Marketing Automation

CRM Series: 3 Ways CRM Integration Creates Alignment and Drives Sales

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We’d like to welcome Justin Gray as a guest blogger in today’s post. He is the CEO and chief marketing evangelist at LeadMD. The company helps businesses generate and manage leads better through marketing automation processes and technologies. He can be reached at jgray@leadmd.com.

Integration is really kind of a dirty word in marketing – it scares a lot of execs to even say it. Lets face it – it sounds expensive and it sounds complicated. Not to mention, it sounds like something we can’t do without adding other bodies to the project, hours to the solution, and a probability for failure. The strange thing about integration is that, in addition to causing mass paranoia, it’s also necessary in order to evolve. What’s another element to the problem? There are a lot of marketing “dinosaurs”. We all know “that guy” – the marketer who hangs his hat on lead generation alone. We’ll call this marketer Lead Rex.

Lead Rex is easily recognizable through his primal concern with only the number of net new leads. Mired down by both a lack of funnel visibility and stubby, almost un-functional arms, he didn’t know what happened to the leads after he qualified them. That is sales’ problem, after all. Rex just identified marketing qualified leads (MQLs), passed them off to sales, and wiped his hands.

If you think MQL is enough, you might want to stop reading now.

Still here? Good.

Rex’s method of throwing leads over the wall may have been passable in the good ol’ days. But in an age of marketing automation and CRM, it’s downright negligent. MQL does not end the journey. So why, with all this technology, would any marketer take his eyes off a lead after passing it to sales?

Quite simply, if you haven’t integrated your marketing automation program with your CRM, you’re flying blind. In fact, you’re probably leaving money on the table. To learn more about the unlimited potential in CRM integration, download our newest ebook Driving Revenue Through CRM Integration.

Here are 3 reasons why integration is the golden key to improving sales, taking a (giant) step into the present, and setting your marketing initiatives free to flourish.

1. Give your boss the data he needs

Your boss’ decisions are only as good as the data they’re based upon. How will he forecast resource needs without velocity reports? Where will he apply marketing resources without closed-loop visibility into funnel abandonment and scoring methodology? Which programs will he shelve, and which will he double-down on? Without understanding cost per lead, opportunity, deal win, and deal loss, it is difficult decision and impossible to predict.

No sales and marketing leader worth his salt will make decisions based on data that drops off at MQL.

2.  Keep sales accountable to SLAs

In a high-functioning marketing automation effort, timing is everything. Your prospect just downloaded your whitepaper. How long will it take before sales picks up the phone?

With marketing automation, you know exactly when your prospect took the bait. By tightly integrating your marketing automation engine with your CRM system, you’ll know how quickly your sales team set the hook. If the data reveals a correlation between short response time and close ratio, it may be time to tighten your sales SLAs and close some deals.

3.  Keep existing customers coming back

This is one of the oldest clichés in marketing, and for good reason – it’s true. It’s less expensive to keep an existing customer than to harvest a new one. And, yet, the biggest hole in most marketing automation efforts lies in nurturing existing customers.

Integration between marketing automation and integration closes that hole. By keeping sight of leads past the handoff and even past the win, you can continue the conversation, tighten the relationship, and increase the lifetime value of that customer.

Okay, I see the value. Now what?

To gain full visibility into the customer lifecycle and truly catalyze sales, you must tightly integrate your marketing automation efforts into your CRM. Whether you use Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, or some other platform, the following tips will help you form a clean integration that drives revenue.

  • Clean up your CRM data and optimize your lead scoring. No matter how well you plan your integration, you can’t build a great process around a lousy one. Get your house in order before expanding your programs.
  • Keep sales and customer service in the conversation. Remember the item above. It costs less to keep an existing customer than to find a new one. Sales and customer service are paramount to retention.
  • Don’t be a top-of-funnel dweller. Lead generation is sexy, but it’s also only a small segment of the deal lifecycle. Don’t be so focused on filling the funnel that you fail to realize you’re holding a colander.
  • Reinforce good behavior with training. Your integration strategy may look great on paper, but your sales and marketing teams will be the ones executing on a day-to-day basis. Be sure to support them with regular training.

We all know a few pre-historic marketers – dinosaurs at best and dunces at worst. With marketing automation tightly integrated with CRM, they can abandon the philosophies of old and stop throwing leads over the wall and walking away.

Let’s stay in the current era by following these integration tips and supporting your sales teams with tighter alignment and more revenue, instead of just MQLs that lead you to extinction. Want to learn more? Be sure to check out our new ebook Driving Revenue Through CRM Integration.