According to the CMO council's 2006 Select & Connect report, 66.9% of those surveyed have no formal system for tracking marketing's role in customer acquisition, retention and value creation. Over 36% don't have a formal lead system for evaluating, grading and scoring leads and over 55% don't monitor churn and retention rates.
"More specifically, the findings show that most marketers are not maintaining significant contact with customers--and when they do, they fail to systematically evaluate and track customers throughout the pipeline."
These findings indicate that marketing is having a difficult time reorganizing for both focus on the customer and alignment with strategic business objectives.
The report produces a laundry list of what needs work, which can be overwhelming when you're trying to determine the best way to make an impact without totally disrupting ongoing activities. From data integration to who has responsibility for generating customer conversations and interactions, there is a tremendous need for marketing to undergo a serious reinvention if it intends on becoming the driver of customer centric cultures within their organizations.
The way to tackle this challenge is to use an iterative approach. Break off bite-sized pieces that will produce tangible results quickly and generate enthusiasm. Evaluate the strategic goals of the organization and determine how to shift marketing initiatives to more substantially contribute to achieving those goals. Take on one project at a time and plan for how that project extends into the next iteration. Once you have results, evaluate, make adjustments and add the extension project. Repeat.
The projects with the most immediate impact are probably focused on achieving better quality leads by initiating interactions and creating conversations that enable marketing to better profile ideal customer targets and discover why the organization retains current customers. Until you know why your customers choose your products and services, how they use them and why they stick with you, you cannot meaningfully impact either end of this challenge. Marketing needs to get involved with customers if they are going to attract new ones and become a partner in the sales process.
Synchronizing sales and marketing activities is a tremendous first project, but for it to be successful, marketing needs to raise credibility with the sales team. Take small successes and grow them. Trying to make a massive change at once is most likely too much upheaval to gain ready acceptance.
Putting tools in place that extend marketing's view into the CRM system so they can, not only learn more about key customers, but participate in the sales process and monitor leads from generation through sales is one of the keys to synchronization. This knowledge will also prove marketing's contribution to sales and help the two departments work more closely together.
Marketing's contribution has to be seen as helpful, proactive and impact sales results to give the sales force a reason to get on board. By providing insights to lead interactions and activities, marketing can set up sales for more productive conversations and shorten time to revenue.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not minimizing this effort at all. In fact, the more interactions marketing has with prospects, the more expectations are being set that need to be consistently delivered across the organization.
Marketing impact needs to stem from customer interactions, conversations and experiences. Being in touch with the customer is the key to choosing the right efforts to impact the customer lifecycle from lead to long-term loyalty.
If you'd like to read the Select & Connect Report, it's available here.