In my previous life as a marketer, I once faced the conundrum of how to defend CRM as a tool to help make our organization more efficient. Our senior vice president could not see the reasoning behind the investment of building a CRM when we had a sales team who could call customers in their territory to generate leads and fulfill our business goals.
He wasn’t wrong — our sales team could call all 1 million potential customers to build awareness, hopefully garner interest in our products, and might eventually close the sale. This begged the question, “How can our small team of sales folks reach these customers, sell our point of differentiation, and close enough leads to deliver on our financial goals in the timeframe you’ve allocated?”
The answer was CRM. The efficiency that comes from building a strong CRM for both internal employees looking to meet their sales goals and for consumers who are getting exactly what they need from a brand in order to make an informed purchase decision is the answer to many brands’ challenges. The ability to reach a large audience with the right message at the right time in order to drive a conversion, before the initial point of contact between a salesperson and the customer, streamlines the entire sales process while providing the consumer data other brands are left guess.
Having spent most of my career working “brand side”, I worked with agencies to determine where to invest our scarce working media dollars to deliver our business objectives. Before any investment was made, I was careful to ensure I had the fundamentals locked down.
- What are you business and marketing objectives?
- What is your communications strategy (i.e. benefit / RTBs / brand character) that supports these objectives?
- Do I have the campaign platform that bring the communications strategy to life? Do I have assets to reach my customers across multiple touch-points?
- Do I have a clear understanding of your customer’s path to purchase?
B2B marketers understand the complications of a long term sales cycle. Using the answers to the questions above helped lead me to the next set of influential questions that would help inform my marketing strategy.
- How will we nurture all of the leads that our marketing efforts generate through the path to purchase?
- How can we ensure that our marketing efforts maximize the productivity of our sales team?
Fueling your sales team with leads is no longer enough in a world where every person, advertisement, and touch-point in the consumer’s path to purchase becomes an influencer. We must take advantage of tools, like CRM, to help sales prioritize their efforts and maximize each action they take.
By nurturing each lead through drip campaigns and other marketing levers, you can naturally filter out leads that are very interested in your business vs. those that need more information before taking that proverbial next step. Plus, you can do this efficiently and with the tracking and data to optimize your plan early and often.
For more about the advances of CRM, check out my business partner, Jeremy Heilpern’s “Building Better Marketing with Effective CRM”.