How to make data your closest ally for growth

Optimizing customer engagement and experience remains a key focus for sales and marketing leaders today.

As such, SugarCRM's second global research report focuses on the key challenges they face. The following is information from the recent Sugar blog post (see, 4/14/2022).

Customers demand simple, clear and relevant communication with your company. The pandemic changed their behavior, making them more selective and less patient, so companies should have embraced digital transformation overnight, according to Clare Dorrian, chief marketing officer of SugarCRM. Now, as companies approach their third year affected by the pandemic, a digital-first approach is not only necessary, but preferred by today's consumers, she said.

54% of sales leads generated by marketing are considered poorly qualified or underqualified.

Clare shares her thoughts on lead and revenue generation, saying that by combining artificial intelligence (AI) innovations with customer intent data, companies can take their sales and marketing efforts to the next level and at scale. This combination of insights creates a powerful data relationship. For example, companies could be notified in real time about a specific customer who was ready to close a sale.

You could understand his intent based on what topics he's reading about on the site and what device he's using. Based on that insight, you could then use AI and machine learning to match that customer with your company's ideal customer profile to create a personalized customer experience (CX) - with assets and messages to reach the right customer at the right time and through the channel of their choice.

One in four sales respondents believed they could be missing their quota due to incomplete data throughout the customer lifecycle.

Consumers and businesses received countless messages every day via email, chat, phone and social media, so companies needed to make sure messages cut through all the other "background noise," said Chris Pennington, chief customer officer at SugarCRM. The communications strategy must be based on building a relationship with the customer, not completing a single transaction, he said. To build that relationship, he said, a company needs to know each customer's preferred communication channel: SMS messages, email, Facebook Messenger, etc.

Having a centralized CRM system really helps, he said. The amount of data being produced is growing exponentially. It is important, he said, that when companies communicate with customers, they can address them in a format that suits them. With a back-end CRM system, preferences for communication styles could be tracked. It's important to be able to track this, he said, because customer behavior is constantly changing.

86% said their company's sales team uses artificial intelligence to improve one or more business processes. 91% said they expect to use AI technology in the next 24 months.

Investment in AI has increased during the pandemic. Not surprisingly, sales and marketing use cases have some of the highest adoption rates, as they can directly impact revenue.

The emerging problem is that many sales and marketing leaders can't find real solutions using any collection of lightweight AI automation tools, rather than AI specifically designed to solve sales and marketing challenges, according to Rich Green, chief technology officer at SugarCRM.

The solution, he said, lies in making AI pragmatic. Sugar has focused on bringing to market the first data-driven AI for CRM that provides an exceptional level of predictive accuracy without the time, cost and technical expertise typically required to take advantage of AI, Green said.

Seventy-five percent of respondents said a consolidated view of customer information across the enterprise is critical to delivering optimal customer experiences.

According to Volker Hildebrand, senior vice president of product marketing at SugarCRM, customers are changing the rules of engagement, and many companies are at an inflection point. Technology can be critical here, he said, but the time to act is now. It starts with eliminating blind spots: understanding what your customers want and predicting what they need next, he said. The focus remains on eliminating labor-intensive processes, making it easier for customers to engage, and empowering employees to create the CX customers expect, he said. Ultimately, it removes barriers and friction points so brands can consistently deliver on their promises, Hildebrand said.

Fifty-seven percent admit their organization struggles to effectively quantify and track its churn rate.

Companies would face a scary scenario - struggling to fill the top of the funnel with qualified leads while losing customers at the bottom, according to Craig Charlton, chief executive officer of SugarCRM. A major factor in losses on both sides of this equation is a lack of data, he said. Data would provide the actionable insights that sales, marketing and service teams need to act decisively at every critical touchpoint to drive high-resolution customer experiences and reverse major customer loss.