Most marketing and sales departments are flying blind

Read time 5min 50sec

Customers see over a million marketing and sales messages a year - almost two messages every minute. Yet, over 70% of sales leads generated though these initiatives are never followed up.

Those are frightening statistics. That means that the 10% to 30% of budget you`re spending marketing on isn`t working nearly as hard as it could or should. Sure, your marketing department is running lots of awareness campaigns. But is anyone noticing your marketing messages among the bombardment from every other company scrabbling for a share of mind? In any case, on what basis would you adapt or refine your marketing to ensure your messages hit home?

If your marketing department is beavering away generating sales leads, why is your sales team turning up its nose at most of them?

Making the right connections

Based on FrontRange`s 14 years of industry experience, I`m willing to bet that the answer lies in a lack of integration between marketing and sales. Do they share knowledge about prospects and existing customers? Is their respective information ever put together in a coherent form so that both departments can immediately see what the status is of a prospect or customer and adjust their approach accordingly, in order to increase the possibility of closing a sale? Is every customer touch recorded, so that both departments can see trends developing either in customer attitudes and needs or in the way your employees are meeting customer demands? Does your organisation have any handle at all on which leads end in sales and which don`t and why they do or don`t? Is there any direct correlation between the campaigns you run and the impact they have on your revenue streams?

My guess is that the answer to most of those questions is no. Not because your sales and marketing people don`t work incredibly hard. Or because no one in your organisation has thought of any of these processes and procedures and tried to implement them in one form or another. It`s just that there is no easy way to implement them without CRM technology.

There`s such a huge, rapid flow of information in sales and marketing departments that capturing and tracking it manually is virtually impossible - even if the age-old antagonism between such departments weren`t an inhibiting factor to start with.

And, manually sorting the information into coherent pictures of customers and the market is too time-consuming and subject to individual interpretation to be worth pursuing.

By contrast, the automation and integration capabilities built into CRM technology make it possible to connect, at every relevant level, leads generated by marketing to the resulting revenue generated by sales.

Getting people to believe in you

In addition, CRM technology is not just about operational integration and efficiencies. It`s also about helping to build that most elusive of human emotions - trust. Trust between sales and marketing. Trust between customers and both departments. Trust between customers and your company as a whole. And trust between the boardroom and sales and marketing.

CRM technology helps to build trust by tracking how a customer wants you to communicate with them, capturing historical information about each interaction and then making that information available across the entire organisation - including any pre-qualification resources such as a call centre.

With access to the right information at the time, your employees won`t irritate customers by duplicating sales or marketing approaches that have already been initiated, or by making repetitive requests for customer information. They can also demonstrate to the customer that he or she is well known to and understood by the organisation and that, therefore, they can serve the customer in the most appropriate way. Accordingly, the customer will see your organisation as a comfort zone and become reluctant to go elsewhere.

At the same time, automation assists in timeous movement of marketing leads to the sales department, enabling it to strike while a prospect is hot. Also, too often, leads are sent to sales on the basis of only one touch by marketing. Usually, two or three interactions with customers are needed to get them to the point of buying. A transparent, comprehensive interaction record in a CRM system will show marketing whether or not they need to do more work before passing the prospect over to sales. And that`s going to enable sales to trust the leads marketing sends them and encourage them to respond to more than 30% of them.

In addition, shared information means that sales and marketing can both work on refining approaches and campaign messages to individual prospects and the market generally, ensuring that your organisation`s messages are heard above the marketing din.

But, marketing`s role is not just to identify new leads. Best practice calls for marketing to nurture prospects to move them forward in the sales cycle. To do that, marketing needs to continue to learn more about prospects, encouraging them to share additional information. By building trust and interest over time, marketing can move prospects through the sales cycle until they are ready to have the sales team re-engaged.

Beyond sales

CRM technology also creates strategic benefits beyond short-term marketing-to-revenue links. It makes you a proactive, rather than a reactive, business.

For instance, sharing what you learn from each customer contact creates a customer-centric focus in your organisation. It creates a `corporate memory` about how to build customer relationships. So you`re never in catch-up mode when dealing with the market.

Mobile and wireless CRM technology ensures you are customer focused 24x7, because it gives your employees access to customer information and allows them to be in touch with customers no matter where they are or when the customer contacts them.

And, by using a CRM system that is best practice and rules-based, you know your sales and marketing staff will always be doing the right thing at the right time and won`t have to continually reinvent the wheel. You`ll be able to let them unleash their creativity and self-motivation without being at the whim of their potentially damaging personal idiosyncrasies.

It`s hard to see, actually, how you can lose by using CRM technology.

Editorial contacts
FrontRange Tracey Newman (011) 325 5600
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