Let’s start here:
There is no marketing and sales journey. There is only the customer journey.
Your prospect doesn’t care about the funnel. They certainly don’t care about what stage of it they’re in.
All they care about is that they have access to the right information, in the right format, at the right time so that they can make the right choice for their business.
It’s because of this that I believe all B2B organisations should seriously rethink how they structure their commercial function (and I wrote about it here) to better serve the reality of how a buyer actually buys.
But at a minimum, a company should insist their marketing and sales team share the same CRM.
Main reason – it helps to create a consolidated view of the customer. Each team will only see one side of their story – their own – if there isn’t a centralised toolkit tracking all contact activity across marketing and sales channels. This makes it difficult to map the buyer’s journey, understand what motivates the buyer at each stage and develop a cohesive commercial strategy accordingly.
Everyone should be working towards the same North Star revenue metric and understand exactly how far they need to go at all times. Yet many marketers I speak to have almost no visibility on pipeline beyond what they squeeze out of offhand conversations with their sales colleagues between Zoom colleagues. Having a shared CRM that includes financials keeps everyone focused on the main objective.
You can coordinate outreach far more effectively when you understand who the customer is and what’s driving their behaviour. It’s a bad experience when a prospect is getting bombarded with cold outreach when they’re not ready to buy – but that doesn’t mean sales can’t be developing a relationship with them through targeted thought leadership. One shared CRM allows both functions to decide the right campaign to reach each individual.
I hate admin and will avoid it at any given opportunity. Yet B2B companies worldwide seem content with requiring dozens of their well-paid employees to manually input data or type up generic reports or inform colleagues via email something has happened that requires their attention – all activities that can and should be automated. Many CRMs out there (think Hubspot) allow teams to set up simple workflows to free up their time to focus on what’s important – generating demand and closing deals.
It keeps everyone on message. The quality of the opportunities that fill your pipeline is only as good as the messaging that has been used to acquire them. Everyone has to be singing from the same songbook on why your company is best placed to solve the specific problem your target customer has – which is why many modern-day CRMs now allow for the storing of templates and playbooks to ensure the story is told the same way at all levels.
Ironclad attribution is the white whale of every B2B marketer. We spend our careers searching for it and yet it always seems to just evade our grasp. But we can get awfully close – if we share a common infrastructure with our colleagues across the aisle. When everyone has visibility on individual contact activity – from awareness to closed-won – it’s easier to understand contribution. But if marketing can only see the top half – and sales the bottom – then don’t be surprised when each camp cries “it was because of me!”
It keeps data in one place. I once worked for a company where a sales rep spent 3 days trawling through the inbox of a former colleague who had left on bad terms to understand where he’d left each business development opportunity. What a waste of time. As a growing business, you need to understand customer interactions and make informed decisions quickly. This is impossible when updates are kept on sticky notes.
If you don’t have an operations layer and specific IT support, you really can’t afford to be using a Frankstein tech stack loosely tied together by Zapier. Who’s going to fix things if an integration fails and the whole thing falls over? Who’s going to cleanse data sets that are similar but not quite the same? I’m not saying that a single tool can solve every logistical challenge, but it does make things a damn sight easier.
Finally… it’s just good business practice. Why spend extra budget and resources maintaining and training teams on two tools when one will do the trick?
So there are nine reasons why a shared CRM makes sense for your business. But don’t be fooled – infrastructure on its own isn’t a silver bullet for success. It needs to be backed up by process and governance around how the tools should be used, maintained and updated to truly maximise their value.
Something in your company is broken if sales and marketing cannot access the same information about how prospective clients are interacting with the brand. Implementing a shared CRM – and the appropriate processes and governance around its use – is one of the first steps to developing a modern-day B2B revenue strategy.