A Winning Formula
Sales and marketing often go together as well as oil and water. Yet without collaboration between the two, it is nearly impossible to create the single view of the customer needed to build a truly customer-focused company.
At the recent Frost & Sullivan Sales & Marketing Strategies Executive Summit, executives from five leading vendors spoke out on the subject during the SuperPowers of CRM panel, a discussion on the importance of unifying sales and marketing, and how to use CRM to do so.
The panel included Robb Eklund, vice president of CRM marketing for Oracle; Peter McCullagh, group vice president, CRM Strategy, of Siebel Systems; Cary Fulbright, senior vice president of worldwide marketing for Salesforce.com; John Grozier, vice president of CRM product marketing for SAP; and Brad Wilson, former vice president of marketing for PeopleSoft CRM, PeopleSoft. CRM magazine Editor-in-Chief Ginger Conlon moderated the panel.
CRM magazine: What should CRM's role be in uniting sales and marketing when the goal is to create a customer-centric organization?
Forward-looking organizations are, as they're looking at investment in CRM, not just thinking about departmental functionality, excellence, efficiency. They're thinking more horizontally: How can I link business processes across my organization from department to department?
Marketing historically focused on How can I attract leads and get them over the wall to my sales organization? The sales organization [said], How can I take that lead and close a transaction?
Best practices is about giving those organizations the infrastructure to work hand in glove so marketing [can] position itself as central intelligence, not just for sales or for marketing, but for the business. How do we guide our resources to the most profitable opportunities? Likewise, sales is integrated into marketing, fulfillment, billing, and all the other customer-touching activities to better coordinate customer interaction.
I don't think marketing and sales can do their jobs if they try and do it separately. Marketing needs sales and the feedback from sales to be able to say what's working and what isn't, and just looking at leads doesn't give you that feedback. You've got to know which campaigns actually close business and which campaigns don't.
In an increasingly competitive market, sales cannot be competitive without the tools that marketing's going to give them.
How do you take the relationship that an individual sales rep or sales channel has with an individual customer and apply it across a whole segment of customers? That's where sales and marketing need to work together. You take that individual experience that a rep has with an individual customer, and then group them together in a segment, and that's what marketing needs to do to better understand how to more effectively drive behavior with those customers.
What drives customer dissatisfaction is the lack of understanding and knowledge of the customer across the whole enterprise. So what we're hearing [from organizations] is, we want to be one company to the customer. That requires you to be able to integrate all touch points across the entire organization--sales, marketing, service--to deliver the kind of experience that is relevant and useful to the customer and has them come back, and want to do business with you more and more.
It really is an imperative to link the business process between marketing and sales, and of course across service and field service and other areas, as well, like PRM. [Another area] that's interesting right now is the opportunity to go ahead and leverage analytics in a much deeper way to actually segment customers...and help you make every part of your business more productive and more efficient.
What is the most important CRM trend helping companies integrate sales and marketing, and then benefit from that integration?
The most important trend is having real-time data. And that real-time view is increasingly at the velocity of business. It's important to understand who's touched a customer recently, and if you don't know that because the data's out of date, you'll have the kind of missteps and embarrassing situations that may undermine your sales efforts and your marketing efforts.
What's driving the requirement to unify and hold these together on a temporal basis, meaning a time basis only, is that the economy's gone in the tank and people aren't buying as much, and so people are much more picky about who they buy from and what they buy. Therefore, revenue growth of most major companies is anemic at this point in time.
This is not just a time-based issue. Over the long term, though, this is the way business will be. This is not [that] the economy has slowed, this is the norm going forward, and if you can't win in this space, you will not likely survive.
Analytics has been the province of a very few people in the organization. You've got statisticians using [these tools]. What's going to happen across all the enterprise CRM suites is, you're going to see a lot more analytics parceled out to people in different roles. You don't need to be statisticians to leverage the power of analytics. Ideally, your call center agents will have things pop up and simply tell them what's this customer's value to the company, how angry or how satisfied are they, and what things are they most likely to go ahead and buy. Everyone's going to have analytics baked into their own role-based application. That's the technology dimension.
Buying behaviors are a lot more pragmatic in this economy, and that has actually driven the marketing organization towards the sales organization and vice versa. Marketing needs to create a selling environment for that sales organization. It needs to manage content efficiently so that as my prospects come to my Web site or they're having an interaction with a salesperson, that whatever channel it is, [marketing] is able to provide personalized content specific to that particular inquiry. That's where organizations need to be focused. Marketing that is driving profit, not just contacts. Sales effectiveness as opposed to visibility or control mechanisms.
All businesses are back to fundamentals about revenue, profit, and customer satisfaction. All departments--sales, marketing, service--can be measured in some way, shape, or form around those fundamental metrics.
All sales budgets are smaller, all marketing budgets are smaller, [so] it's incumbent upon departments to figure out how they work together to solve those business pains, whether they're departmental or cross-departmental, and figure out how to drive revenue, drive profitability, or drive customer satisfaction.
CRM: So if sales and marketing need to work together, is it better to implement CRM as one huge project, or one pain point at a time?
It's really important to think about your long-term strategy and then pick a project that can get you successful in the short term.
What people want to do is use what they have currently in place. They don't want to have to rearchitect everything. Some folks will say you want one database for everything. I'm not sure I buy that. I think you only need to have more of an ability to work with existing enterprise assets. But you need to get business processes up and going, get users really using it. And that's a big key, because a lot of CRM systems go in, but they're too complex for people to use. Get people using it, learn from the experience, and then iterate around that.
But you do have to have a long-term strategy for it. You can't just fire the gun and then figure out where you're aiming it.
You've got to have a strategy and then pick off bite-size pieces and work where you can be successful, and go back to your business sponsor and say, "We know what we're doing."
We've never been and aren't a big fan of big bang. You've got to get human beings to act differently and behave differently and interact differently and work differently, both internally as well as externally, and that doesn't happen in 10 weeks or 12 weeks.
So if you're talking about changing the business and really transforming your organization to be customer-
centric, the reality is you've got to change human beings and change their behaviors, and you do that in bite-size chunks. That allows you to identify value, realize the value, capture that, and then use that as a funding engine to continue the growth of the business.
Fundamentally what makes a project successful is when companies pick pain points or business processes that they want to implement that have the biggest impact on their business. And whether they want to do that in seven weeks or 12 weeks or 15 weeks or 52 weeks, it's giving people the ability to do that.
There are also speed issues. People want to implement quickly something that impacts a small number of users. But the marketplace needs to understand that they need to solve real problems. They can't just say, "I want to put in CRM. I want to solve marketing. I want to solve sales." It has to be a discrete problem that they're trying to go after.
Focus on the near-term pains, and know what success looks like, but make sure that's part of a longer-term strategy. Know what your next step is going to be and make sure it's part of a grander plan. Get those best practices into sales, marketing, service, but know how you're going to extend them into the next organization, how you're going to link that business process and give continuity for your customers as they interact across the organization.
People think of CRM as a technology, because that's where you see all the money [spent]. CRM is not a technology. The technology is meant to be an enabler for changing your business process around customers and how you interact with customers and how you track customers, whether it's aggregated as a marketing organization or individually as sales.
CRM: How can integrating sales and marketing boost the return on investment from CRM?
Our experience is that companies that integrate internally across those processes see benefits in excess of 20 to 30 percent more than those that don't integrate across them.
Companies that are looking to solve a particular problem, where there's a measure behind it--and most of these things do have measures behind them--sometimes the [measure is] financial and sometimes not. There are softer measures, like customer satisfaction. But every time there's a measure behind [CRM], there's a statement that can be made about success or failure or degree of success or failure, with each one of these things.
A lot of the benefits of ROI you see in CRM today are about efficiencies. What's harder for a lot of companies to do is to actually close more business. And there are ways to do it in CRM, whether it's in sales or marketing or service, but it's very dependent on analytics, on covering deals that you wouldn't have found otherwise, customer segments that you wouldn't have found otherwise, profitable or unprofitable customers that you didn't realize you had. So analytics is a key driver for ROI and the revenue component of ROI.
What's kind of fun to do in this area is to think about the closed sale for your business, and then work backward from there in terms of how did you work the opportunity, how did you find the customer, how did you find the market? [Don't] work forward from trying to send out direct mail to people. Work backwards from the sale, look at what the process should be to maximize your overall return on your investment, and then look at how close your current business process fits and do a fit-gap analysis, whether it's in the marketing phase and lead-passing phase, how you work opportunities, how you prioritize sales force time and attention, and use that as a way to help you at least break through some of the more traditional thinking about how to generate ROI.
The ultimate ROI is when you eliminate integration, when you think about sales and marketing as one process as opposed to two separate processes that we're linking. I should have one common customer understanding in both organizations. I should be able to track that consummated transaction all the way back to that original contact with that customer.
So to the degree that you're able to kind of do away with integration, not just between sales and marketing, but any of these business processes, you're a step ahead.
Contact Editor-in-Chief Ginger Conlon at gconlon@destinationCRM.com