“The sales department is not the entire company, but the entire company better be the sales department.”
– Philip Kotler
Twenty-seven years ago this statement was coined by a man who has since become known as the “Father of Modern Marketing.” Kotler was right: Revenue performance is directly tied to the success of sales. But what’s more profound is that he also made a prediction. Today, the impact of sales is even more impressive when the entire company is aligned to help the sales team achieve their goals.
Yet, it took time for his prediction to come true.
The sales-driven business model dominated business processes at that time. And it worked in our favor. It was sales that dictated what customers should buy; it was traditional sales. Knock on the door and sell an encyclopedia. Sit across the business owner, and pitch him the ‘best’ printer.
What came next?
Traces of marketing came into light. Basic offline tactics like direct mailings, cold calling, and telemarketing all became part of outbound marketing activities.Years later we witnessed forward-thinking companies going beyond offline channels. They have adopted inbound marketing campaigns like pulling in customers to their websites. Newsletters have become a popular means to share industry knowledge and company information. All these work to create brand awareness and reputation, but could we do better?
This is when we arrived at the tipping point of Kotler’s vision: Marketing Automation (MA).
“…but the entire company better be the sales department.”
In its infantile stage, MA introduced the process of engaging with customers on their terms – not Sales’. It allowed for a deeper level of customization by giving businesses insight into the habits and desires of customers. CMOs took full ownership of marketing activities and incorporated lead nurturing and lead scoring to the mix — and then sent nurtured leads to Sales. They came to the rescue as Kotler predicted.
However, at this stage, even when marketing and sales finally joined forces, there came an uphill battle.
Marketing began to gather data on customer behavior, but at this stage, sales and marketing were operating in a silo. There were no clear definitions of what each sales cycle stage meant. When does a lead become marketing-ready? When is it hot enough to be sent to Sales? Without common definitions of what each sales funnel stage meant, it became impossible to move a lead down the pipeline and to a close.
When a marketing team is at its infantile stage, it becomes hard to derive strategies that supported sales growth. Marketing is operating on guesswork – not science. Rob Peterson found that while business leaders make ROI measurement their top priority, 39% of CMOs say that their own data collection efforts are too infrequent to be useful.39% of CMOs say that their own data collection efforts are too infrequent to be useful. Click To Tweet
The question became: Is our content and messaging engaging our customers?
With weak analytics and data that’s needed to measure marketing effectiveness, it became hard for Marketing to deliver the best leads to Sales. There were leaks in data transfers and no measurement on ROIs for campaigns as Marketing and Sales operated in a silo. Customer behavior may have been available, but because Marketing and Sales weren’t aligned, there was no seamless transition of leads from one department to the other. Moreover, messaging was inconsistent as sales reps became unable to figure out if the right message was delivered to the right customer, at the right time.
The modern era of MA
Sales and Marketing are becoming aligned more and more. The integration of Sales and Marketing efforts has allowed insight into what works and what doesn’t. With help from one another, campaigns range from email marketing, mobile marketing and social media. Identifying competitive strategies and having access to customer touch points gives business owners the leverage they need to improve campaign effectiveness and optimization, and use better predictive analytics on customer behavior.
Segmenting leads becomes a fundamental strategy to target customers in different sales funnel stages. It leads to intelligent forecasting, rigorous marketing performance measurement, and consistent execution of best practices.
With MA, the customer becomes better informed and better equipped to make a buying decision.
So, is Kotler’s vision fully accomplished?
“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”
This classic Star Trek quote shines some light on how customers today can be segmented by the nature of their ongoing needs. Martin Dixon, in the Harvard Business Review, found that 84% of customers received services that didn’t meet their expectations. And when customer needs aren’t met, they don’t complain; they simply move on.
Collecting data that enables services departments to effectively navigate through evolving issues in the shortest amount of time is a core strategy that works to boost customer retention. Categorizing customers by the nature of their issues enables service departments to get to the high-visibility customers quickly. Ensuring preferred customers are prioritized using Smart Views of all unresolved issues makes them feel like a priority. And who doesn’t like to feel special?
Rich historical performance data helps to establish proper workflows for managing known problems quicker. Tickets that aren’t resolved in expected times can be solved by triggering campaigns using Service Letter Agreements (SLA). To simplify even further, making recommendations to customers using pre-formatted responses eliminates the repetitive, tedious tasks of resolving common issues. This way you can spend time focusing on tasks that are a higher priority.
Agile CRM provides the first ever-unified platform to align your Sales, Marketing and Services initiatives. Small businesses can manage their growing customer base with a small team without putting their costs or reputation at risk.
Aligning these three divisions of your business closes the loop in your customer acquisition and management goals. The Agile CRM platform helps Sales and Marketing in acquiring more customers, while aligning Customer Services with the platform transforms your company into the proverbial sales team that Kotler predicted.
Is the loyalty of your customers just as important to you as successfully winning them? Is your entire organization aligned to become the best-equipped sales team? The unified Agile CRM platform is the solution not only for addressing your present needs for Marketing and Sales alignment, but also to align Services as part of your growth strategy. Is your company ready to become a mature Sales organization? Agile CRM can get you there.