The fundamental friction between sales and marketing is alive and well: A new study of senior marketing executives by the CMO Council issued marketing failing grades in a number of areas related to customer information systems and the delivery of real-time, account-specific insights that could boost sales performance, value, and productivity.
“Is marketing a sales-enabler, and are we providing the right information and insights to our front line to make sure we are advancing business and enabling that sale? The answer is we’re not,” said Liz Miller, vice president of marketing for the council, in an interview with CMO.com.
The council surveyed marketers at enterprises of all sizes in Q2 and Q3 and found an overwhelming 79 percent were not satisfied with the current levels of closure and conversion of customer opportunities. Only 9 percent said their organizations have customer intelligence or CRM systems that deliver real-time, account-based news, social insights, customer developments, and market shifts to the sales organization. And 63 percent admit that customer intelligence systems do not automatically notify sales or support teams about developments within their customers’ markets or with a company’s operations, according to the study, “Know More to Grow More.”
Along with the report, the council released its Customer Sales Intelligence Scorecard (PDF), which gave marketers failing grades in real-time delivery of sales intelligence and breaking news; front-line access to the right level of customer intelligence; customer data accuracy, depth, and reliability; and remote, mobile user interface to customer data.
“From everything we’ve seen from the scorecard, marketing knows there are these disconnects and also a very human time constraint on sales and support,” Miller said. “These guys don’t have time to constantly be researching and identifying information and … currently we are not providing real-time alerts about news and market shifts.”
But the findings weren’t all negative: Marketers are doing a good job aggregating account-based information and social insights about customers and the marketplace, and using them to optimize marketing campaigns.
“The good news for marketing is we are optimizing the heck out of our campaigns and making sure the marketing piece of the puzzle is very effective,” Miller said. However, marketers are failing in those particular areas “because we’re not connecting the insights we’re leveraging to make our campaigns and issues better and arming our front line, who are directly engaging our customers, with that same level of intelligence. We’re being a little bit greedy.”
CRM, data, and social analytics systems can aggregate all types of unstructured data to let marketers and sales people know about timely conversations happening on social media sites, she said. They can alert sales when a customer is talking about issues, contemplating a purchase, or even changing jobs. These systems can also alert marketers about news in their industry all the way down to demand-based data, such as how often a specific account hits their Web sites, Miller said. And they can help sales and marketing capitalize on moments of opportunity when a comment becomes a sale.
“Those technologies exist, and that vision of the future exists, and it doesn’t require you breaking down your systems and rebuilding,’’ she said. “What the scorecard highlights is that this real-time data and intelligence is not being delivered to sales, but also that the systems that should be delivering this data don’t actually connect all the way through to the front line of the organization—including sales and support and service.”
That means even if marketing is funneling intelligence into sales, the information is not getting through to service and support people who are usually the first ones customers reach out to with questions or problems. Indeed, 65 percent of respondents said the front line does not have access to social media intelligence to leverage in personalized, direct outreach, according to the report. Personalization of interactions is only happening at the marketing campaign level, with e-mail, direct mail, Web, and social media engagements.
The challenge marketing has is figuring out how to prioritize and elevate its ability to provide this type of intelligence, Miller said. “We have fought a very hard battle to become more measurable and directed and relevant in how we deploy our marketing campaigns, and this study affirms we have put lot of work into that process, but now we have to prioritize this front-line enablement with intelligence,” she said.
The most surprising finding for Miller was how “depressing” the scorecard results were. “CRM is not new,” she said. “The fact that so many of us had such low confidence in how we were able to close business was a surprise. The fact that teams aren’t connected, the fact that we’re still relying on individual salespeople to update and contribute to customer intelligence [systems], was surprising.”
Marketers have their work cut out for them, some of which can be done quickly. “Look into those third-party news sources that can quickly be added into your systems,” Miller advised. “You think it can’t be done and it will take some strategy, but marketing can reclaim its role as lead sales enabler.”