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Data can build a bridge between sales and marketing: Here’s how we did it

“We have these sales projects and then we have these marketing development initiatives.” Have you heard this phrase before? Sadly, marketing and sales still live in their separate silos in many companies. But what happens when you demolish the silos and revamp your systems to serve the needs of both organisations – based on shared business goals? 

Sales manager in March: “Our target for next autumn will be to develop our CRM. We need to update our opportunity management in order to focus our sales better on the customer’s purchasing moment. We have a sales development consultant coming in to coach us in the best timing for sales communication, and we also signed a new contract with our cold calling partner.”

Marketing manager in March: “The main focus for the rest of the spring will be to bring our new marketing automation tool onboard. Yeah, we also have the integration with CRM coming up at some point, but it’s second in priority since we first have to go live with these nurturing flows and conversion points. We also need to figure out how the integration will work, since our CRM and MA platforms are from different providers.”

Does this sound familiar? It is amazing how often sales and marketing are still operating in their own silos. Sales meetings are populated by sales managers, and marketing is planned without sales. Salespeople may have access to the marketing automation system to “grab some leads”. Marketing is expected to update customer information into the CRM, usually e-mail addresses and phone numbers. At some earlier time, the sales organisation built the CRM system without giving thought to the segmenting information and purchase history data that are crucial to marketing. The end result is that potential customers fall into a black hole between two separate systems and functions.

This pretty much sums up how we were still working a little more than a year ago. Yep, we were definitely deep in our silos!

Sofigate’s ambitious growth targets made us understand the need to revamp the core of our own business: our solutions for marketing, sales and enterprise resource planning were not up to date. However, this journey of change was not an “IT project” but, above all, an agile overhaul of our business and operating models.

Fewer artificial borders, more transparency and real-time visibility

Over the years, our thinking had settled on the assumption that CRM was a system for salespeople. As soon as we focused more heavily on utilizing data, we noticed how detrimental it was to set up these kinds of borders.

Now that we have high-quality data streaming in real time through our entire organisation, we can see how badly we need it. In order to provide value for the customer at every step of their buying path, we need transparency and instant visibility. Customer needs change rapidly in today’s world, and it’s essential that the right person answers them at the right moment.

Data brings together marketing automation, CRM and enterprise resource planning. Thanks to this, we can serve customers all the way from early interest to a high-quality delivery and invoicing. In this world, marketing and sales do not only use data but also provide it, which is critically important for the whole company.

Data quality improves only by using data

As we write this, we have taken a huge leap in developing our sales and marketing operations. We have noticed the most concrete changes in the quality of the data we use to lead and develop our sales and marketing. As a result, we also understand our customers better.

When information on customer behaviour, marketing activities and their reactions, sales meetings, tenders and customer communication is all integrated into a single platform, we can say our operations are both efficient and effective.

There is only one way to improve the quality of your data: you need to use it in your decision making. Bad decisions based on bad data may sting, but it is surprisingly easy to fix the errors in the data once you run into them.

The secret to growth is knowing how to use your data

We could not call ourselves a business technology company in good conscience if we did not have well-performing, industry-leading technology at the core of our own transformation. This is why we chose Salesforce and Pardot as our solutions.

However, even more important is changing how we work and operate as people. No state-of-the-art system will help your business grow if you don’t know how to use it and take advantage of the data it provides. Therefore, one of the major takeaways from our own transformation has been the importance of training people and having a systematic, shared way of using our chosen technologies.