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Has Oracle written the script for CRM success?

28th Mar 2012
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Oracle showcased Fusion CRM at the BAFTA headquarters this week, where research into sales and marketing demonstrated how your CRM story could have a happy ending.

Oracle’s SVP of CRM Anthony Lye set the scene for the event, suggesting products are becoming commoditised, so that the only way to differentiate is through the relationship with the customer. But he warned that “customers are more and more in control of that relationship, so you have to provide great experiences for them.”
Due to these shifting sands, CRM has emerged as the hero of the piece – businesses are increasingly acknowledging its importance and so the category is experiencing robust growth, with Cloud CRM forecast to expand 16.7% through 2015.
But few businesses are successfully achieving the single view of the customer across multiple channels that CRM promises, so efforts to become more customer-focused are floundering. Most organisations have highly fragmented solutions, are duplicating data, replicating a lot of processes and aren’t connected around the customer, Lye proposed.
But these problems aren’t insurmountable.
“The quickest win within your organisation to create a single view is to connect your marketing organisation with your selling organisation, align goals, processes, people and technology,” he explained.
And this is a transition that is already happening – “VPs of marketing have started turning up in the same meetings as VPs of sales, we have started to see that they want to work together” – but this convergence needs nurturing.
Aligning marketing and sales
Having identified this issue, Oracle launched a research project to identify how organisations can support efforts to align marketing functions with selling functions. The findings identified six steps.  
Goal alignment is top of the agenda said Lye.
“We asked VPs of sales and VPs of marketing what kept them up at night, and there was a lot of synergy. VPs of sales care about the current quarter. They want to close the quarter and over-achieve against the plan. But they struggle to do that. Marketing’s responsibility, meanwhile, is to own the revenue for Q1 and Q2 – but it can’t.”
He continued: “Organisations must ensure the VP of sales has responsibility for the current quarter, but the VP of marketing should provide enough business for the quarters beyond the current one. Most today don’t have that. But if you give them that, it supports much more cooperation.”
The second tip that emerged from the research was that organisations must define a single view of their revenue, so that they are able to track revenue from lead to closed business – pipelines that are traditionally separate today.
“Marketing invests a lot into the beginning of the pipeline, but most of it doesn’t make it into the sales pipeline because they are poorly qualified, because the customers are not interested in the product or there is not enough information for sales to qualify the leads. This means a significant fallout of revenue,” said Lye.
“So sales fills the gap by generating its own leads, doing this through any means it can. It wastes its time in lead generation when the selling should be focused on lead opportunities.”
But while sales shouldn’t be supporting the gap between sales and marketing, the research indicates that it isn’t as simple as connecting the two pipelines together, it needs a new phase entirely – prospecting.
“This is where sales and marketing collaborate; where leads become opportunities; where real insight is delivered. With a good prospecting phase we can demonstrate an increase in output and revenue, a high percentage win rate, and a lower time to close.”
The prospecting phase is important but relies on sales and marketing – and indeed the organisation – being aligned. This is step three.
“In Fusion there are capabilities to align the organisation – we enable marketing on the same platform to build campaigns connected to sales stages. It can affect leads and opportunities at the top end of the funnel. And the selling organisation can take advantage of marketing content – the materials that are exclusively within marketing can now be used by sales. Your sales teams have been campaigning forever, but it’s usually by email, it isn’t aligned with the corporate message and it’s being sent to people it shouldn’t. By aligning them we can increase output and the quality of that output.”
Oracle’s research indicates that creating a single customer repository and view – “We have to move away from disparate contact databases to a single view of the truth” – and defining the selling process from marketing all the way to sales – “not having this business logic transposed into multiple systems” – were similarly important.
And this would ultimately support efforts to create a single reporting structure.
Lye explained: “If you can create a single source of truth and deliver integrated pipelines encompassing marketing and sales, you can align the to the same revenue goal and then from that you can derive a single reporting structure and view. The marketing organisation can demonstrate its ROI – a closed loop so that all the marketing investment can be justified.”
Material advantage
All of this sounds wonderful in theory – but does it work in practice? Oracle believes customers of Fusion CRM demonstrate so.
Lye estimated that more than 200 customers have aligned sales and marketing with Oracle CRM and added that one of them, a leading European medical products business, aligned its processes and systems into a single revenue pipeline within six weeks of going live, increasing marketing productivity and achieving an increase from 15%-20% conversion rate, with the VP of marketing able to demonstrate ROI.
“We want to change the fundamentals of lead and opportunity, to connect the data and business processes, the reporting, goals and KPIs between the VPs – and on a single platform.”
He concluded: “Operating in a disconnected fashion having two distinct systems will cost you time and money. So we feel there’s a material advantage in a solution like this.”

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By johnstonph
29th Mar 2012 11:39

The short answer is no - I did.

When I created Technology Aided Prospecting, it was all about creating an integrated prospecting team with sales and marketing working together underpinned by clever technology.

But this technology does not take the form of the traditional CRM - it is much more intelligence driven, takes inputs from a much wider variety of sources and has much clever ways of integrating and organising this information.

One of the problems of marketing automation is that there is a big gap between the rhetoric and the product capabilities - they talk a lot about social and customer but underneath are only ways of automating old-fashioned push marketing.

It sounds to me like Oracle is guilty of the same deceptive practices.

-- Head of Marketing at T-Impact - IBM and Avaya partner - expert in Business Process Management (BPM)

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