CPQ Essentials: CRM Integration and Marketing Automation
The keystone that supports the integration of Marketing and Sales into a continuous operational process is technology. Technology speeds up processes, reduces errors and makes it easier to turn new hires into productive team members faster. The challenge is making technology useful and supportive of the individual processes it assists and at the same time, promoting, enabling and working with technologies that serve other functional units within the enterprise.
You can have the best CRM system in the industry, fully loaded with all the whistles and bells, and it will be nearly useless if it doesn’t work with your selected mobile platform. You may have the most current and feature-rich marketing automation system going, but how useful is it if it doesn’t interface with your CRM?
Let’s review some of the key technologies available for manufacturing, marketing and selling products and see how they can serve their immediate end-users and also increase their overall effectiveness by working beyond their functional silos.
Marketing creates all types of content related to products, usage of products and customer-centric materials that educate or interest people and companies within your market. Marketing also tracks and maintains data related to who is accessing what content. This information is used to build buyer profiles and visitor records that are aimed at identifying potential opportunities.
Information (data) is passed back and forth between your website, CRM and your marketing technology to connect the high-level messaging with the actionable lead data needed by Sales.
When combined with data in the CRM, system-specific opportunities can be identified and passed along to Sales. Additionally, campaigns can be customized to specific market segments and sub-segments that closely match offers and engagement opportunities.
Inbound campaigns and guided selling requires that specific content be matched to specific prospects that are associated with attributes that define their qualification into a campaign or individual outreach. This can’t happen with any single system; it requires an integrated approach.
This can only be accomplished with an effective integration of CRM, website tracking and marketing-automation technologies.
CRM is much more than a contact file for your sales force. Your CRM system should be populated with data about prospects and customers within your market space. That data should include contact names, industrial codes, company size, locations, job titles, contact data and other sortable, searchable criteria.
CRM should be the data backbone of your prospecting systems. The records (accessible and updatable) within CRM should not be “duplicates” of data in other systems; they should be the same data. Standardization of naming protocols, state and city abbreviations and other data maintenance practices should eliminate the need for multiple databases and provide a single, clean and current information resource.
The CRM integration should include all of the other customer information systems, and marketing systems and back-office systems should utilize this data.
CPQ is the system that maintains all of the product information necessary for your sales team to configure, price and sell your solutions to customers. Additionally, CPQ can supply raw data to your marketing-automation systems relating to how your products are used, what product options are of interest to what prospects and what limitations in your offering are costing you potential business.
CPQ depends on good customer and prospect data supplied via CRM and an effective CRM integration. It depends on pricing data supplied by other back-office financial systems as well as inputs from the sales rep and the prospect to help pull together the assorted parts and assemblies into a configured model and a complete bill of material. That data drives an accurate roll-up of pricing and also feeds the proposal generation facility all of the information it needs to finish a complete proposal.
Of course, it doesn’t stop with these specific systems. Other systems are supplied data and supply data to the process. These systems must work with each other in order to ensure that they are delivering maximum value to the operation.
ERP, HR, supply chain management, product design systems and logistics all are vital to bringing products to market and selling them to the end-user to fulfill and satisfy real needs and requirements.
Getting it done
Bringing all of these systems together into one harmonious operation is not going to happen without some participation by IT. Individual departments will push for the autonomy to select the tools and systems of choice, but IT should be tasked with assuring some level of compatibility or adaptability between the disparate systems before their deployment is authorized.
Facilitating the integration and certainly coordinating the ongoing support and maintenance of these systems requires active IT participation.
Together, these systems can accomplish many wonderful things for the enterprise. By themselves, they may offer some convenience or useful capability to their primary end-users. Compatibility and integration is the key to turning Sales and Marketing into a seamless process.