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Customer Relationship Management: Not Just an App

Customer Relationship Management: Not Just an AppCustomer Relationship Management (CRM) refers to a type of software or application you can use to manage your interactions with customers, keep a customer’s contact information secure and manage deals and sales. Right?

Well, sort of. A good CRM will do those things for you, but apps can’t do it all. Customer relationship management should actually be about proficiently managing your relationships with your customers – meaning, putting the right tools in place to make sure you offer consistently great customer service. With all the lingo and the acronyms and the must-haves in the app world, we can forget that a solid CRM won’t help if there is no plan for actually managing customers.

Solidifying Your Strategy

Marketing automation can be helpful because the right platform gives you much more information than standard analytics tools ever will. If you are able to use marketing automation data to determine specific consecutive days that a certain visitor has spent on your site, it makes sense to contact that visitor personally, strategically discuss some of the areas of your site they spent the most time on, and determine how your offering suits their needs. Without marketing automation tools, you simply can’t give this level of service to your clients. In fact, you won’t even know what specific users are visiting your website. All Google Analytics and other services will give you is a lump of customer data that doesn’t single out specific IPs.

Take a look at your web visitor data over the past 90 days. If you don’t know who’s visiting, it might be time to consider a marketing automation tool that can help you log specific visitors and tie their needs to your services. If you do know who your visitors are, develop a lead flow strategy for using your customer relationship management tools to pinpoint them, then contact and pitch to them.

Customer Relationship Management Strategy

For instance, does a potential client continue to hover around price points for a certain service you provide? If so, it makes sense to call that person or email them with a special promotional deal. Does a specific client keep coming back to your website to look over terms of service or specific offering points on a package? If that’s the case you might experience future problems from that customer or need to answer a question.  A simple call to check in might remedy a complaint that’s about to surface.

With marketing automation tools, you can better manage the relationships you have with current customers and put systems in place to give them better service. For more information and to take advantage of what marketing automation has to offer for your customers, visit leadliaison.com.

Integrating a Marketing Automation Platform with Your CRM

Integrating a Marketing Automation Platform With Your CRMAn interesting interview published in eMarketer came across our desks recently about integrating a marketing automation platform with your CRM. The subject was Kevin Quiring, managing director of sales and customer service at Accenture. It caused us to reflect on a few points Mr. Quiring made during the interview.

“Businesses are placing renewed emphasis on generating new business… either through acquiring new customers or growing existing customers.” Lead management is a critical part of that effort because companies are competing for fewer real dollars as the U.S. continues to stumble out of the recession. Brands need to know their customers well and target suspects effectively. They also need to nurture leads towards a sales engagement. Thirdly, they need to be able to analyze individual pathways to conversion and global trends in organic search. Integrating marketing automation and CRM platforms can do all that.

“There is a chasm between marketing and sales. The two aren’t working together.” The integration of a marketing platform with a CRM platform brings the two teams together. It starts with lead scoring, which provides qualitative and quantitative metrics that indicate how ready a lead is for sales engagement and how close a lead is to conversion. One benefit: system synchronization transfers marketing scores to sales pipeline rankings so sales reps know how hot leads are when they enter the CRM.

Sales and marketing need to work together to establish lead scoring parameters. This way, scoring parameters and benchmarks are defined with a common understanding and accountability structure connected to lead management. Also, the lead distribution capabilities of a full-service MA platform assign ownership from first touch to last touch. Sales reps are connected with a lead at a deeper level as they progress through the qualification and nurturing processes.

“Trying to close a deal when prospects have the potential to be interested in so many diverse products requires multiple sets of activity.” A primary benefit of MA and CRM integration is to have the ability to seamlessly cross-sell through multiple channels. Companies with myriad product lines can serve multiple buyer chains within a single interface. Sharper analytics from integrated platforms allow product managers to understand their markets better. Sales managers can forecast more clearly with data collected through the integrated systems.

“They’re finding the salesperson’s intuition and the marketer’s opinion on what lead will be good or bad is interesting—but not predictive.” Companies are able to analyze both the attributes and online behavior patterns of their markets through analytics provided by both platforms. A customer persona can then be built that accurately reflects statistically significant characteristics. Instead of relying on intuition an opinion, executives have hard data to shape decisions around.

We appreciate that Mr. Quiring sees the value in marketing automation and CRM integration. If you’d like to find out how our Lead Management Automation™ platform integrates with CRMs like SFDC, request a 10-minute free personal demonstration.

Convergence of PRM and Marketing Automation Facilitates Superior Marketing Alignment

Partner Relationship Management and Marketing AutomationOne in every five B2B organizations use a marketing automation platform (MAP), and the present trend indicates that it will grow to 40% by 2016, according to B2B research and advisory agency SiriusDecisions. Organizations are increasingly integrating marketing automation with their CRM databases and Partner Relationship Management (PRM) strategy to facilitate efficient lead nurturing and achieve the most favorable sales potential. This three-way alignment optimizes stand-alone solutions and multiplies sales capabilities of the organizations, creating marketing alignment.

The Case for Marketing Automation Platform-CRM-PRM Integration for Superior Marketing Alignment

The prospect of efficient business processes and enhanced benefits has made marketing automation a key attraction for businesses. Organizations operate in a complex ecosystem that demands attention to a variety of factors. It has become increasingly difficult to track and report marketing progress and sales opportunities across partner networks while managing campaigns and opportunities. Many fall upon PRM solutions to maintain and boost partner-vendor relationship and ensure superior coordination among different channel players.

The PRM is aligned with the CRM, holding customer database and marketing automation tools for better visibility and tracking of performance of partners, co-ops, and other assets. While the former focuses on customer lifecycle management, PRM solutions take care of reporting and analytics suitable for partner lifecycle management. Marketing automation integrated with the two enables businesses to integrate records and track and monitor typical sales opportunities created in a partner network and specific interested customers.

Vendors and manufacturers can also set up on-demand services through marketing automation using social media, telemarketing, and email. By integrating PRM and CRM with marketing automation platforms, businesses can offer instant portal access and training courses in their chosen language and medium. A big plus is that partner branding can be aligned with marketing resources and increased ability to monitor and manage leads and campaigns.

There is no need to employ multichannel strategies, tools, and resources for deal registration and management of opportunities. Often channel managers run helter-skelter as they work with manual systems and spreadsheets to deal with partners and customers. Marketing automation facilitates use of same system by brand owners and partners, reducing time and gap in interaction. With vendors rolling out campaigns and leads in no time to partners using the vertical-sharing system, both can work side by side, enhancing coordination and cooperation.

PRM-Marketing Integration: Summary of Benefits

Integration of PRM with marketing automation offers three important benefits.

1. It helps in automatic lead distribution to partners without any coordination issue.

2. It helps bridge the gap between a business and its partners. All solutions are immediately available to partners. They can interact, learn, receive training, and lead sales efforts without overburdening the business.

3. It is easy to monitor and manage a campaign and activity on leads and holistically measure direct and indirect sales benefits to partners using the marketing automation platform.

With increased availability of SaaS solutions, there is no major technical obstacle that impedes PRM-marketing automation integration. Many consider budget and disconnect issues caused by failure of the system as key hindrances. However, the benefits of aligning the two outweigh the concerns. No doubt PRM can be a stand-alone solution, but when integrated with marketing automation, its compatibilities multiply, assuring better lead development and campaign execution.

The Quintessential Small Business Marketing System

Quintessential Small Business Marketing SystemMost micro and small businesses have two things in common; they lack resources and need to grow revenue. In this article we help B2B business with minimal resources understand the building blocks of a small business marketing system necessary to grow revenue.

A quintessential small business marketing system is made of three components – CRM, inbound marketing and revenue generation software. All three components are cost effective as they run in the “cloud” – meaning they’re accessible through any web browser, based off-premise/off-site and have little to no maintenance costs.

Small Business Marketing System

Components of a Small Business Marketing System

First, the core of a small business marketing system is a CRM solution. Lead Liaison uses Salesforce.com as our database of record. It’s an affordable way to help us track accounts (partners, customers, and vendors), leads, contacts and opportunities. Salesforce.com enables our business to stay organized, monitor activity and plan for growth. It’s a nice data repository but unfortunately lacks operational solutions to satisfy our sales and marketing demands – revenue generation software fills this void.

Second, create a marketing presence with at no cost – except for sweat equity. Small businesses need to get noticed without pumping in hundreds of thousands of dollars in outbound marketing campaigns. That means a paradigm shift in how marketing is typically done. It means foregoing trade shows, direct mail and email blasts. Instead, have an inbound marketing strategy to attract interested prospects. But don’t be confused, inbound marketing is very different from outbound marketing. Inbound marketing means developing content and strategy to get found on the internet whereas outbound marketing is very targeted directly towards contacts or individuals. Effectively, inbound marketing is like building a spider web for your business. Develop an inbound marketing strategy by having a consistent presence in social media, blogging and SEO. Create “miniature webs” to catch interested prospects that inevitably end up on your website. To do this, spin up numerous landing pages and web forms on your website – once again, revenue generation software fills this void.

Third, bring in revenue generation software to complement your CRM and capitalize on results of your inbound marketing efforts. Revenue generation software helps businesses overcome resource challenges by automating a number of common sales and marketing tasks. It helps businesses build relationships by creating relevant and timely conversations with prospects and customers, nurturing them through the sales cycle, generating leads and serves as the foundation for your marketing campaigns. It’s the engine of a small business marketing system.

All three ingredients, CRM, inbound marketing and revenue generation software work together to form a cohesive small business marketing system. Content used for inbound marketing can be leveraged and repurposed with revenue generation software while revenue generation software enriches CRM with useful lead qualification criteria.

We’ll gladly help your company build a small business marketing system by coaching you through the process and providing you with best-in-breed revenue generation software. Let us know if we can help!

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Marketing Automation in CRM

Marketing Automation in CRMAdding marketing automation in CRM will help your sales team be more efficient. In today’s information age, it’s not about how much information you receive, rather, it’s about how you receive the information. Most CRMs cobble together leads and contacts into a few buckets, offering no way to separate hot leads from cold leads. Without a systematic way to prioritize leads, opportunities get lost in the shuffle, important opportunities get buried in the database and important leads are masked as yet another database record. Businesses finally have a way of differentiating their leads and optimizing sales people’s time with marketing automation in CRM.

Lead Qualification in Your CRM

Most solutions offer a host of additional marketing automation features in CRM. Adding leads/contacts to a lead nurturing campaign, sending an email campaign and customized dashboards are a few examples. One key area of integration is lead qualification. With marketing automation in CRM, vital lead qualification criteria is extracted from the marketing automation system and injected into the CRM to streamline access to high priority leads.

Various industry methods exist to prioritize leads. Lead scoring, buy signals and total activity are just a few examples. When CRM records are enriched with lead qualification criteria sales people can easily plan their day by running prebuilt dashboards and reports to expose highly qualified leads. The best part about these processes is the automation. It’s a set-it-and-forget-it model. With marketing automation in CRM, data is bi-directionally shared between both systems in real-time (usually every 5 minutes). Changes to data in one system are automatically updated in the other. With both systems in harmony, sales people only need to access marketing automation data in their CRM – simplifying the number of tools required to do their job.

Adding marketing automation in CRM is near effortless. Most CRMs, such as Salesforce.com, offer some type of marketplace for apps. For example, Salesforce.com’s marketplace is AppExchange. Installing Lead Liaison’s marketing automation in Salesforce.com can be done in less than 10 minutes. Configuration usually takes an additional 15-30 minutes.

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