You Can’t Handle the Truth

Why implementing a marketing automation and/or CRM system is not the right solution for everyone

I was recently reading a post by an SVP of marketing and sales (who shall remain nameless) in an industry trade (which shall also remain nameless) in which he was lamenting about the absolute failure of the company’s migration to a CRM and marketing automation platform. It was his opinion that the ROI has simply not justified the time and money spent during implementation and launch. As I continued to digest his thoughts, the answer became evermore blatantly clear…They simply weren’t ready!

As I continue to build my practice in the Southern California area I have seen the number of companies implementing such systems steadily rise. Therefore, it is no coincidence that the level of frustration has been rising in tandem. While this has been great for our business, it does not bode well for the industry. For most organizations right now who jump into marketing automation or a CRM without a sound strategy, process, and execution plan, they may as well set that money on fire. Because they will fail. Failure in this case is subjective, but safe to say they will not be nearly as successful as they should be. Unfortunately this has led to the finger being pointed at the software providers rather than organizations holding up a mirror to their current practices.

Often when we start working with clients who have tried marketing automation or CRMs and failed it is because they did not truly grasp the aspects of the tool. They purchased the product and used it the exact same way they had used their ESP (email service provider) previously or the way they have used a contact management system. And if that is the modus operandi then they might as well have stuck with the devil they know and saved themselves the effort and cost. Implementing such systems is a commitment to a fundamental shift in “business as usual” and as such, companies need to consider the ramification as well as plan in advance for the change they must embrace in order to be truly successful. They really need to play out how to use the behavior aspects of these various tools in order to get maximum results.

Most folks think that implementing such technology will be the Hail Mary they have been so desperately searching for…that they can flip a switch and revenue will leap exponentially in the span of a few weeks. It might. Then again bunnies and unicorns might also fall from the sky. CRMs and especially marketing automation is a disruptive technology in that it forces a company to think differently about its most important process: revenue creation as defined by the modern day buyer. This is a good thing! At most companies today, marketing and sales are working from an outdated playbook that was written back when interruptive, batch-and-blast, product-focused, hunch-based marketing actually worked, and sales was in control of the buying process. Those days are gone, but the thinking behind that playbook still exists. At RPM Demand, we refer to this “shift in thinking” as moving from Marketing 1.0 to Marketing 2.0 and beyond.

As much as marketing automation and CRM tools have gotten simpler over the years, the results of the tool are still reliant on the strategy and process of the organization. That will never change, no matter how “smart” we make our technology. In layman’s terms that means just because you bought a word processing software doesn’t mean that you are automatically going to write the next great American novel. The owness is not on the software…it is on you!

Most of our work with clients revolves around building out that strategy and developing a clear understanding of the key elements critical to laying a solid foundation. That is content, process, and resources. The last is perhaps the most important and as such one that I am calling out as a parting thought in this article. Too many companies think that implementing a new technology will allow them to downsize and save money. While technology is, in theory, supposed to make life easier it must be supported by quality people who understand how to maximize and leverage it. Ultimately it is only skilled and knowledgeable employees or consultants (wink, wink) who can maximize output with minimum effort.