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The CRM-marketing automation connection: An invaluable asset

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First, let me say that as a father of two, I think of this topic—CRM and marketing automation—to be as perfect as peanut butter and jelly, or milk and cookies. They're much better together. Does this make you hungry? When I think of sales reps (and I was one for years), I always think of their hunger for quality leads. And let's face it, it's marketing's job to feed them. But how? The American Marketing Association defines marketing as “the activity, set of institutions and processes for creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners and society at large.” Customer relationship management (CRM) is defined as managing a company's interactions with customers, clients and sales prospects. (I'll use the term as shorthand for the technology that performs the tasks.) The relationship between the goals of marketing and CRM is self-evident, yes? But the case I want to make is that when we use technology to connect the two, the relationship becomes synergistic. Here's the status quo today for many companies: Marketers are hustling to create and execute messaging, collateral, creative, webinars, trade shows, ad buys, social media and email campaigns. In parallel, sales is too often wasting time cold-calling and focusing on inappropriate leads, even when it has the benefit of CRM technology. When marketers use marketing automation to connect with the sales department's CRM tech, it becomes a conduit for actionable intelligence. Both departments benefit in new, profitable ways. With marketing automation, marketers can:
  • Create, automate and measure lead-nurturing and marketing campaigns, leading to conversion through timing and relevance. This is the old “right person, right message, right time” idea, and it still works.
  • Score leads based on specific activities, profiles and special events, resulting in lead qualification based on proven factors. These are actual, genuine, sales-ready leads.
  • Automatically manage, recycle and reassign sales leads based on specific behaviors, resulting in less waste of valuable leads. This is especially meaningful if you have a long sales cycle.
When marketing automaton and CRM are connected, salespeople can:
  • See exactly why a lead has been qualified and assigned to them.
  • Fully understand, prioritize and interact only with hot prospects.
  • Gain intelligence about a prospect's interests and activities to support informed conversations targeted to demonstrated wants and needs.
The nexus of connected marketing automation and CRM is the central command center for managing and tracking campaigns across multiple channels through the entire lead life cycle, from lead capture to booked revenue. The connection yields intelligence that can be gotten no other way, that lets marketing and sales make smarter decisions about where to invest their precious time and that validates the activities that lift the company's bottom line. In short: Marketing automation+customer relationship management=revenue automation. Jeff Linton is manager-product marketing at marketing automation company Act-On Software (www.act-on.com). He can be reached at jeff.linton@act-on.net.
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