Cloud Workflows – CRM integration with Zapier

Instantly connect CRM with Zapier's integration to make the best out of the apps you use everyday.

by Jon Arancio, Vice President

zapier blog

Build customer relationships by linking your CRM with Zapier's automation platform.

What is Zapier?

Zapier is one of the most successful cloud automation platforms available today. The main value of Zapier is that it instantly connects disparate applications into a cohesive solution. Rather than having one software attempt to be everything to everyone, Zapier is able to join thousands of the most popular solutions together. It goes beyond just marketing automation and can include alerts, form capture, auto responders/confirmation, record updates, and more.

Zapier has created an infrastructure for many vendors to tap into and make their tools accessible to others. Customers can then construct "Zaps" to perform necessary tasks that would be laborious for people to do by hand.

This kind of technology is not new. In the past, developers could write code to perform the functions that are handled by Zaps. The difference is that Zaps are quick and easy to construct by anyone. They require little or no coding and are ready to work on web apps automatically. This has encouraged software vendors to expand their products to function within the Zapier ecosystem. Generally, creating Zaps is cost-effective relative to straight programming.  Think of this as low-code, no-code customization. The Zap can poll for new contacts, and as an action, add a note for someone to follow up. This is one of many examples of what is possible.

How does Zapier work with a CRM?

If your company uses a CRM, Zapier can maximize the usefulness of the software. The Zapier environment consists of parts that join your CRM's data to Zapier and then triggers an action. Although Zapier builds the basic infrastructure, CRM vendors must create specific actions, lookups, and polling to perform useful functions within a CRM.

We have experience with integrating Maximizer CRM and Zapier. Maximizer is an accessible, popular CRM for small businesses that integrate with Zapier, delivering value at a competitive cost, with rapid deployment.

The first step is to create an Application in Zapier. Zapier lets you connect an external system (CRM in this case) to it. The Application has the CRM credentials, name of the workspace, and other details to make the connection between the two systems, and other popular apps.

The next step is to construct a Zap, which starts with a Trigger. Since the Application connects with the CRM, many of the Trigger options you can use have been built out by the CRM vendor.  You can poll for new or updated data and then capture that change as it occurs. Then Zapier moves info in stages, filtering the data until you isolate just what you want to act upon.

Finally, you evoke one or more actions on the data - again primarily from the library of CRM functions.

zapier flow

How can Zapier create and update CRM data?

External integration - web form submissions to create or update leads

One common use of Zapier is to interact with a web form and log it as a lead in the CRM. This process starts with a Zapier Application to connect to the web form. You can have an existing website that uses Gravity Forms in several places. Gravity Forms is an existing tool under Zapier, that provides a simple way to identify the form, pass credentials, and collect the submission for the next step. A visitor could enter their contact information to request a quote or ask for a service. The Gravity Form step creates the trigger to initiate the process. When someone fills in the form, the process starts.

Next, a new step is added to connect to the Maximizer CRM database. Maximizer has created a library of events to poll, search, or edit data. In this step, we choose Find Address Book Entry because we are not certain (yet) if our visitor is brand new or someone we know. If the record is found to match an email address, we can perform an update. If the record doesn't exist, we can create a new one.

Zapier itself supports filters that let you split the path of this action based on the result being 'existing' or 'new'. Following these filters, we would go back to the new events in Maximizer and create one for existing contacts using Update Address Book Entry, and another one for new leads using Create Address Book Entry. This ends the process of collecting the lead information and creating a contact in the CRM. And all of this important work happens with no programming and relatively low costs of deployment.

Web form submissions to create or update leads

Notification event - assign tasks to new company lead

If we set up an automated process to add new leads, how do we let the sales team know it is time to make calls? There are a number of options but we want to provide an incentive to keep users in the CRM when prospecting. Therefore, we can create a new Zap that triggers when any contact information is added or updated in the CRM.  Then the first Zap will end up triggering the second Zap.

We can also insert a path before our action to route some of the tasks based on the source. For example, if it comes in from a support form, the path rule is directed to the Helpdesk person. If the lead comes in from a sales form, it is directed to the sales person. The action in both cases is to create a reminder in Maximizer for the appropriate person. This enhances our initial effort to streamline the webform to CRM process. It reduces data entry, maintains accurate data, and automates some of the work.

Assign tasks to new company lead

Internal CRM Integration - maintain shipping date activity

During the pandemic, some of our clients experienced difficulty sourcing products. They were using Maximizer to manage opportunity records, which included an expected ship date. Historically, these dates were relatively stable. A customer would agree to an order and it would ship mostly as planned. The sooner it shipped, the sooner the seller was paid.

The business maintained the ship date as a field on the opportunity and also as an associated appointment, linked to the opportunity. A problem arose when ship dates started to get changed, often multiple times per order. The users would have to update the ship date field and the related appointment so there was good visibility of what would ship next. As more shipments were rescheduled this effort to maintain both dates proved problematic.

The solution was to make a Zap that was triggered by Maximizer and also acted upon Maximizer. Here is how it came together.

The trigger was to monitor New or Updated opportunity records. We filtered this step to make sure a ship date field on the opportunity was populated. If that field was blank, the Zap would terminate. Next, the Find Appointment action was initiated to see if an appointment existed on that record. With that date queued up, we inserted a path. One branch actioned if the appointment existed, and updated the date field to the new date. The other branch of the path was evoked if there was no appointment. This one had an action to create an appointment with the ship date. The result is that users were only required to update one field and the other parts of the record followed along as dictated by their process.

Maintain shipping date activity

Other ideas

There are other tools that you might want to connect to your CRM:

  • Facebook Lead Ads
  • MailChimp Sign Up Forms
  • Google Forms, Google Workspaces, or Google Sheetsets
  • DocuSign

And similar apps to find or create leads and handle contact data.

What Is a CRM System?

Everything you need to know about CRM systems and how to use them to grow your business.

How do we get started using Zapier?

If you want to test the waters with Zapier you have the option to sign up for a free account. This would be useful for testing but there are significant limitations including:

  1. Limited to 5 Zaps (as of the writing of this article).
  2. Limited to single-step Zaps - one trigger and one action. Many of the examples provided used multiple step Zaps.
  3. No access to filters or paths. Some of the examples provided above used these elements.
  4. Maximum of 100 tasks per month. This is a relatively low figure for real life use.
  5. There are additional restrictions on performance and access to apps which generally drive users to a paid plan.

Most businesses will want at least the professional plan which runs about $50.00 per month. This includes paths, filters, unlimited Zaps, and 2,000 tasks per month. You can increase that 2,000 per month on any plan, with a bump in monthly cost.

Some of our clients have become comfortable using Zapier on their own and they create custom workflows as the needs arise. A majority of clients outsource this effort to our company because we are familiar with both the CRM and the Zapier environment. Because Zapier makes constructing these processes faster than custom programming, the overall cost is very competitive, even including the subscription fees.

Conclusion - cloud approach to automating interactions

There are many options for creating automated workflows with your CRM interface. Zapier is a leading option because it is accessible to many users, it is cost-effective and it has a very broad application ecosystem. Vendors (like Maximizer) want to be on the Zapier app list because it provides a means of connecting the CRM to thousands of other applications without having to develop each of these independently. This brings down the cost of integration for the vendors and in turn, the clients who use their systems.

For a modest investment in Zapier, a business can begin to connect completely separate technologies and construct logical processes that help automate repetitive steps. This frees up employee's valuable time to perform actions that technology can't.

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Jon Arancio, Vice President

Jon is the co-founder and Vice-President of Wintec Group Inc., a CRM software reseller and application support specialty firm. He helps clients implement Maximizer CRM, and provides outsourced application knowledge to firms who need the additional skills sets but are not looking to add support staff for this technology.

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