E-mail marketing and interactive CRM: involving the sales team?


Lead generation, enriching customer and e-mail subscriber lists and databases, recruiting new subscribers to newsletters: they are all tasks that traditionally belong to the e-mail marketers and database marketer's terrain.

Theoretically, the marketing department is responsible for growing the e-mail lists, acquiring more data about recipients with follow-up actions, generating and nurturing leads and gathering demographic and behavioral data to optimize the relevance of their marketing dialogues.

The purpose: striving towards more personalized and valuable interactions until leads can be passed on to sales and optimizing customer retention strategies.

That is the theory and it also often occurs like this. But, in times where the client should play a more central role in the company the rules of the game should be reassessed. A strict division between sales and marketing and thinking in silos is not possible anymore if a company desires to operate in a customer-centric and cross-channel way. And thus, the tasks of marketers evolve.

However, not only the marketing department has to evolve. The sales department must also do this, certainly now that people buy more and sellers sell less: the famous shift from selling to buying in an online world.

Sales people expect qualified leads from marketers but marketers can also expect more from sales, it goes in two directions.

In e-mail marketing for example sales reps are immensely valuable. Most ways in which they can contribute are known: asking to subscribe to the email program with every (new) client contact, collecting opt-ins at exhibitions and networking events along with business cards, you name it.

Enriching customer and e-mail lists with the help of sales

There is also an often forgotten way in which sales can contribute to e-mail marketing programs but unfortunately it does not happen often in practice. The fact that it doesn't is not only an issue of cross-departmental strategy and clear agreement, often it is also of a lack of management and…a matter of personal will.

Many sales people have details of customers that never make it to marketing. In the best case they end up in a sales database or a sales force management system. E-mail addresses but also birthdays, family compositions, personal preferences and - why not - social media accounts.

These are just a few examples but they are all elements that can greatly improve the relevance and personalization of e-mail campaigns, avoid marketing fatigue and even improve deliverability!

Why connecting e-mail marketing and CRM matters

So, what can you do to encourage sales to share all these data?

  • You define a clear strategy, make agreements and make it clear why this is important to them. You ensure that sales and marketing management work together with other managers to establish a customer-centric and cross departmental strategy and control mechanisms.
  • You implement that way of working and thinking whereby customer service in the broad sense is truly king and whereby everyone collaborates to realize that common goal: relevance.
  • You look at other ways to prove the advantages to sales. Actually the enrichment of the databases and the relevance of the client interactions should be a sufficient advantage. But sometimes - especially if your company is both on a "mental" and organizational level not yet ready for such a holistic customer-centric integrated approach  - you will have to take it a step further.

The ideal situation is obviously that all databases are connected and that CRM forms part of marketing and sales whereby in both divisions there is a data-driven philosophy and a coordinated and systematic data management is an evident matter.

Unfortunately many companies - in practice - are not yet ready for this. But that's no reason to not get sales more involved in your e-mail marketing and lead nurturing efforts.


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