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Your Company’s Most Valuable Sales Rep? Integrated Data

The business environment has evolved with social, mobile and cloud-hosted apps becoming popular access points providing valuable client information. Unfortunately, many organizations share the belated realization that the mobile agility and power of cloud-hosted CRM, ERP and other core business apps comes with integration challenges. Indeed, although Oracle found that 81 percent of LOB managers deem integration between cloud apps as very important, Scribe’s yearly State of Data Integration studyfound that only 16 percent of businessesindicate full integration among business systems.

For companies that successfully integrate apps, the benefits of data effortlessly passing from sales to marketing to customer care are realized when clients and prospects feel that their needs are understood. Integrated data provides the platform for this understanding, allowing companies to target communications based on how and when customers are most receptive to engagement with meaningful content.

Integration Challenges and Benefits: LED Source’s Data Integration Journey

LED Source,North America’s No. 1 LED lighting franchise operation, recognized the need to be data-driven. The company wanted to make better sales and marketing decisions in real time while expediting the launch of new franchisees. Operating in a 100 percent cloud environment, it made the common mistake of assuming that cloud apps come preintegrated and that popular apps would seamlessly share data. The reality was that despite selecting well-established solutions, their Salesforce CRM didn’t include a prepackaged integration with Intuit’s QuickBooks, so when both were launched across the franchise, headquarters had no visibility into critical sales and financial information happening at their various sites.

LED Source went through more than 10 integration solution providers before finding a platform that enabled it to build a connector between Salesforce and QuickBooks to use repeatedly across existing retailers, as well as allow quick onboarding of new locations. Finding the right platform to enable easily repeatable integrations between its key CRM and financial systems saved LED Source 30 percent in labor and productivity costs alone, and the benefits of connected systems will increase as the franchise scales. With data disconnects becoming commonplace, many organizations are looking to best of breed platform integration experts who, in consultation with LOB managers and organizational IT departments, solve complex integrations effectively and quickly.

Effective Data Integration Is Critical in Today’s Multi-Channel World

While everyone agrees both that customer data integration is necessary and that few have attained it, consequences of misaligned data are felt by many organizations. Staff downtime, missed deadlines and stunted initiatives are a few of the direct consequences of non-integrated cloud application data. Customer and prospect relations are also hard hit when sales, marketing and customer care associates cannot access the necessary client data they need to drive a sale or identify systems in place. This is a particularly painful scenario as customers are now, on average, almost 60 percent through the sales funnel before they contact a business – they have been researching across social and digital media channels and are extremely well informed with specific questions and precise requirements. Salespeople need visibility into every angle of that prospect’s experience in order to effectively meet these increasingly complex needs.

When critical business apps are tactically aligned, rewards are high. Imagine if you were able to predict churn with analytics captured across channels and customer access points, or able to subtly adjust a sales tactic for a specific cohort. The unimpeded flow of information between marketing, sales, and customer care requires an interdepartmental plan with buy-in from all departments; IT and LOB managers need to get on the same page and establish which key client data-points will best serve each department. Teams equipped with incisive, comprehensive views into specific accounts are able to increase revenue per customer while driving higher customer engagement and satisfaction, which are the top two priorities for businesses and systems integrators, according to the State of Customer Data Integration Survey in 2013.

The benefits of effective data integration empower sales and marketing reps to:

  • Meet customer expectations by understanding their needs and identifying the clients and prospects who are ready to upgrade
  • Leverage customer care data and inquire about a problem they may have had, providing an opportunity to introduce a new solution
  • Follow-up on marketing campaigns or gauge satisfaction with recent purchases
  • Avoid beleaguered clients who have indicated limited communication preferences
  • Identify clients who may have defaulted on payments or contracts
  • Leverage referrals and introductions
  • Recognize and reward long-term clients
  • Review the success of marketing and sales campaigns and subsequently adjust tactics
  • Route support tickets to the optimal customer support associate

Customer and prospect management platforms are increasingly migrating to the cloud.  Customers have largely taken to social and mobile media channels in sustained efforts to gain detailed knowledge about the products and services they will ultimately purchase. Without a strong integrated data strategy that leverages pertinent customer data points across channels and apps, sales and marketing folks can simply not be effective today in selling to and serving their clients, or in meeting their increasingly complex demands.

Conversely, the power of integrated customer data to drive prospect-to-customer conversions and increase client satisfaction and engagement cannot be overstated. On that note, how have you adopted customer data for your sales force? And what challenges or benefits have you encountered?

As vice president of sales for Scribe Software, Lou Antonucci is responsible for leading the company's global sales efforts. Prior to joining Scribe in 2005, Antonucci served for more than 25 years in leadership positions in channel development, channel sales and direct sales.