Building the Infrastructure for Sales and Marketing
There are two critical transactional systems associated with sales growth for B2B companies. First, you have the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, also called a Sales Automation system. This is the system that keeps all of your prospect accounts and contacts organized, and tracks the sales process across sales reps. Second, you have the Marketing Automation (MA) system. This system keeps track of your digital marketing campaigns for all the contacts you have in your database.
Why CRM and MA Frustrate B2B Executives
The universal frustration I see among B2B executives is the lack of clarity and visibility they have into their sales and marketing performance. The cause is not the CRM and/or MA systems they have chosen – even the most rudimentary tools can provide the reporting they need. The problem is the configuration of those systems to track data in a way that will provide sales and marketing executives the views that are important to them – to see the data in a way that gives them the answers to “why” things are happening (or not happening).
You would think Salesforce.com or Microsoft Dynamics would easily solve these problems, but the reality is that these CRM systems are platforms. Because they are used across a variety of sales processes and industries, they must be generic enough for any company to use them. But to make these systems work for your unique business, you must know how to configure them appropriately.
The Sales Automation System – Why it Fails
Most companies have a systems administrator configure their CRM. That individual is certainly able to configure the system based on the company’s sales process, territories, sales reps, etc. However, a typical administrator is not an expert in sales and lead generation processes.
Recently, we were working with a large B2B software company, and the Chief Revenue Officer told me he couldn’t see the trend in the size of his pipeline over time. He was under the impression that Salesforce.com could not produce this report, and that they were going to have to switch CRM systems.
Given that this is one of the most fundamental reports used in sales and marketing performance evaluation, I was astounded. I asked him why he thought that Salesforce.com could not produce this report. He said his Salesforce.com administrator told him that report was not possible.
This company’s Salesforce.com administrator had originally worked in contracts and she configured their Salesforce.com instance to automatically calculate the amount of an opportunity based on the elements of the contract. This was great for the contracts department, but it broke the historical tracking capability in Salesforce.com. So, the Salesforce.com administrator was correct, she could not trend the pipeline value over time. But the reason was because she didn’t understand how to configure the system KNOWING that the sales executive would need to see information in a certain way over time.
I like this example because it clearly shows that everyone is doing the best they know how to do, and with good intent for the company. But neither one (the Salesforce.com administrator nor the sales executive) knows what they don’t know.
The Marketing Automation System – Why it Fails
From rudimentary email blasting tools to sophisticated marketing automation platforms, there is one reason that almost all of them fail to provide the insight needed to optimize marketing resources: They can’t connect marketing campaign performance to closed bookings performance.
Sales automation tools were built for Sales teams. Marketing automation tools were built for Marketing teams. They tend to perpetuate the chasm between these teams because they do not take a holistic view of the revenue generation pipeline.
Marketing teams often consider the campaigns that generate the most leads to be the most successful. The reality is that lead generation is only a leading indicator of a successful marketing campaign. Leads are worthless if they don’t result in closed business. Being marketing strategists, we know that there are different types of campaigns – those that are an educational touch, and those that are intended to generate a sales lead. Both are required for a powerful lead generation engine. We also know that educational campaigns will generate a lot more responses than a campaign with a call to action to demonstrate a product or solution. If we simply evaluated campaigns based on the most responses, we will not have a good view of marketing performance.
For B2B companies with long, complex sales cycles, there is often a significant time delay between a lead being generated and sales opportunity being produced – much less the close of that opportunity. And this is where the gap between the Sales Automation system and the Marketing Automation system leads to the breakdown in visibility across (what should be) a unified revenue pipeline. This is also why answering the question, “what is marketing’s contribution to revenue” is often so elusive.
How to Make Sales Automation and Marketing Automation Systems Work for You
We have implemented and reconfigured hundreds of sales and marketing automation systems that have suffered from these failures. We’ve done it so many times that we’ve automated the process. We call it “Strategy Automation,” because we direct these transactional systems with a growth strategy in mind.
So, while you need a CRM/Sales Automation system and a Marketing Automation system to build your growth engine, you need to use best practices to implement and configure them so they will tell you what you need to know.
Check back in the coming weeks for additional posts in this series to better understand how Strategy Automation works.