How Old CRM Data Can Be Made New
In my last column, I discussed how organizations are realizing the value of using CRM data across the enterprise. I gave a few examples of some interesting use cases, but many of you asked for a deeper dive into a specific example of CRM data and how it can be used in some meaningful way to give insights or have a direct effect on revenue.
One of the big challenges with CRM data is that it gets voluminous and stagnant and harder to manage. CRM users who are driving revenue are focused on their “people” activities and motions and using CRM to navigate deals and win business. And no matter how good they are, they win a percentage of the time and then start these cycles all over again.
The question becomes, is there any value in the old opportunity and engagement data that can help sales teams win today? The short answer is yes. To examine how, I went to Brad Myers, the founder of RevMethods, who explained how to extract more value and win more business by connecting the engagement signals marketing generates today with all the valuable customer data residing in your CRM.
“Most marketing and sales organizations view the value of a lead based largely on the contact’s most recent activity,” Myers says. “Sales teams want leads showing ‘high intent’—i.e., the prospect’s action suggests they want to speak with sales. The vast majority of signals that marketing generates, however, are not of ‘high intent.’” Marketing establishes a lead score and assigns a value to various behaviors, and only when the lead score reaches a certain threshold does marketing notify sales that the lead may be worth their attention. But the reality could be different.
“Prospects are engaging constantly with all different types of digital assets, and many organizations sell many different types of product lines and services,” Myers says. “These people don’t necessarily engage in perfect alignment with the stages of our selling process, nor do they engage and show interest in a linear progression like a typical lead score suggests. We leave money on the table when we view prospect engagement through the artificial lenses we create.”
Rather than labeling behaviors like visiting a website or downloading a white paper as “low intent” activities, we should consider them of “unknown intent”; we really don’t know. Look to see whether your CRM holds any previous history that can add context and color and makes prospects more valuable to sales. When dots are connected, sales reps become better equipped to have more meaningful conversations with prospects they might otherwise have missed.
As Myers explained, “Salespeople are smart. Much like heat-seeking missiles, they will course-correct and take action when provided valuable information that can help them win more deals.” What’s more, using CRM data in this way lends weight to the notion that what happened in the past matters to your future results. Companies change, as do their competitors and markets. Providing more context to sales can create real opportunity.
Diving deep into CRM data also has implications for the entire customer journey. Customers are constantly evaluating the allocation of future budgets based on how well we execute the promises we made to win an opportunity or sell a specific product or suite of products. As Myers puts it, “There are certainly implications for the marriage of how marketing engagement and CRM data from both the sales and customer service side of things provide different lenses on our customers and prospects.”
After attending a CRM platform provider event in the fall, I can certainly see why the major players are now aligning on the concept of a complete customer data platform. If we can make logical connections among the ever-growing number of databases used in enterprises, then we can also learn new ways of modeling customer journeys and more effective ways of maximizing wallet share.
I find it interesting that there can be as much value in data connected to lost sales cycles and prospects who stopped engaging as there is in all of the data connected to our wins. Lots of data points stranded in silos remain lifeless, and unless we find a way to connect the dots, we will probably continue to sit on piles of data without ever changing the game.
Danny Estrada is the vice president of consulting at Rare Karma. Throughout his career Estrada has been a CRM evangelist and expert at leveraging technology platforms to create business value. He has been a senior director at KPMG, thought leader for Salesforce and Microsoft, and published in an industry whitepaper by the Harvard Business Review. He also holds an executive MBA from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.