Marketing, Sales & The CRM Glue

Your ability to tap into the rich vein of existing customers with any accuracy comes down to one simple question, “how well do you really know your customers?” And by this I’m not really talking about your sales people (who, if you have a good sales team, will know your customers well) – what I’m talking about is how well does your business know your customers? Remember, a good CMO or marketer will know your customer personas intimately; they’ll know your target markets, your competitors strengths and weaknesses, and your channels and partners. But these things only tell part of the story – they give you the data that builds your product positioning, but they don’t deliver the path to the customer. 

The piece of the puzzle that will navigate your cross sell / up sell opportunities within existing customers is (or at least should be) your CRM. The most accurate and successfully executed cross sell / up sell strategies come from having clean and detailed CRM records. In fact, the best content and the most compelling products and services don’t stand a chance if you’re pitching them to the wrong business, or the wrong person at the right business, or (to some degree) the right person at the right business at the wrong time. You can see how quickly and easily this all goes wrong, and how hard it can be to come back from if your CRM is a mess.

I’ve contended with a fair amount of this in the past, and the“CRM cesspool” is generally born out of the same few reasons:

  1. Sales / account management teams who do not understand (or have not been shown) the value (to them) of getting client info in the CRM for the benefit of profiling.
  2. A lack of marketing involvement during CRM evaluation / procurement.
  3. Sales people / account managers who are “just too busy” to update CRM records. 

So let’s tackle these three briefly:

“I don’t understand the value of customer profiling in CRM”

If sales and account management teams don’t see the value of spending some of their time keeping their client records in check, then show them! If, as a marketer, you tell a sales person that clean CRM records would enable you to ensure delivery of the right content at the right time in their buy cycle, to the right people, that brokered wider conversations, that turned into sales opportunities – chances are they’d perk up to the idea. It would also ensure that their time was more effectively used, and makes their chance of converting far easier (or put another way, far more effective). For an account manager who may not be as commission measured on the sale, perhaps just KPI their client record keeping. The challenge here is that sales and account management teams often don’t visualise the value that data capture within the CRM can represent – they just see it as an admin headache.

“I don’t see the link between marketing and sales functions”

The link between marketing and sales should not be underestimated. In my primary business I’m fortunate to have both business segments tightly aligned. I pitch my tent right in the middle of the sales team, which is great for everyone to bounce ideas around. They feed back things they’re hearing in the market or from clients, which drives my content, and in return I put together strategies that help them deliver back to the market thought leadership on our relevance to that challenge or problem they’re hearing or seeing (and that’s just one very small example). 

Sales and marketing alignment has to be at the heart of your growth culture, and I wouldn’t work with any business that didn’t see it that way, because what I’ve seen and experienced tells me that only when those two functions support each other do businesses truly flourish in message, tone of voice, strategy, everything. So where does CRM come in? Your CRM is your “information engine”, and without the right information captured within it, how are you ever going to leverage it to propel (in this scenario) more product into your existing customers?

So marketing involvement in the CRM evaluation process ensures the business has the tools and opportunities to capture the right information in the right way so it may be leveraged at the right time in the future.

“I don’t have time to use CRM…it’s just admin”

The “just too busy”play is a hard one, because it’s an easy excuse to conjure up and difficult to qualify. It can also be spun into a multitude of justifications, my personal favourite being “would you rather I updated the CRM or was out selling to customers?”– one that can be difficult to respond to. That said, my response to this question is generally “would you rather the opportunities came easier, earlier and with less competitor risk, because they will if you invest a little time in to your customer intelligence data”? You have to assume sales people will be somewhat selfish in nature, so just treat them like they would treat a customer – that is to say, show them what’s in it for them!

To conclude, unless you have cohesive customer data that is accurate within your CRM, any up sell and cross sell strategy you try to implement is going to have limited success. So make sure marketing is deeply embedded into the sales aspects of your CRM procurement and implementation, and spend time with your sales and account managers demonstrating the benefits (to them) of having good, clean, detailed customer data.

%d bloggers like this: