Traditional CRM turns sales reps into administrators
In my blog – CRM can stunt your growth, I sought to explain why traditional CRM applications are ineffective and, worse, almost guarantee siloed thinking. Like the Emperor’s new clothes, they give sales managers an illusion of control. Speak to a sales rep, and the reaction is often one of horror if not mirth. The top sellers succeed despite the CRM system inflicted on them. Instead of spending time with prospects and customers, up to two days, a week are spent feeding the CRM monster with updates, greatly reducing their productivity.
It’s dispiriting and demotivating.
To make matters worse, there is a tendency for finger-pointing. Sales point the finger at the marketing department, clogging up the inbox with dubious leads draining confidence in the value of marketing. Marketers point the finger at sales for failing to follow up leads with sufficient speed.
Out of fear of failure to hit targets and lacking confidence in marketing, sales reps draw up their own lists of prospects, spending an excessive amount of time trawling the web as they attempt to unearth potential opportunities. And when they find likely candidates, they proceed to annoy them with unsolicited emails and follow-up calls, oblivious of the fact that many of their target companies have already spent months researching solutions to solve their specific business challenges. Too late to the party!
Timing and relevance are critical
Big-ticket sales opportunities often take months to come to fruition. From the buyer’s perspective, those months are spent researching the market, developing evaluation criteria, business cases, and high-level sponsorship to commit resources in people and funding. Reputations are at risk, so a lot is riding on the success of the initiative. Relevant business domain and technology expertise are corralled into a buyer group of individuals, each with their perceptions and pre-conceived ideas. Engineering, finance, operations, business analysts, IT, potential users, and other departmental representatives may be involved throughout the buying process or as required at different stages.
It is not unusual for the buyer group to have locked down its shortlist of potential vendors long before sales teams get an inkling that there is an opportunity afoot. It is during this pre-purchase phase that effective marketing can make all the difference. While sales may already have a relationship with one or two members of the buyer group and may seek referrals to others, it may already be too late to influence the buying group en-masse.
Marketing has a variety of tools at its disposal (subject to campaign budgets). Advertising and PR, especially relevant case studies, can provide more air cover to reach and influence unknown members of the buyer group. Webinars, or when the pandemic allows, conferences and trade shows provide opportunities to influence potential buyers.
Marketing and sales processes must reflect the buying process
The buying process should be mirrored by marketing and sales operating as a coherent and unified team. Account-based marketing (ABM) is an attempt to do this, but without the armory of tools across the entire buying journey, this is difficult, if not impossible, to execute. ABX – account-based experience is a more advanced evolution of ABM to systematize the whole process. (see What is ABX, and why should B2B companies care?).
Marketing may rely on several point solutions for different marketing campaign components—email marketing systems, advertising, content development, campaign management, etc. Each may have a separate database leading to data fragmentation, making it difficult to identify an audience and design an effective campaign. Once leads are generated, they may not automatically surface in the sales pipeline. If an effective scoring mechanism is unavailable, leads will be poorly qualified, antagonizing sales rather than adding value to the end-to-end process.
While connecting disparate systems via APIs is now relatively easy, this still leaves a fragmented process in place.
Oracle Advertising and Customer Experience (CX) solves the problem
On Monday, September 20th, Larry Ellison, Chairman of the board and CTO, announced two significant updates to Oracle Advertising and Customer Experience (CX). The first, Oracle Fusion Marketing, available now, manages the entire campaign creation and execution process and most significantly provides complete support and orchestration of the whole campaign armory, including the most complex – advertising.
Rob Tarkoff, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Oracle’s Advertising and (CX) Cloud, described the ideal business flow:
- Audience Segmentation – to ensure that the audience is relevant.
- Cross-Channel Campaign Activation – enabling the personalized campaign to flow across all channels. consistently, no matter what tools are used including landing pages and advertising.
- Automated Lead Qualification – to score leads based on defined criteria, and to ensure leads add value to the sales process and sales teams.
- Intelligent Opportunity Generator to surface the leads automatically within the sales force automation system.
Oracle Fusion Marketing orchestrates the ideal business flow
To reflect the ideal business flow, Oracle Fusion Marketing consists of four integrated modules:
- Audience segmentation is supported by Oracle’s Unity Customer Data Platform (CDP) to enrich and maintain customer data and synthesize online, offline, and third-party data sources. Its machine learning (ML) capabilities enable it to identify the best next action. Profiles are updated dynamically and include behavioral data.
- Fusion Advertising automates the delivery of personalized advertising and the production of microsite landing pages.
- Fusion Products and References – ensures that the most relevant products and case study references are used as part of the campaign. If a particular industry or segment is targeted, references that are likely to resonate as proof points to potential buyers are automatically surfaced.
- Email Marketing (Eloqua) provides everything needed to design and deliver emails as part of the integrated campaign.
The value of Oracle Fusion Marketing is that it improves productivity, relevance, reach, and enables marketers to devise campaigns that blend advertising with all the other tools in the marketer’s toolbox. Everything is integrated managed from a single user interface and dashboard and supported by the Unity CDP.
Qualified leads can be exported automatically into non-Oracle SFA systems.
Oracle Fusion Sales will complete the end-to-end process picture
The final critical piece of the end-to-end marketing and sales process are new modules for Oracle Fusion Sales expected in December 2021.