SFA & CRM for BI: Sales and Marketing redux

A few weeks back, I blogged about the necessity for sales and marketing to work in a symbiosis rather than a power struggle. This post is about what that means for SFA and CRM.

In the early 1990s, I worked at a startup named Aurum Software. It was one of the first companies to provide CRM solutions. On a humorous tangent, I’m happy CRM won. Our founder came from the ERP space and he had us call the solution Customer Resource Planning no matter how many times we told him CRP just wasn’t as polite an acronym as competition’s CRM.

One of the keys to the early success of Aurum and its competitors is that the core databases and software were set up to manage all customer facing applications. That mean we had sales, marketing and help desk front ends using the same database, so management could see a full picture of customer interaction.

Unfortunately, it was at a time when both software and hardware were much slower and CRM, as it still is, was very data intensive. To get people going, most ISVs concentrated on one of the three aspects and the split between CRM and SFA was born.

The result, over the past twenty years, was that the two systems rarely talked well with each other. Sales personnel would track their prospects through the funnel, marketing would track prospect and customer touch points in communications, but they were rarely linked and poorly linked if anything.

I worked with multiple companies who couldn’t sales and marketing information with any degree of business intelligence. One would just import the SFA’s first contact and that would always be the sole “lead source” tracked. Another did the opposite, the first campaign that ever received a ping from someone at a company was always considered to be the lead source for campaign analysis. It didn’t matter at either firm that the contact was a couple of years ago and a recent contact (sales or marketing) restarted the process.

One company tried to close the loop but didn’t know how. Marketing tracked campaigns in their CRM system and didn’t in their SFA system. A lead would be passed to sales, then that information would come back and the campaign information was no longer there and the loop couldn’t be closed.

What’s needed is for both sales and marketing to realize that BI requires a tighter link. Fortunately, the power of systems has advanced that better integration is starting to happen. In a bit of foreshadowing, I’ll say that I’m exciting to be going to Salesforce.com’s Salesforce1 World Tour tomorrow. Salesforce burst onto the scene years ago with a simple SaaS SFA platform, but it was clear they always intended more. Now, with the growth of their own CRM offerings, it’s starting to come together. I’m interested in seeing more, asking more, then blogging more.


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