CRM. Customer Relationship Management. But so much more. In today’s world, the CRM is often the pulse and blood line of an organization. It is more than the entry point for sales to put meeting notes or input an opportunity. It embodies pipeline management, firmographic information, individual actions and behaviors across digital touch points and can act as triggers in programs as well as notifying sales of sales-qualified leads. According to Salesforce, CRMs are known to improve customer retention, by as much as 27% – a critical KPI in our industry during rougher market environments.

Sounds like the cure to all your problems right? Oh, but we know how intricately detailed and customized all your systems have been developed for you. So, what does that mean? This omega of connectivity, intelligence and learning is no walk in the park.

As we work with clients who are in different phases of marketing maturity, there are different challenges to overcome along the journey. We would like to briefly take you through conceptual, and hopefully some practical, tips to take your CRM capabilities to the next level within your firm.

Data dump

As messy as it may sound, it is a necessary step to understand the different fields and information you are currently capturing. So work with all application owners, and we mean all, to understand which systems can have an automated feed, and if there are any regulatory adjustments that may be needed to adhere with GDPR. Within your CRM you may have some out-of-the-box (OOTB) fields that came with the system and can easily ‘plug and chug’ with other systems through an integration. However, there is also a very good chance that you have customized your instance for your firm’s needs. Noting which fields are OOTB and which are custom is critical for this step as well, in order to know what may need to be looked into later for step 2.

Speak the same language

Being digital marketers, we know what it’s like to sit in between technology and the business user. Hearing an explanation of a problem or enhancements on our systems can often be uninterpretable for the business to understand. The same can go for our digital ecosystem. While each system has their own specific purpose, they need to understand who else is playing in the sandbox. This means what are the similar fields that need to push/pull from each other, which data is the master of that field where, what is easily connected and what needs custom integration.

Find a home

Where should this data live? This question is not an easy one. Some may say the marketing automation system, others say all data should live in the CRM, while another group says to not clog the CRM with too much fluff data. Ideally a data warehouse would be connected to all systems via an API, call, data dump etc. in order to allow different groups to query and report on the data for actionable insights on passing off qualified leads. According to a study by MarketingSherpa, 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to sales; however, only 27% of those leads will be qualified. We would like to bring that number down by placing this data in a home that can be deciphered and passed off when relevant. Some may use a business intelligence tool to help, while others build their own home-grown solution within a SQL server. It really comes down to your budget, the business use cases, and team involvement for finding a home.

Feed the beast

Now that you have an integrated landscape, it’s time to nurture and feed the systems. With CRM at the hub, we want to be able to improve a customer experience, with enhanced communication, automate everyday tasks for greater efficiency and improve data and reporting due to an improved informational organization. Monitor actions closely, take note of when and where you see increased engagement from a campaign and what elements were used, never stop analyzing and learning from the data, and conduct tests on different elements during different campaigns to improve on.

Marketing is not the sole driver of a sale, however, with the right tools in place, we will be better equipped to move leads down the pipeline in order to hand them off as qualified leads to pair with opportunities and sales information stored in the CRM as pictured below.

Image Source: Capterra

With a more connected CRM, we will be able to act more quickly on a lead, nurture a potential retention, gather more valuable and targeted information for campaigns and hopefully get one step closer to marketing attribution. We are not saying it’s easy as we have seen firms take years to fully integrate, however there is no question of the value that it adds and increased attention it is receiving from higher-up stakeholders. Because this isn’t a short lived project, be sure to think it through from all angles, involve the right people, document the process and be okay with adjusting where necessary.

If you have questions about how to maximize the capabilities of your CRM and better organize your data to feed your campaigns, please contact us.