CRM Needs A Makeover; Marketing And Sales Need To Share Skills

Some 57% of the buying process -- marketing's territory -- gets done before customers interact with sales. Search, social and other online media continue to force the shift. The change requires marketing and sales teams to work more closely together to understand how changes in the buying funnel impact their respective teams, per a study from SAP and Harvard Business Review Analytic Service.

Marketers need to work with sales teams to help them learn how to penetrate the sales process that happens without them, said Johann Wrede, customer engagement solutions, global senior director of solution marketing at SAP. "Salespeople need to be more active on social media, but in a non-salesy kind of way," he said. "They need to participate in LinkedIn groups or have a blog. These are marketing skills."

The model aims to help sales and marketing gain insight, collaborate with "empowered" online consumers, and understand the individual buyer, especially when it comes to business-to-business transactions. The change begins with moving from a customer relationship management strategy to customer engagement, as consumers bounce through non-linear buying processes.

"CRM is a dated approach," Wrede said. "It's easy to integrate the technology, but much more difficult to create strategies that change the culture of a business."

The study aims to help companies transition from CRM to CE. "Winning at Sales in a Buyer-Empowered World" focuses on sales organizations, but hidden in the context are key ideas affecting marketing departments in the same way such as "65% of sales organizations say rising customer expectations are their number one challenge" and "37% of businesses expect revenue increases when applying analytics best practices to sales."

One thing is certain -- marketing and sales need to work more closely to understand how changes in the buying funnel impact their respective teams.

Wrede said changes that impact sales teams also impact marketers. "Customer expectations increases impact teams, as do competition, product lines and tools like big data, mobility and predictive insights," he said. "Sales and marketing are beginning to converge. Sales teams need more marketing skills and marketing teams need more sales skills."

Since customers are now in control of the funnel, there's no line that signals when it's time for marketers to hand the job to sales.

1 comment about "CRM Needs A Makeover; Marketing And Sales Need To Share Skills".
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  1. Anita Holley from Maximizer CRM Software, August 11, 2014 at 9:59 a.m.

    Love this article Laurie and really couldn’t agree more. Having been a marketer for over 15 years I was so tired of the marketing/sales blame game… and I remember one sales manager I worked with saying “there is no such thing as a good marketing lead, only a good sales person who converted it and likewise, there is no such thing as a poor sales person only a poor marketing lead that wasn’t really a lead”. That is being a little unfair on Sales – because I have witnessed the frustration of calling 100 leads and being told ‘no’ every time.

    So, I haven’t thrown in the towel on CRM, but I have changed the meaning of ‘C’ to ‘content’. As you quite right state, consumers have changed their purchasing habits and the power of the sale is no longer with the knowledgeable sales person, but with the company that offers the most desirable content, that educates the consumer to want to purchase their product.

    I’ve written a number of blogs and release a whitepaper on the subject you can get a copy at but in short, I used my CRM data to look at what marketing content was being digested, when and via what channel. Using this information I could build a map for each piece of content, identifying the position of the prospect within the buying cycle and also what content to offer next that will push them down the sales funnel still further until at a ‘sales-ready’ point. So for example someone reading my blog has a fleeting interest and is not a lead, someone downloading a whitepaper is researching and often at the start of the buying cycle. If they download an interactive ebook, they tend to be further down the sales funnel and looking to answer specific questions and finally if they attend a webinar they are close to being sales ready. Using CRM marketing automation, I can set up lead nurturing campaigns that direct prospect via these content maps to becoming sales ready and by capturing all this information within the CRM, including pages visited, twitter responses, LinkedIn comments, resources downloaded, Sales can better prep for their first call, achieving much higher conversion rates. Sales and Marketing therefore can be friends!

    Anita Holley
    Maximizer CRM

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