Sales and marketing teams need more data than ever to engage prospects and delight customers. It’s no longer a luxury to have an IT system that captures data from every customer touch point – it’s the expectation. Prospects expect their sales rep to know as much information about them as possible to help determine if a product or service fits their needs quickly. Customers also expect support staff to know every detail of their account so they can get quick answers and resolve issues.
That means data needs to pass seamlessly between every department that touches the customer – marketing, sales, customer service, accounting and project management. In the IT world, we call this “integration.”
Creating a fully integrated business software solution for a 360° view of your customers
Integration of sales and marketing data is a major priority for most organizations today because there isn’t one software system that works for the whole enterprise (or small business). Sales has their CRM, marketing has marketing automation and accounting might use an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. Employees may not get information they need about customers, sales or invoices because data simply can’t pass between disparate systems. Or worse, the data may be stale and inaccurate.
However, just because each department uses a different system doesn’t mean the data needs to stay contained to that system and department. With today’s development tools, businesses can integrate sales and marketing data with virtually any system securely and effectively to ensure their employees have the right information about their prospects and customers.
Some businesses choose to handle this through custom integration, where a skilled developer codes the integration. Other companies, though, are increasingly turning to “drag and drop” or “middleware” tools to handle their integration. Jitterbit, for example, doesn’t require developer knowledge and can be quickly deployed by an administrator. Zapier is another great tool used for connecting specific functions of apps such as adding a new email address to a new field in a spreadsheet in Google apps.
Using middleware tools for integration
Both Jitterbit and Zapier charge on a monthly “Software as a Service (SaaS)” model, which can be more cost-effective when considering that effective integration is usually not a one and done project. If your organization is preparing to launch a new system like Salesforce, there’s usually a big one-time data migration or “batch integration” from your old system. But integration doesn’t stop there. As customer and prospect data is updated in one system, those updates need to sync to other systems. “Real-time” data integration processes transactions and updates as they occur. This ensures data is fresh and enables users to make good business decisions about the information. If data isn’t “real time,” users might fight adoption because they feel this limited view or lack of “integration” doesn’t provide them the tools they need to do their jobs.
Native integrations growing in popularity
In some cases, the system you’re using may be pre-integrated with other common technologies as a “native integration,” and the integration setup may be simple to configure. Many of the top marketing automation solutions such as Pardot pre-integrate with popular CRMs like Salesforce. Understanding what data needs to pass between systems, and how often the sync will occur, will still take some analysis, though.
Developing an integration strategy
There’s no one sales and marketing integration recipe that works for all organizations. No two organizations are completely alike – they have different processes, people, technologies, challenges and other nuances. Whatever type of integration you build either through custom coding or a “drag and drop” tool needs to be configured and customized to your organization’s specific needs because the system ultimately needs to work for your users.
Developing an effective integration strategy requires deep analysis and information gathering that answers the 4 W’s (and 1 H): who needs the data, what data do they need, when do they need it, where will the data sit and how will users access it.
Integration isn’t easy – you must develop a game plan for success and it’s a major challenge for organizations without the resources to develop, implement and support integration. That’s when it’s helpful to enlist skilled integration specialists and developers who partner with the apps you want to integrate. When you hire the right integration team, you gain access to developers who have completed similar integrations and can reach your objective more efficiently and effectively.