How to Make Your CRM and Your Marketing Automation Get Along

All great pairs—peanut butter and jelly, salt and pepper, Beyonce and Jay Z—may be good on their own, but the real magic happens when you put them together.

It’s the same with your customer relationship management (CRM) and your marketing automation platform (MAP). Without one or the other, you’ll still reach some of your business goals and you’ll be able to make some things work. But when you integrate the two, you’ll create a power system that does so much more.

Organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing functions enjoy 36 percent higher customer retention rates. They also experience 38 percent higher sales win rates according to Marketing Profs. So it’s time to put the age-old sales and marketing feud to rest and align the two teams and their technology.

A Sales and Marketing Relationship Gone Wrong

Before diving into the nitty-gritty of sales and marketing alignment, let’s talk about an attempt at sales and marketing alignment gone wrong. It’s important to note that just because you have a CRM and a MAP and maybe even a tool that connects the two, you’re probably not gaining maximum value from each platform. This was the case for Cireson, a leading IT provider based in the U.K.

Its marketing team was equipped with sophisticated marketers and their sales team was armed with a smart sales force, but the teams weren’t communicating the way they needed to be. The company was using a MAP it liked but had to have two different third-party connectivity tools to link it with its CRM, which was costing time and money. And the teams were still having to complete several processes manually, leaving room for human error and a lot of miscommunication. The CRM housed a wealth of information, so the solution to the problem, making the switch to a MAP that natively integrated with the CRM, was a no-brainer.

Once the provider integrated the MAP and CRM, Cireson was able to get rid of both third-party tools, eliminate sync issues, streamline lead follow-up, implement lead scoring, and automate all of its reporting. Ultimately, this provided a tighter alignment between sales and marketing, saving time and money while having a significant positive impact on the sales and marketing relationship.

Alignment Isn’t as Easy as Buying a New Technology

Although integrated technology is crucial to sales and marketing alignment, it’s important to note that your technology should always follow your process, not precede it. So before your CRM and MAP can get along, lay out alignment processes with your sales and marketing teams. Start with a meeting to recognize the misalignment.

Even if you think things are going well, there is always room for improvement. Involve leadership from both sales and marketing to map out a plan together. Dig deep and look at all the ways you should be working together as one team instead of compartmentalized departments focused on their individual pieces of the sales funnel.

Your next step is to write out a formal process. To get the most benefit out of this exercise, sales and marketing should go through this process separately and include both high-level and operational goals and strategies. Then the teams can swap documents and go through them together in person, taking pieces from each that both parties agree upon.

Once your combined sales and marketing process is clearly written out and both teams are in full agreement as to what is the plan behind your strategy, it is not time to stuff it in a drawer and never look back. Instead, create service level agreements (SLAs) for each other and treat them as living documents. These documents should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis. You’re not likely to get your process perfect on the first try, so you’ll need to keep looking back, working together, and updating where needed.

You’ve Learned to Communicate, Now It’s Time to Integrate

Once your process is laid out and both teams are in agreement, it’s time to put the technology in place that will enable your strategy. As noted in the example above, it is essential for marketing automation platforms to be natively integrated with the sales CRM.

Without this integration, it is difficult to create a consistent experience for your prospects and customers. And on top of that, too much time and too many resources will be drained trying to coordinate activities to ensure leads don’t fall through the cracks.

Companies can drive 5 to 36 percent of growth simply through alignment, according to SiriusDecisions, so integrating your platforms from day one without using third-party tools makes sense. From the first day of your MAP and CRM integration you can:

  • automatically push leads to CRM and assign to sales at the right time;
  • sync all activities between the two systems so sales can track each lead’s engagement;
  • help prioritize outreach to create efficiency in the sales cycle;
  • provide full visibility into each lead’s digital footprint so sales can customize conversations around interests;
  • give sales influence over the buyer’s journey from inside the CRM—sales can add leads back to marketing campaigns from inside the CRM if they need further nurturing; and
  • capture marketing’s impact on closed opportunities with built-in reporting. 

Let’s Just Get Along!

To echo the old War song, why can’twe—sales and marketing—be friends? The answer is simple—we can. When you have processes in place and your CRM and MAP get along, sales and marketing actually can get along.

However, to make this friendship work, integrating your MAP and CRM tools is no longer a nice bonus—it’s a necessity. You won’t  ever be able to align your sales and marketing departments if you can’t even align your technology platforms. With native integration and a lasting friendship between the two teams, you will see more leads, better leads, a consistent and closed-loop experience, and a greater ROI on your marketing spend.

Malinda Wilkinson is chief marketing officer of Salesfusion, where she oversees all aspects of marketing, including branding, messaging, lead generation, events, and operations. She is passionate about B2B marketing and building relationships, programs, and analytics to improve the value marketing delivers to an organization.

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