CRM marketing automation integrationOn the surface, CRM marketing automation integration seems like an easy win.

What’s not to like about sharing data between sales and marketing? Marketing can use sales outcomes to make better investments, while sales can use prospect data to perfect their pitches.

…and they all live happily ever after, right?

Of course, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Your CRM-MA (marketing automation) integration will involve major system shifts and a multitude of misaligned stakeholders. In my years of overseeing these projects, I have witnessed plenty of change management challenges.

In my experience, there are a few things every company must have in place for the integration to work:

  • Technical configuration that considers each stakeholder’s needs and projected use of the integrated platforms. To get this right, every team that comes into contact with your integration should have a seat at the table.
  • Shared goals that relate back to revenue. Yes, that means everyone needs to agree on a definition of a “lead.” The goal here should be to track sales from first touch to final transaction. If teams are too focused on defending their corner of the sales and marketing funnel, they’ll miss the big picture.
  • A comprehensive, documented rollout that motivates current staff to use the system and allows future hires to get on board quickly.
  • Regular communication that allows everyone to continually use the integrated system to its full capacity, even when faced with turnover, management shifts, and marketing strategy changes.

Even though these goals might seem lofty, there are some very practical ways that your company can make this happen. Here are my top 4 tips for a seamless integration that works over the long-term.

1) Get your teams on board with the goals, not just the tech.

Imagine the scene: A stranger walks into a boardroom filled with salespeople. After introducing themselves as the CMO, the stranger proceeds to enter into a jargon-filled speech about how sales’ most used tool, the CRM, is going to change. They dictate that sales staff need to “get better at entering sales data” to help marketing “drive leads.” They don’t specify what kind of leads, leaving the audience skeptical and disengaged. After a quick tutorial about the changes to their CRM, the presentation is over.

This message is uninspiring at best. To make matters worse, sales soon finds that their faithful CRM is acting differently. Marketing is breathing down their necks, but no additional leads seem to be coming. It’s not a good scene, and they quickly become disillusioned with the CRM altogether.

Here’s a better alternative:

A CMO walks into a boardroom filled with salespeople. The CMO is a familiar face to the audience; a few weeks ago, they conducted a company-wide Q & A about improving lead quality and asked for feedback on the sales funnel. The CMO starts by referencing sales’ input, explaining how marketing is listening to them and wants to drive higher quality leads and provide better prospect data. They emphasize the importance of understanding how leads move through sales so they can align their marketing efforts with bottom line goals. They explain how sharing engagement and additional profile data can help the salespeople close more leads by having additional information on a lead before calling them.

Then, and only then, do they introduce the CRM marketing automation integration.

The shift here is simple but powerful. When sales teams are on board with the goals behind the integration, they are much more likely to accept the new project. Each team impacted by the integration should feel that the change is being done with them, not to them. This can be done by communicating with sales before the announcement, keeping salespeople involved in the process, and referencing their interests and feedback wherever possible.

2) Hire a dedicated person to align sales and marketing systems.

Okay, so we know it’s important to bring sales and marketing stakeholders to the table. But once they’re sitting across from one another, who is going to referee the interactions between the two? Who is going to make sure that all revenue-driving teams feel heard, and that your CRM integration reflects priorities on both sides?

An increasing number of companies are creating a new role in their organizations to monitor the alignment between sales and marketing systems. This person, often called the “Marketing Operations Strategist” or “Marketing Technologist” enables collaboration by making sure goals, tools, and processes are aligned and optimized. They oversee the whole funnel and act as a go-between for marketing and sales.

Having someone internal who can carry this responsibility can greatly help to maintain sales and marketing alignment. Professional CRM system integrators, like the MarTech team at MASS Engines, can help you to develop and support such a role. We can also act as a stand-in “Marketing Technologist” for organizations that do not yet have this role in-house.

3) Document, document, document – but don’t make it dense.

For an integrated sales and marketing system to flourish, a solid training system and long-term engagement are key. That means you not only need to keep detailed notes about the decisions you make, but you need to make those decisions easy to access and consume. This way, future employees can carry on the system you worked so hard to develop.

The good news is that you probably have people who can make this happen right now. Marketing departments know exactly how to engage people with dazzling educational videos, eye-catching email sequences, and thoughtful sales check-ins. Why not use your creativity and communications know-how to get people excited about your revenue-driving system?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Substitute the text-heavy powerpoint for a few engaging whiteboard training videos. These are not only more entertaining, but they tend to have a longer “shelf-life” than a convoluted deck that requires a presenter.
  • Build a live, searchable “how to” manual that constantly updates as decisions are made. Organize this document by topic rather than meeting date, so people can easily find the information they’re seeking.
  • Use your marketing automation technology to send monthly emails with updates to staff. Make the emails engaging by sharing wins and giving credit for ideas to different team members.
  • Develop “hands on” training modules, adding new information regularly so they are up-to-date.

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4) Have a responsive entity and process for glitches and issues.

Even if you do your best to set up the perfect integration, something can still go wrong. For example, a common mistake is allowing marketing automation data to overwrite hand-typed CRM notes. This causes sales to lose valuable information about important clients, which is bad news for anyone on revenue teams.

Yes, the best case scenario is for something like this to not happen at all. There are certainly ways to avoid the issue I explained above; at MASS, we recommend segmenting sales and marketing data in your CRM so manually entered information is not lost.

When issues like this arise, you need to know STAT. Technical glitches in these cases can mean lost sales, so you need to treat them seriously and make sure grievances don’t go unaddressed.

Here are a few ways other companies make this happen:

  • Have representatives from each sales and marketing team on the committee managing the CRM integration project. Make sure stakeholders know who their representative is so they can raise questions in the office.
  • Don’t fold the committee after the initial integration is complete – ongoing engagement is a must for your sales and marketing systems to succeed in the long term.
  • Ask Marketing Operations to chair the committee and take ownership of this integration. This give MarkOps the clear go-ahead to refine and clear up glitches in sales and marketing systems. Their leadership of the committee also gives them a venue to touch base with stakeholders about how things are going and what can be improved.
  • Along with committee touch-bases, host regular open-door meetings about sales and marketing systems. Let stakeholders ask questions and recommend improvements; you may be surprised with what they come up with!
  • Create a central email address (such as where people can send feedback and glitches.

Why CRM Marketing Automation Integration is the Key to Sales and Marketing Success

When it comes to measuring ROI and driving revenue, the ultimate goal is to connect the first marketing touch to the final sale. An increasingly digital buyer journey is making this reality for organizations. Still, the ability to properly track this buyer journey is highly dependent on sales and marketing alignment. This means getting systems and stakeholders to work together to understand the whole funnel.

For this reason, it’s critical to take change management approach when integrating your CRM with your marketing automation platform.

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