CRM for SMBs: Tying Sales and Marketing Together

It’s no surprise that when each of your departments work together you deliver a more cohesive customer experience to your leads and clients.

However, very few businesses have established a collaborative environment, and many still work in silos. These departmental silos only create confusion amongst teams, business-wide data issues, and fragmented customer relationships. Knocking down those silos and creating a unified business contributes to increased productivity, happier employees, and overall better customer experiences.

How CRM for SMBs can help break down silos

One of the biggest challenges facing businesses today is the lack of shared data between departments. Departments work within their own silos, creating their own data sets. While this might work for them in the short run, this data only represents a small portion of the customer experience. 

If sales only has one view of the customer, from a sales perspective, they are missing out on campaign touchpoints, website visits, customer support inquiries, and so on. They do not have a full view of the relationship between the company and customer. This lack of contextual data weakens the sales relationship. Sales is unable to tailor their approach based on the behaviors and actions of the customer. 

On the other hand, when data is shared across departments, everyone in the organization has a complete and up-to-date contact record filled with both behavioral and demographic information. Comprehensive contact records allow for greater personalization and segmentation, higher internal productivity, and a more efficient organization as a whole. 

Departmental collaboration encourages accountability between departments. Because shared data is beneficial to all, when a contact record is incomplete, it affects its usability. For example, if marketing doesn’t have access to sales data, they have a harder time creating tailored lead nurturing campaigns. Not to mention, sales and marketing (along with customer service) should share a common goal – to create seamless and personalized experiences that drive conversions and ROI. 

A seamless experience means unrecognizable transitions between sales and marketing departments. The customer journey should span across all departments, not just one. Instead, a lead shouldn’t feel any turbulence between departments. Sales and marketing are two sides of the same coin. Marketing messages and touchpoints are directly connected to sales touchpoints, and effectively guide contacts through your sales funnel and conversion points. 

The problem with departmental silos

Department silos create divergent visions and goals. Marketing wants to bring in as many leads as possible, while sales wants to focus and close qualified leads and higher revenue deals. Sales complains to marketing that they aren’t delivering enough qualified leads and marketing blames sales for not doing enough to follow up with the leads they bring them.

This is how departmental silos traditionally have functioned in the past. Everyone is out for themselves. This mindset fosters competition and conflict over collaboration and teamwork. Unfortunately, this attitude will also rear its ugly face to the customer as well resulting in a clunky customer experience. 

Establishing a common goal – generating more conversions – benefits both sales and marketing. Marketing focuses on bringing in the leads that sales can more effectively close. Sales provides valuable feedback about lead quality, the type of conversations they are having, demographic data, and more. It’s a win-win.

For example, if sales wants to close more high-value deals, they need to discuss with marketing what those leads look like. Marketing can then adjust their strategy to target more high-value prospects. 

A shared goal means sales and marketing are in alignment to more productively nurture and convert leads into customers. 

However, creating a shared vision requires shared data. Having a single contact record that tracks all touchpoints across the customer journey not only provides sales and marketing with a more complete picture of the contact and their relationship with your brand, but also gives each department access to invaluable data that they can use to build better relationships and ultimately close more deals. 

sales and marketing functions

Source: Greenrope

Siloed data is fragmented data. Fragmented data can only be used for so much and can result in errors and embarrassing mishaps.

For example, if marketing doesn’t have sales data, they won’t know where a lead is in the sales funnel, what conversations they have had with sales, and additional demographic information, among other things. Without this data, marketing has a much harder time segmenting your database and personalizing outreach. Not to mention, without this data, it becomes harder to create accurate buyer personas for targeted marketing campaigns. 

In the end, all of these issues result in a clunky customer experience, sending your leads and customers to the competitors that get it right. 

Small business challenges

Creating cohesion between sales and marketing sounds simple enough, right? Unfortunately, so many small businesses lack the resources, strategy, and technology to align their departmental efforts. 

Many businesses sit comfortably with business as usual. However, as our world continues to change, it’s important that businesses adapt to become more competitive in the marketplace. 

It can be challenging to take on new initiatives and transform your strategies, even in a small business with few employees. The two biggest challenges businesses face are 1) lack of resources and planning and 2) they don’t have the right technology for the job. 

Restructuring and redefining strategies to better align your departments takes time. First, you need to sit down with your team and develop a transformation strategy. You need to define your vision and identify the tactics needed to reach your goals. Business process management plays a large role in understanding your current processes, and developing new, more effective ones.

Next, you need to execute. Execution requires more than just department heads, in fact, it relies on the buy-in from your entire team. This means that everyone needs to understand the new strategy and how it improves their working environment. Not to mention, they need to know how to use the tools adopted to facilitate this new way of working. 

Technology, in and of itself can be a challenge. There can be a reluctance to change or adapt to new technologies, like CRM. This happens when management does not successfully relay the importance and benefits of CRM, and does not commit to proper training. Missing this step often leads to poor user adoption and failed initiatives. 

As previously discussed, in order to effectively align your departments, they need to share information. This means they must all use the same technology. It’s important to select software that works for the entire organization, not within your silos. 

To choose the right software for your organization, you first need to explore how sales interacts with marketing. 

How sales interacts with marketing

Traditionally, sales and marketing have worked separately. Marketing was tasked with generating leads and building the top of the funnel, while sales’ job was to connect with and convert those leads into paying customers.

While this sounds like a natural and seamless relationship, there were a lot of issues with this tunnel vision approach to each. The biggest issue was that they didn’t share information with each other; there was no collaboration. Sales complained that the leads marketing sent weren’t qualified, and marketing claimed that sales was not doing a good job following up with their leads. The two departments clashed. 

While this approach may have been effective in the past, departmental silos serve no purpose in today’s business environment. 

Marketing’s job isn’t finished when a lead hits the top of the funnel. Marketing, instead, spans through the entire customer lifecycle – from top of funnel to retention. Marketing is involved in generating leads, nurturing relationships, converting clients, and retaining those relationships through additional outreach, customer service, and more. 

how sales and marketing interacts

Source: Greenrope

Effective sales and marketing teams are just that, a team. The two work together to define a qualified lead, design the lead nurturing process, and increase conversion rates throughout the whole funnel, not just the top or the bottom. 

Why the two need to be integrated

Very rarely do people come to a website ready to purchase in the B2B space. The majority of buyers are in the discovery or research phase, looking for more information on your product and service. Some are further down the funnel, and very few are ready to purchase right then and there.

Because the buyer’s journey isn’t linear and leads are at different stages of the funnel, sales and marketing should work together to create strategies that resonate with buyers at each stage. 

Marketing creates messaging to educate and encourage buyers to sign up for a demo, activate a trial, purchase a product, and more. They do this through perfectly-timed and personalized outreach. This assists sales in their efforts to identify and close the most engaged and qualified leads. Whereas, the leads that do not convert through these efforts can be placed in a continuing lead nurturing campaign, and sales can follow up with them in a more appropriate timeframe. 

Sales and marketing work a lot like a football team. The quarterback (marketing) throws the ball, and the wide receiver (sales) catches the ball and scores the touchdown. The rest of the team protects and supports those players to make sure the ball gets to where it needs to go. The team can’t score if they do not share the same strategic plan, and the same goes for marketing and sales. 

How CRM helps integrate sales and marketing

CRM (customer relationship management) for small to medium-sized businesses is going to play a foundational role in sales-marketing alignment. As many businesses are coming to realize, CRM is much more than a sales tool. It is a tool designed to house and manage contact data that can be used across all departments – from sales to marketing to customer service. 

A CRM contact record should be the focal point of your strategy. The data contained inside a contact record should be both demographic and behavioral. It should include information about that contact and their company along with website visits, phone calls, clicks, events attended, support tickets opened, and so on.

All of this data creates a comprehensive 360-degree view of the relationship between company and customer. It also fuels your sales and marketing strategies.

As discussed before, customers are spread out across the funnel and buying cycle. Having this information, along with all the other demographic and behavioral data, marketing can develop the right messaging to be delivered at the right time, and sales can tailor their sales approach to make it more personal and impactful. 

benefits of crm for smbs

Source: Greenrope

An integrated approach to technology

In order to do this, you need a shared contact record. This comes from your CRM. An all-in-one CRM is the ideal choice for sales and marketing alignment. A software that integrates your sales and marketing functions allows for the real-time flow of accurate and up-to-date data. This is necessary for automated customer journeys, time-appropriate workflows, and seamless customer experiences. 

Investing in one–off solutions increases the chance for data errors and discourages collaboration amongst teams. Integration on the other hand opens the door to collaboration by keeping teams accountable, making it easier to access the data they need, and increasing overall productivity. 

Using our football example from earlier, if the quarterback only saw his own replays, he wouldn’t understand what went wrong downfield and what he could have done differently. Marketing needs to understand what drives lead engagement, the types of leads that convert, which messages are the most relevant, and so forth. Sales uses marketing data to understand where the lead is in the sales funnel, what messages they are reading, what they are clicking on, and how they engage with your company outside of the sales calls. 

When you have an integrated software that combines sales and marketing, you are able to look at your process as a whole instead of in fragments. 

Small business culture

Creating a collaborative team environment requires a culture shift within the organization itself. A customer-centric, data-driven approach must be adopted by your entire team in order to function effectively.

This means prioritizing data, training, software, and collaborative projects and strategies. Adopting a technology without buy-in from your team, or the proper training can actually do more harm than good. Poor user adoption and bad data leads to mistakes, a stagnant and fragmented customer experience, and overall unproductivity. 

Developing a clear path toward digital transformation with technology

Aligning your sales and marketing teams is part of a larger initiative – digital transformation. Digital transformation is the process of reevaluating and restructuring your current business processes to meet the needs of the digital world.

This means adopting technology that allows you to improve your customer experience online. The customer journey is more important than ever. Technology allows you to automate, segment, and personalize all communication with your leads and customers. It also enables you to collect and manage data that assists you in making strategic, data-driven business decisions. 

The key to success with digital transformation is fostering a culture that relies on data, technology, and process to drive your business process management strategy. Technology is paramount and selecting the right software determines the outcome of your digital transformation efforts.

When selecting the best technology for your team, you first need to understand their process, wants, and needs. Simply selecting a software for your team without buy-in from the people who will be using it is a recipe for poor user adoption. Instead, encourage the different departments to evaluate the software and get feedback before selecting the right solution. 

Remember, technology should be a solution to a problem, not another challenge.   

Best practices for creating a collaborative sales and marketing team                                                                 

It’s one thing to understand why sales and marketing need to work together, but another thing to implement it. Breaking down departmental silos and encouraging a collaborative environment requires a mix of strategy and technology. 

Here are a few effective ways to align your sales and marketing team. 

  • Implement a complete CRM. That means investing in a system that your entire team can use. A complete CRM should integrate sales, marketing, and as an added bonus, customer service into a single solution. This level of integration ensures that all departments have up-to-date, real-time data that’s usable. It’s important that each department can see the customer relationship as a whole – customer service calls, marketing emails opened, sales calls, and more.
  • Establish a common vision and goal. Building a powerful sales and marketing team means they need to work together. Design your sales funnel, identify your ideal clients, and come up with realistic KPIs. 
  • Meet regularly. Set up a regular sales and marketing meeting. Use these meetings to go over strategy, lead quality, your sales funnel and conversions, and current marketing campaigns. These meetings encourage collaboration and teamwork. It also keeps your team accountable to the KPIs you established.
  • Focus on business process management (BPM). Business process management helps you identify holes in your process and build a framework for integrated teams and collaborative strategies.   
  • Test your sales and marketing efforts. Are your efforts working? Are you converting higher-quality leads? How is your customer experience? What feedback are you getting from leads and customers? As your team learns how to work collaboratively, you will want to change, test, and revise your new strategies. 

Throw the touchdown pass

Today, customers are more focused on the customer experience than ever before. They are looking for personalized, seamless experiences from start to finish. If part of the sales process doesn’t meet their expectations, chances are they will leave for a competitor.

This is why it is so important to have a CRM where you can track every interaction with your customers. As an organization, you need to understand where people are dropping out of your funnel so you can improve your strategies. Because the customer journey is so dynamic, both sales and marketing play an integral role in developing a collaborative strategy for lead nurturing, engagement, and customer retention. 

There are so many options out there for CRM for SMBs. The challenge is finding and implementing the right one for your business. The first step is evaluating your current process and redefining how your business uses data. A complete CRM for SMB will house and manage all of your data across all touchpoints, giving you a 360-degree view of your customer, your business, and everything in between.

Gone are the days of unproductive, combative meetings between departments. When everyone is on the same page, everyone wins.

Ready to implement a CRM but nervous how your employees will take it? Learn more about how to encourage software adoption and improve your digital employee experience.

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