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Marketing: Tear Down Silos To Connect With Sales, Service

What’s the best next step for your marketing program?

That’s one of the top questions I hear as businesses begin crunching their CRM and marketing program budgets for the upcoming year.

Our related CRM philosophy is simple: assess your current marketing capabilities across five key areas — marketing strategy, campaign management, lead management, event management and marketing measurement — to pinpoint which ones are the most advanced. Then focus on the areas that need the most work. By doing so, you’ll get the most bang for your buck and see the biggest, fastest improvements.

But as organizations master these marketing capabilities, they must also look farther afield and find new ways to tie together marketing with sales and customer service capabilities.

As marketing executives prep their upcoming budgets, here are four related CRM capabilities that they should be pursuing:

1) Ask: What Do Sales & Customer Service Teams Know?

Studying how your marketing, sales and service programs cross over — or don’t — isn’t an academic question. By finding new ways of connecting these too often disconnected business capabilities, you’ll find new ways to use your current resources to increase the reach and effectiveness of your marketing program.

From a marketing standpoint, sales teams can’t change the products they’re being told to sell — but the marketing team can based on feedback from sales. Likewise, an essential marketing exercise is to always ask: for which products are we not getting service calls and what does that tell us about the product?

As that suggests, internal users can be a marketing goldmine for customer-related data. For example, if your organization has a field service team, don’t overlook what front-line service personnel can tell you about how current products — and branding — succeed or fail and what new types of products customers might need (but maybe not even know they need).

2) Focus On CPQ To Increase Sales Volume

One of Cloud Sherpas’ financial services customers who sells insurance found that — as is common in the industry — it was closing only 10% of its quotes. With senior managers intent on increasing revenues, the business had two choices: either increase its close rate, which it didn’t think was feasible, or generate more higher quality quotes so that the 10% close rate would deliver a greater number of actual customers.

The company selected the latter approach, but to make it happen the company needed to focus on automating its configure, price and quote (CPQ) processes. By bringing together marketing, sales and underwriting and automating as many related processes as possible, the company has been able to generate a greater number of quotes — and book more sales — using existing resources.

3) Tap Marketing Automation

Beyond finding new ways to make their sales and service programs connect with marketing, many businesses continue — and rightly so — to tap cloud-based CRM tools. In particular, many chief marketing officers are seeking to add two key marketing enhancements: campaign management and lead management, which includes lead nurturing.

The fastest way to tap into those capabilities is via marketing automation software, such as that offered by Eloqua and Marketo. Numerous Cloud Sherpas customers, including Panasonic, say that, after implementing CRM software from the likes of salesforce.com, adding dedicated marketing automation tools is their key next step toward achieving their ultimate goals.

4) Touch Cloud-Based Marketing Analytics

Many Cloud Sherpas customers have also been increasing the returns on their CRM software investments by giving their chief marketing officers access to better analytics tools. Such tools help marketing programs address that historical trouble spot: tying marketing spend to sales results while identifying and deconstructing the company’s most valuable — and profitable — leads.

The business driver here is simple: Once organizations get their core operational capabilities in place for marketing and marketing managers gain experience using the new features, CMOs will then want to calculate their new marketing program results, including measuring campaign spend and identifying the company’s most profitable leads.

To help, many businesses have been tapping cloud-based CRM analytics add-ons from the likes of Cloud9 and Domo. Such tools help businesses accurately track marketing campaign investments and generate related reports. They’re also essential for following the customer lifecycle from prospecting to booking related sales.

Focus On The Whole Customer Lifecycle

One takeaway from my above recommendations is that beyond keeping track of hot marketing projects — and future CRM trends – businesses must also continue to refine their marketing mojo. That doesn’t happen solely by running focus groups and marketing campaigns, or even by building a 360-degree of your customers.

Instead, focus on creating a more holistic view of your organization’s whole customer lifecycle. Who interacts with customers and when? What unique insights — or business opportunities — might these interactions produce, even if they happen outside the marketing domain?

As you continue to identify, build and refine those connections, you’ll naturally find more ways not just to market effectively, but also to improve your business’ overall sales and service capabilities.

Learn More

Cloud Sherpas is one of the world’s leading cloud services brokerages and helps businesses adopt, manage and enhance their CRM investment by identifying desired business goalsfinding the right tools and technology for the job, and delivering rapid implementations that remain focused on achieving the desired business capabilities.

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user by Cal Dellinger.

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Cloud Sherpas [www.cloudsherpas.com] is a leading Google Apps Reseller, systems integrator and application developer. Our Google Apps Certified Deployment Specialists have migrated tens of thousands of users from legacy, on-premise messaging systems to Google Apps and Google App Engine. We help organizations adopt cloud computing to innovate and dramatically reduce their IT expenses. SherpaTools for Google Apps [www.sherpatools.com] is a free app from Cloud Sherpas that enhances the functionality and ease-of-use of Google Apps for both administrators and end-users.