CRM or Marketing Automation – What Should You Buy First?

If you’re a growing business, you long ago realized that equipping your employees with the latest technology (both hardware and software) isn’t cheap. You’ve probably already gone through the exercise of prioritizing what marketing and sales programs you absolutely need to run, and what software will help you do that. For any business, CRM and marketing automation are high on the list necessary of tools. However, if you could only choose one, what should you buy first?

Before we answer that question, to be clear, the ideal scenario is to pair CRM and marketing automation together. Linda West, our friend over at Act-On Software recently described CRM and marketing automation as Jordan and Pippen (or Curry and Durant to be current), an unstoppable duo who each performs at their best when paired together. I agree, but if you could only buy one…

The question comes down to pipeline management versus demand generation. Both are incredibly important at different stages of the buyer’s journey, but I’d argue you need to know your customers, and have a firm grasp of your customer data before you can point your marketing automation campaigns in the right direction. The more you understand your customer, the more targeted and strategic you can be in your outbound communications.

When used best, marketing automation is about scaling and repeating your marketing programs. You figure out what works, with who, and when…and then you keep doing it because it is successful. However, before you start generating new leads, you absolutely need a sales team (with the help of their CRM) to prioritize and qualify those fresh leads. It doesn’t make sense to get a bunch of leads into the funnel unless you have the team and tools in place to handle those leads.

Now, if you have the right CRM, one that covers the core tenets of lead management (even if it’s not a full service marketing automation system), your business can generate, route and convert leads to gain this understanding of the customer. And when it comes time to really put the foot on the gas pedal of demand generation, adding a marketing automation system is the obvious next step.

SugarCRM integrates with many leading marketing automation companies to transfer leads between marketing and sales. By putting marketing insights into the hands of your customer-facing teams, you ensure every interaction they have with customers and prospects is productive. And, by leveraging Sugar data inside your marketing automation tool, you get better metrics on the successes of your campaigns, ensuring marketing is building a healthy pipeline for the business.

So, deploy your CRM first, then head over to the SugarExchange and take a look at all the marketing automation companies that we partner with.