Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Why You Should Sync Your CRM and Marketing Automation

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By: Zach Watson, content manager, TechnologyAdvice

Disagreements between marketing and sales are well documented. More often than not, the two departments most responsible for fulfilling the needs of the customer can’t seem to get along.

What keeps the fires of their feud burning? Usually, misalignment and data silos. The bickering between sales and marketing often comes down to the quality of leads and the consistency of follow up. Marketing generates poor leads. Sales doesn’t follow up with enough opportunities to make an impact.

To get marketing and sales to stop bickering and start collaborating in a productive (and profitable) way, you need to make sure both parties have access to longitudinal data about their customers. In order to do that, you have to sync your marketing automation (MA) software with your customer relationship management (CRM) software.

Clarity Through Connection

Because marketing and sales are the two most customer-facing departments, it makes sense that their main software systems would hold the majority of customer information.

For sales, the CRM has long been the repository for lead and contact information, and it’s more recently become a type of operating systems for emails, social selling, and other important sales tasks.

The marketing automation platform is a less mature product, but it’s finding a place as a central hub for a number of marketing tactics that span email, social media, landing pages, pay per click marketing, and more. This wide range of functionality means these systems gather a tremendous amount of behavioral data.

Connecting the online behavioral data from a marketing automation system with the qualitative data in a CRM helps build a more holistic buyer’s journey, complete with data on leads throughout the funnel.

Better education. Better Leads.

Connecting these two systems is especially important for increasing revenue. MarketingSherpa reports that 61 percent of business-to-business marketers (which includes pharmaceutical and life science companies) pass every lead directly to sales despite only around 27 percent being qualified.
Talking to sales early in the purchasing cycle is contrary to how the majority of consumers — both business and personal — make decisions about products and services.

Postwire Founder and CEO Cliff Polan explains, “in the old world of sales, salespeople controlled the information. Today, all of the information is publicly available on the internet. The salespeople must now add value, because if salespeople aren’t adding value to the discussion, they’re losing.”

Consumers want educational material that helps them construct their own perception of the market. This reinforces the importance of marketing in the early stages of the funnel. For salespeople to remain relevant, they need to access and make use of the behavioral data generated from marketing automation to provide context for their conversations with leads.

Proper lead nurturing through educational marketing will also ensure that sales doesn’t intrude on the consumer when they’re still in the research phase. It takes some testing, but marketing should be able to use behavioral cues as a signal that a lead is ready to move to the next stage.

But this continuous buyer’s journey breaks down if sales can’t intuitively access the marketing data. Connecting the two systems is key to arming sales representatives with the context they need to address customers’ problems in a meaningful way.

Measurable Marketing ROI

Just as sales benefits from accessing a customer’s online behavioral data to clarify and confirm what they’re interested in, marketing enjoys a greater understanding of the success of their campaigns by accessing data from the CRM.

Since CRMs often record revenue data on a per-sale basis, marketing can quickly tie that information to a lead’s profile and segment campaigns based on number of deals closed, or actual revenue.

This may seem like an obvious goal for every organization, but being apparent doesn’t equate to being easy. Only 21 percent of B2B marketers say they excelled at measuring ROI in 2014. Many of them were not thinking of ROI in terms of revenue.

Aligning sales and marketing has key strategic benefits for both intra office morale as well as revenue. With the growing prominence of marketing automation, businesses now have an endpoint with which to connect the CRM.

Fusing these two databases breaks down information silos and creates a more complete view of the customer that benefits all parties. When selecting marketing automation software, be sure to look for integration with popular CRMs, or at the very least API availability that enables easier interface development.


About the Author: Zach Watson is the content manager at TechnologyAdvice. He covers gamification, healthcare IT, business intelligence, and other emerging technology. Connect with him on LinkedIn.
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