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Like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, marketing and sales teams' moving in harmony is the holy grail of delivering a better customer experience (CX).

Although the importance of Marketing and Sales alignment has been discussed extensively, core issues are often ignored—one being that the traditional CRM is no longer enough.

For years, B2B marketers have relied on CRM systems to manage customers and leads and synchronize efforts with Sales. The reality is that CRMs—which should be the lynchpin for any CX strategy—aren't fit for purpose. They have become unwieldy and hard to manage for most B2B marketers, further contributing to the widening gap between Marketing and Sales.

CRM software now requires more effort to feed and maintain than is worth the value provided in return.

The headaches and hassles caused by traditional CRMs are very real. In fact, just over half of 1,000 surveyed sales leaders indicated that their CRM costs them revenue, a recent survey found.

The main cause is a lack of ability to predict and prevent customer attrition, also known as churn, and it has many B2B marketers seeking a means to tighten alignment with Sales to deliver exceptional CX and create customers for life.

That's where a modernized CRM platform powered by artificial intelligence (AI) plays a critical role.

The High Cost of Churn Has B2B Marketers Investing in Customer Retention Strategies

In the previously cited study, some 57% of sales leaders said they couldn't predict when customers would churn, whereas 56% reported increased customer churn in the previous 12 months, and 48% reported not knowing why customers churned.

Churn costs mid-market companies an average of $5.5 million a year, which has a devastating effect on brand perception and loyalty.

The lack of insights on customers and prospects has B2B marketers prioritizing data-informed customer retention strategies.

Breaking Down Data Silos Elevates CX Initiatives

Companies need access to a single source of truth to optimize CX and manage the expectations required to minimize churn. Difficulties arise when Marketing and Sales work in silos and cannot extract full value from traditional CRM systems. One-third of surveyed sales leaders reported that incomplete data was a significant source of frustration, and one-half said they lacked access to customer data, in a single view, across all functions and parts of the business.

B2B marketers rely on CRM systems to build winning customer loyalty and retention programs (fundamental to CX transformation and business growth). Companies that improve the accuracy and completeness of their customer data stand to improve retention and increase revenue.

A lack of customer clarity may be why 88% of sales leaders surveyed said they are looking to AI for help with getting more out of their current CRM processes within the next 24 months to help leapfrog the competition.

An AI-Infused CRM Platform Enables Dynamic B2B Marketing and Sales Targeting

Today, AI is delivering "fractional" and predictive customer journey analytics that provide B2B marketers with never-before-seen insights in between traditional customer journey mile markers, all in real-time, thus vastly improving marketing and sales efficacy.

AI-powered predictions give B2B marketers a crystal ball to see previously unseen correlations in customer behavioral attributes that can bring upsell opportunities and flag customers likely to churn. They also help to align sales prospects to an organization's ideal customer profile (ICP).

B2B marketers can now predict the customer lifetime value of that prospect at the start of the customer lifecycle (as opposed to years down the road), prioritizing leads via their historical success track record, which helps marketers focus their efforts on the best opportunities and improve performance.

A Winning CX Formula Commands Marketing and Sales Alignment

The pandemic dramatically changed how companies engage with their customers and prospects. Alongside the shift, heightened "churn concern" ensued, calling on companies to prioritize data-informed customer retention strategies to keep loyal customers by their side, protect revenue, and improve business growth.

Today, AI-infused CRM platforms are redefining the user experience by eliminating blind spots, busy work, and roadblocks for marketing and sales teams. A single source of truth helps marketing and sales teams align, reach new levels of performance and predictability, and deliver a more meaningful and memorable CX by letting the platform do the work. That is the winning formula for sales and marketing.

More Resources on CX and Reducing Customer Churn

Four Ways to Reduce Churn and Create a Companywide Culture of Customer Success

Great CX Calls for New Strategies and Stronger Collaboration

How to Win With CX in the Hybrid World

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

image of Clare Dorrian

Clare Dorrian is the chief marketing officer at SugarCRM, a CRM software platform. She is responsible for overseeing the company's overall integrated marketing strategy. She also leads the customer marketing, revenue generation, product marketing, and marketing operations teams.

LinkedIn: Clare Dorrian

Twitter: @ClareDorrian

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