Is your CRM circus full of uncooperative elephants?

CRM and MA

CRM and marketing automation mean that teams are more connected than ever before, but many systems are still plagued by lack of user adoption.

Gone are the days when contact management and CRM were sales-only tools. Also gone is time when CRM was deployed to functional business silos, as this has been replaced with a business-wide approach. Sales and marketing are more connected than ever, sharing the same data and insight to maximise opportunities and nurture prospects.

Key to this development has been the introduction of marketing automation (MA), which provides marketers with the ability to filter customer and prospect data for targeted activity. Furthermore, it has developed to include complex nurturing workflows, defining a customer journey from first point of contact through to becoming an actionable lead.

Sounds perfect, doesn’t it? Sales and marketing able to work together, using various aspects of the same technology to achieve the preferred business outcome.

For CRM and MA, connected data has always been an issue

Until recently, CRM and MA tools have only loosely integrated. Vendor solutions relied upon a sync connector to maintain data between two very separate systems. This, of course, created many challenges with data integrity, and the syncs often only worked with preferred systems – usually that of the parent CRM vendor of the MA tool.

Thankfully this situation has greatly improved, and many standalone MA tools are now even offering CRM as a component to their platform offering.

The elephant in the big top – user adoption

So, your CRM and MA can help you to be the ringmaster of all your contact data. The elephant in the room, or the big top if you like, is that you can explain how each circus act will work but it will only wow the crowds if your acts get into the ring and perform. If you want to fly high like the trapeze artists, rather than end up with pie in your face like the clowns, then you need to sort user adoption.

User adoption of any CRM application has always been the biggest reason for project failure and database nightmares. Forrester Research and others have long estimated that CRM adoption failure rates are circa 70 percent, with an average of 25 percent of company data being incomplete or made up of duplicate records.

This shows why the adage that your CRM is only as good as the people using it still holds sway in the CRM marketplace. Marketing automation exacerbates this problem, with many more processes, all integrating with your valuable data and being updated automatically and manually. Some of this automation has advantages as MA, if configured correctly, will update your customer and prospect records with the latest touchpoint information. Indeed, that is the main purpose of the nurture flow aspect of MA tools.

Changing the business mindset

So, the modern CRM and MA issue of adoption is less about user update of the system and more to do with business-wide adoption of the ethos and approach the system offers. Changing the business mindset from one of departmental systems to once of business-wide process definition and adoption is the only way such technology can truly earn its keep.

Even such a utopian view does not come without its own set of challenges however. Once the selected system/s are in place the focus on manual update of records must switch to feeding the MA portion of your sales and marketing machine. Without consistent, high-quality marketing output to trigger your MA processes and workflows, the whole setup will stutter and eventually grind to a halt.

So what can we glean from all this? There is no doubt that CRM has come a long way from the early days of contact management and that, combined with other technologies such as MA, it now offers business the opportunity to automate its way out of many of the early adoption issues. It is also certain, however, that the new order of CRM and MA presents sales and marketing professionals with the ability to become ringmaster of every contact made with their organisation. Roll up! Roll up! Here’s the chance to delight your customers and give them the experience they are looking for.