognize that participants in your project – whether the CEO seeking financial insights or salespeople focusing on opportunities – have varied but critical needs for their respective roles.

Then, list the specific requirements each stakeholder has. The goal is to tailor your integration strategy to cater to diverse stakeholder needs.

3. Choose Your Methods

Depending on the tools you want to integrate with your CRM, you should decide on the specific methods.

The most common methods are APIs. However, if one of your tools doesn’t provide an API you could connect with your CRM, you will need a connector like Zapier.

Ideally, you’ll have as many APIs as possible in your stack as these offer the most accurate data. With connectors, there is always the risk of them experiencing downtime or data getting skewed in the process, so more frequent audits will be needed.

In some cases, you might need to write custom code. If your organization comes to this point, you’re likely using legacy tooling that requires your developers to “bypass” the standard connection method. Consider migrating to a simpler solution or understand that, much like connector apps, there are risk of data inaccuracies.

4. Workflow Implementation

Implement a CRM integration workflow that keeps the entire team well-informed about the project's status. The workflow our team at Findymail likes to use breaks the work into statuses:

  • Each ticket represents a request that needs to be completed.
  • Each ticket has a status.
  • Participants don’t wait for assignments but proactively pick them.

Stock Status - Planning Out the Integration

This stage is the “Todo List” and includes tickets to be completed. Each ticket must have an unambiguous and achievable request.

The PO/PM populates this status with tickets. A ticket can only be here if a developer confirms the request's clarity.

Technical Status - Getting Things Done

During this phase, the project comes to life as the development team translates conceptual ideas into tangible outcomes.

Each ticket is tagged so we know where we stand:

  • Dev In Progress: Here, a developer is actively working on turning the request into a reality.
  • Waiting For TR (Technical Review): Once the developer is done, the task goes for a technical review. Another developer checks if everything is technically sound and aligns with the project's standards.
  • TR In Progress: If any adjustments are needed after the review, the task goes back to the original developer for refining. It's like a quality control check to ensure everything fits seamlessly.

Product Status - Checking the Plan

In this phase, we look at the project in depth from a functional standpoint. This is the phase where we’ll make sure that every component aligns with the original goals.

  • Waiting for FR (Functional Review): The task goes for a review by someone who understands the project from a functional standpoint. For example, a Rev Ops or Integrations Manager.
  • FR in progress: If there are any functional adjustments needed, the task goes back to the original developer for fine-tuning.

Deployment Status - Ready for Action

The final phase is to present the finished product to all the relevant stakeholders. The main question we ask at this phase is: are all the integrations completed and working as intended?

It’s not only developers who should do testing at this point. Consult every stakeholder representative of their use case to see if they see any gaps or inefficiencies.

Using this workflow, you can ensure team accountability since you know who’s working on what, make sure requests are clear and deliverable, increase delivery time and include all the key stakeholders throughout the integration process.

Feel free to take this work system and make it your own!

Best Practices and Common Issues with CRM Integrations

Before you start CRM integration, verify the compatibility of your CRM with the intended applications. Most CRM platforms will have a list of apps and software that integrate with the platform. If not, you might need a third-party connector like Zapier.

Then, back up all the key application data before you start migrating and integrating anything. If there’s scheduled downtime, notify everyone who uses those tools of it, and prepare a contingency plan in case something goes wrong.

Depending on the tools you’re integrating with your CRM, there could be some data discrepancies. As soon as the migration is done, double-check data consistency and address any issues like duplicate, inconsistent or inaccurate information.

Finally, integration means that multiple systems are exchanging data, which may pose security risks. Make sure your security protocols are robust and implement encryption measures.

Create Your Organization’s Common Language with CRM Integration

As your business grows, the number of tools you use increases, too. Without CRM integration, your technological stack will become less of an asset and more of a “Frankenstein” stack composed of mismatched parts that constantly block your team from doing productive work.

The sooner you start considering CRM integration, the easier it will be to create a unified view of your customers – a view that your whole company will be able to share. Start with our blueprint and then, adapt it to the way you work.

Outline the key tools in your stack, list the requirements and get ready for 20/20 business vision!