In the Small Business Imperatives for the Digital Age report, two-thirds of the small businesses surveyed recognise the importance of sales and marketing activities, saying they enabled them to achieve their business goals. Sales and marketing-enabled goals were also listed among the top measures of success, including sales growth (40%) and customer acquisition (35%).
However, the lines between sales and marketing are becoming more and more blurred, as the customer becomes more and more sophisticated. Technology is needed to unify and connect the two functions, and deliver the experiences customers have come to expect.
The age of the connected customer
The old way of connecting with customers simply doesn’t cut it anymore, says Merlin Luck, Commercial Sales Manager at Salesforce.
“We’re in the age of the connected customer,” he says. “The social, mobile and AI technology revolution has dramatically shifted customer expectations. Customers now expect personalised, connected and cohesive experiences.”
Gartner research shows that customer experience is the new brand battlefront. In 2019, 81% of marketers expect to be competing mostly or completely on the basis of customer experience. If sales and marketing aren’t working together, the risk is a disjointed, unsatisfactory customer experience.
“Historically, small businesses have been excellent at customer centricity but how do you stay close to the customer as you grow? And how do you stay close to the customer in this new age? You can’t without the right technology,” says Luck.
CRM creating connected experiences
To truly deliver a differentiated customer experience and easily scale your business as you grow, you need to have all the functions of your business, including sales and marketing, connected around the customer on a single CRM platform.
Yet, according to the Deloitte report, only 30% of small businesses have CRM software. But, of those that do, 94% reported an improvement from their previous system, and 28% earn more revenue, on average, than those businesses using spreadsheets, paper or no system.
Small businesses have a big opportunity for improvement with CRM, and more and more are starting to understand that such technology is needed in the age we’re in. In 2017, 59% of small businesses who didn’t use a CRM felt their existing system was good enough, while only 39% said the same in 2018.
Luck explains that you shouldn’t think of a CRM as just a system of record.
“A good CRM is not a rolodex where you store your customer data. A good CRM is a system of engagement that enables you to connect with your customers across functions to create personalised connected experiences,” he says.
“For example, marketing can hand over a lead to sales at the right time and they can engage in a contextually relevant way, accessing all previous interactions.”
The small business advantage
Cloud technology has created a level playing field, giving small businesses access to the same tools enterprise businesses are using to connect with customers. And Luck believes small business has a distinct advantage over enterprise organisations.
“Small businesses are agile and nimble. If you combine that agility and the disruptive thinking of a startup with enterprise-grade technology, you’re in a powerful position to deliver connected customer experiences and drive hyper growth,” he says.
A connected technology strategy
To succeed in the age of the connected customer, small businesses need to think of technology as an integral part of everything they do, both at a strategic and operational level. The danger comes when a business doesn’t have a connected technology strategy and ends up with a ‘Frankenstein’ approach.
“A business might go out and buy a great little marketing tool and a great little sales tool, and over time they end up running their business off a dozen fragmented applications,” says Luck.
“Not only does the total cost of ownership skyrocket when you’re adding technology in this piecemeal way, but it’s also impossible to have a single view of the customer because every function is working in a different application.”
5 ways towards collaborative sales and marketing
Here’s five ways technology can help sales and marketing functions connect more effectively:
- When sales and marketing (and all other customer-facing departments) are connected on a single platform, they have access to a single view of the customer.
- That platform enables a collaboration layer, so employees across the business can share files and comments, and engage more closely on individual customers and prospects.
- Mobile accessibility. Having everything available in the palm of your employees’ hands optimises productivity and real-time collaboration.
- The automation of business processes. For example, as soon as a function completes a task, a notification is automatically created for the next function to pick it up. And because they’re completed on the same platform, the next person has all historical data.
- Provides end-to-end analytics to measure function performance, so that stickiness and lifetime value of the customer is improved.
How Big Red Group is connecting with customers, suppliers and employees
The Big Red Group (BRG) is one small business that’s prioritised the implementation of technology, enabling cross-functional collaboration — it had to if it wanted to achieve its mission of becoming the leading ecommerce retailer in Australia.
“Such a lofty goal required us to know our customers on a deeper level and have the ability to truly nurture supplier relationships,” says David Anderson, CEO and Co-Founder of the Big Red Group, the parent company of brands such as RedBalloon.
Big Red Group is now able to personalise its customer experience, scale its online marketplaces, have a single view of the customer across multiple marketplaces, and create intimacy between customers, suppliers and employees.
Discover how digital technologies can impact the revenue and growth of your small business. Download the Small Business Imperatives for the Digital Age report.