How To Choose the Best CRM For Your E-Commerce Store
Without fail I am pitched daily by people wanting me to
- evaluate their business,
- get my opinion on their new idea that will "revolutionize their industry,"
- host them on The Sales Podcast or The CRM Sushi Podcast,
- publish their blog post,
- link back to an article they wrote,
- share their infographic, and/or
- just give them free advice.
Today is no different.
However, today I was asked this question about how to choose the best CRM for an E-commerce business.
The easy and obvious answer (which nobody ever wants) is to take my CRM Quiz.
Once you take the quiz, go through my Process Before Login planning tool.
Then know your sales numbers via my free Sales Calculator.
With the proper questions considered, answered, and even unanswered, you're ready to do meaningful analysis and reviews of CRMs that will meet your needs and help you achieve your goals.
Without doing the above you're simply dabbling and kicking tires, which is fine to pass the time, but I don't pass the time. I get shit done.
So if you want to get shit done with your E-commerce business and get the right CRM, let's dig in...
What are you selling?
- Is it a physical product like a book or furniture?
- A digital product like a PDF or video tutorial or a membership site?
- A service like massages or a hair salon?
- Is it a one-time payment or are there renewals?
Not all CRMs are set to handle all of those types of sales equally.
Let's say you're selling software that requires a licensing key and annual renewals.
How will you generate a unique key for the one or 10 or 1,000 sales you make each week?
How will you stay in touch with those customers when you have patches and updates for the software?
How will you stay in touch to let them know it's time to renew?
If you're selling a physical product do you need to integrate with a 3rd party vendor that does your packing and shipping?
Do you need to notify your Operations department of both your predicted pipeline so they can plan inventory purchases and your Closed/Won pipeline so they can build and ship to satisfy your customers?
Maybe you're selling a monthly subscription like Netflix or Microsoft Office and need recurring billing capabilities.
Do you ever bundle your offers and include a physical item like a signed book or thumb drive with bonus material to augment your membership sales or live event attendees?
There is a lot that goes into just the sales side of your CRM + E-commerce purchase so take your time with this or reach out and let's talk through this together.
If you didn't get paid for your product or service, did you really sell anything?
You need to have a flexible, affordable, easy-to-use payment-collection ability tied to your CRM to grow your E-Commerce business.
Of course you need to accept all major credit cards, including AMEX.
But Wes, American Express charges higher fees that eat into my margins."
Then raise your prices 1-5%!
How hard is that?
Or keep your prices the same and enjoy closing *16.7% more deals.
(*That's the percentage of customers who have used an American Express card to purchase from me this year according to my own system. What percentage of those would've still purchased if I did not accept Amex? Probably most...but why chance it? 16.7% preferred using their Amex and I'm happy to oblige them. If you need help raising your prices and selling on value, hit me up.)
Closely related to payment types is payment plans.
If you have an item that is a few thousand dollars or maybe even just a few hundred dollars, you may want to offer payment plans so your customers can start right away and pay you over time.
When offering payment plans you can have several options, of course, but these are the minimum you should be able to offer:
- Equal installments over the payment period
- Same-as-cash, i.e. no finance charge
- Finance charge added to the payment plan. After all, time is money.
- Initial setup fee then equal installments with or without a finance charge
Receipts/order confirmations should also be sent immediately by your E-Commerce/CRM platform automatically.
This will save you a lot of time, effort, and client satisfaction so make sure your platform has this. (Note: any of the major platforms do this automatically.)
Recommendation: Shopify is not a CRM but it is a leader in the E-Commerce space who offers most of the features I describe here along with secure blogging and website hosting with great support and security. Take a look at them if you haven't already.
We do judge books—and landing pages and order forms and shopping carts and checkout pages—by their cover.
How easy is it to build nice-looking, fast-loading, secure, responsive pages in your CRM and/or E-Commerce platform?
Spiffy is an excellent tool to enhance your Infusionsoft and HubSpot CRMs.
I already mentioned Shopify as an excellent E-Commerce platform with both blogging and website tools, but it's not a pure CRM.
Look for a platform with a free trial or a detailed demo with a sales rep or certified partner and make sure it's easy to create, edit, publish, and share the E-Commerce pages you create.
As a rule of thumb I prefer not offering discounts and selling on price. However, it's a crazy world out there and as long as you have a reason for the discount, i.e. Father's Day, Black Friday, your birthday, etc. give 'em a whirl.
With that in mind, dig into your E-Commerce tool to see how easy it is to create:
- Promo codes with...
- Time limits
- Quantity limits
- Item specific and/or bundle requirements
- Free Trials and/or $1 Trials and/or Discounted Trials with...
- Automatic cancellation, and...
- Automatic enrollment/full charge. Sometimes you want to kick people out who are not in love with your offering and gladly and proactively click to enroll for full access. Then again, there could easily be a reason to make them be proactive to opt-out, meaning they are automatically enrolled and charged unless they cancel.
- Coupons: these are similar but not the same as promo codes. Some platforms allow you to create unique coupons that can only by used by the recipient. This makes them feel special but it also reduces the chances of any Joe Blow finding and using a generic promo code and getting 10% or 30% or 50% off when they were prepared to pay full price.
This sounds simple but I got into some tight spots back in the day when I first got started with this whole CRM/E-Commerce thing.
I would add products to my CRM, which were added to my storefront and available for sale but the shipping would be set to $0!!
Or international would be the same as domestic.
Or priority would be the same as standard.
Since I'm stubborn, slow, dense, and pig-headed it took me more than a few losses in this department to figure it out once and for all.
If you have higher quantity orders of physical products you may want to outsource your fulfillment because you may not have the physical space to store all of your inventory and/or it may be cost effective to have a professional fulfillment house pick, box, ship, and track your orders.
So make sure your CRM/E-Commerce platform plays nice with others.
In a pure E-Commerce play you probably don't have opportunities that your salespeople are tracking and working through various stages in a pipeline.
However, as you grow maybe a division is created that goes after larger vendors or partners for more strategic accounts.
If so, you will want your CRM to handle opportunities and stages.
Things to look for include:
- Assign owners
- Maybe your inside sales rep or SDR (Sales Development Rep) handles news leads and once they are qualified they are handed over to an AE (Account Executive) or salesperson
- Once the deal is closed your sales rep may assign a member of your operations or support or fulfillment team as the owner
- Once the deal is shipped the opportunity may get reassigned back to the sales rep or a member of your service/support/nurture team to maintain and grow
- Next Steps
- Bigger opportunities should have quantifiable events/conversations/ commitments/agreements to indicate it's time to move to the next step
- Timing: you should know how long it takes to close a deal, which means you know how long each opportunity remains in a certain stage. The right CRM will have triggers and reporting that helps you identify bottlenecks and stuck opportunities so you can focus appropriate resources on them or kill them and move on.
- I'll tie these together because they are similar enough for this discussion.
- When you are pursuing larger opportunities there will come a time to present both informal and formal quotes to your prospect.
- It's nice when you can include Accept/Reject buttons as well as Pay Now options on your quotes.
- Your CRM should have the ability to generate, store, edit, and execute quotes at a minimum, and ideally proposals as well, although there are add-ons like PandDoc and DocuSign that are excellent tools for this.
- Buy Now Links
- Similar to quotes, this is a simplified feature whereby you've engaged with your prospect, agreed on the bundle, price, and payment plans, so now you send an email with a link that takes them right to the order form.
- This may be redundant or unnecessary depending on your setup, but it's worth asking about in your evaluation.
- Closed Won/Lost Reasons
- Rarely do you truly know why you win or lose a deal so have a process to dig in and inquire why with the prospect/customer.
- The sales rep will just click a button and type some mumbo jumbo and move on.
- Have a manager or service agent or even a third party firm reach out to your won and lost customers to find out why they did what they did and document it.
Salesforce automation, marketing automation, and sales enablement are the names of the game today.
While the pipeline is still a valid concept within this framework, your pipelines, funnels, etc. all happen under The A.B.C.D.E. Sales & Marketing System™ umbrella that looks like this...
With that in mind, here are some sequences that can and should be automated in your E-Commerce world:
- Cart abandonment
- According to Wikipedia, 67.91% is the cart abandonment rate for online retailers.
- Since most consumers have already entered all of their contact information before bailing on the final step, ensure you have a multi-media, multi-step process for getting back in touch with them to bring them across the goal line.
- Homebuyers need home warranties and carpenters and gardeners and pool maintenance and interior designers.
- Car buyers need floor mats and paint sealants and oil changes and car washes and roadside assistance
- Go see how GoDaddy does their up-sells. It's annoying...but thorough, effective...and profitable.
- Maybe I have your Platinum package in the shopping cart for $10,000 and get cold feet. Before I leave have a pop-up that offers me 10% if I pre-pay or 20% of the Gold edition or a 30-day free trial of the Silver edition.
- If I got far enough along to almost buy it means I probably want that or something similar that you or your competition offers. Don't let me leave without giving me one to three more ways to buy from you and feel like I'm getting the best value.
- Cross-sell/Affiliate sales
- Cross-sells are really up-sells for all intents and purposes.
- However, one subtlety that makes this different is when you present something from another vendor because it's something you don't offer.
- This could be done after the purchase or as part of your cart abandonment sequence.
- Let's say you sell custom picture frames and you just landed a new customer. You take them through your up-sell sequence and maybe they buy everything you offer, some of what you offer, or none of what you offer. As a final step—or in your thank you/welcome sequence—include a link to your friend/peer who makes custom drapes or custom ceiling fans or slip covers for furniture.
- As an affiliate partner of theirs you are either paid per lead and/or paid a percentage of what they buy.
- Your friend gets an easy sale without spending money to acquire them and you get free money.
- P.S. I have an affiliate program you can sign up for here.
- Making the sale is NOT the end goal. You're only halfway through the professional relationship.
- Now you have to fulfill and over-deliver to delight your customer to get them coming back for more and bringing their friends.
- Your CRM should connect to your E-Commerce platform to tag your contact's record so you know they are a customer, when they purchased, how much they spent, what they ordered, when they expect it, etc.
- If another company is fulfilling the order your CRM should notify them immediately with the correct information.
- Now that you have your customer's money it's go-time. Now you prove why they made the right choice by exceeding their expectations.
- In the direct response marketing world they have what is known as a "stick sequence." This is the thank you/welcoming/onboarding sequence that gets the customer to stick around.
- You're confirming their brilliance of going with you.
- You're removing buyer's remorse.
- You're sprinkling in little bonuses they didn't expect that tickle their fancies and get them even more excited about their decision to do business with you.
- This could include an email series, a video email, a text message, a phone call, a thank you bonus gift that is mailed to them, a social media shoutout, etc.
- Be creative. Be thorough.
- Apple fans are ready to buy a new iPhone every September.
- Car buyers are ready for a new car every three years.
- Even homebuyers could be ready for a new home every five years or so. (Or maybe an investment property or a home for their parents who are downsizing and moving closer to them or their kids are heading off to college or getting married.)
- Software is upgraded annually as are home warranties.
- Know what the timing is for upgrades and/or renewals and build that into your CRM + E-Commerce platform so you get guaranteed easy money in the future.
The more the merrier here. You need to be able to slice and dice your data to know what the heck is going on.
HOWEVER, don't get bogged down here. At the end of the day you need to know just a handful of things to have a thriving business:
- Cost to acquire a lead
- Time to convert a lead to a sale
- Net margin
Yeah, yeah, there are all sort of pivot tables and pie charts and trend analyses you can run on everything from your PPC to CPC to CPA to CPM to ROI and KPI and...and...and...
As you grow it pays to refine every step of your process because squeezing out 1% of margin in a $100 million business is worth $1 million dollars.
But if it takes you three weeks of tinkering and an extra $200/mo for some add-on tool that helps you get an extra 1% out of your $100,000 business...you just lost a lot of money and time, which is money.
So be smart about this.
The gov'mint is gonna get their share so make sure you're tracking sales and taxes accurately.
Some states want you to charge taxes on subscriptions.
Others want you to collect disposal fees on what they deem hazardous materials such as computer monitors.
With 50 states plus D.C. and Puerto Rico and countless cities and counties that may want their fraction of a penny, you need to know what the rules are and abide by them or get ready for a world of hurt. (I've been audited by both the IRS and the California Board of Equalization and it's friggin' painful! [Both times I won and owed nothing but both were extremely time-consuming and worrisome.])
So make sure your E-Commerce platform makes it easy to account for taxes and/or has integrations with 3rd party tools that can do it for you.
With tools like Zapier, you can make most any major software platform on the market speak to and work with any other major tool.
However, it is nice when your platforms have native integrations. Not only will it save you a little money, it's more reliable, faster, and easier to troubleshoot when glitches do occur.
So as you consider a CRM, dig into how it connects with your preferred E-Commerce platform. Is it native? Is it via API? Is it via 3rd party connectors like Zapier or Piesync?
Some CRMs do not have broadcast email capability so you will need it to connect to/integrate with something like MailChimp or Aweber.
Will you be sending direct mail, text messages, or making VOiP calls from your CRM? What about video emails as I do with BombBomb and Bonjoro?
Do you need your team to track, post, and engage with your social media following?
All of those types of integrations and more must be considered when you're looking at CRMs and E-Commerce platforms.
What To Do?
So what do you do now?
If you're just getting started the argument could be made that there is no wrong move other than not moving. In other words, jump in and figure it out as you go.
That's how I got started back in 2006.
However, by 2008 I was ready for some structure, for some best-in-class CRM/Email Marketing/Marketing Automation/E-Commerce tools.
Fortunately I did not have a large team to re-train or fight with so it was an easy transition.
Then I did it again in 2014-2015 and it was much harder, more involved, and took a lot more planning, coordination, and time.
So start by taking my free CRM Quiz.
Then go through the Process Before Login planning.
Then schedule some time with me to review your answers and I'll help you make the right choice.
This decision will shape your business, your income, and your life for years to come, so commit the time and energy to making the best decision you can.
Market like you mean it.
Now go sell something.