CRM tools are invaluable for the businesses that use them, and robust contact management features are some of the most highly valued functions, with 94% of users prioritizing those features. Why does that statistic matter? Because employees and organizations need clear contact data – if it’s mishandled or employees can’t effectively use it, companies simply can’t thrive.
While that objective is simple enough for single-entity organizations—upload, share, and continually update contacts for better contact outreach—managing contacts once you have a merger or acquisition, or even if you have multiple CRMs across different departments, can become much trickier. Does everyone need access to all the records across the different entities, or would that cause confusion? When is the right time to merge and integrate everything?
Organizing mergers and complex organizational structures is already complicated, but handling the data underneath all the restructuring can be even more intricate—and just as vital to your organization’s long-term profitability. Use this helpful guide to think through some of the most critical organizational decisions for your CRM’s contact information to get started on the right path.
Creating a Plan to Manage Contact Records Across Multiple CRMs: Ask These Two Questions
Whenever two or more entities come together through a restructuring event, there are multiple iterations of different workflows, platforms, and tech stacks to reshuffle. When you want to handle most of your marketing operations through a Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) like Marketo, you can quickly get a lot of value out of the stored data and contacts in every integrated contact record, and this can make the tumultuous months following a merger more smooth for your employees and your growing customer base. However, you can choose four different main pathways for this integration and restructuring step:
- Give everyone access to all the records in the different CRMs from the various divisions or entities.
- Only allow partial access to the records by creating partitions around the data sets different departments need to access.
- Move all data records into one CRM, effectively “emptying” and discarding the others.
- Keep the CRMs separate but connected through a data integration platform.
Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages. Follow along to reimagine your datasets in each environment by asking yourself two questions:
1. Should Your MAP Have Partitions/Multiple Workspaces?
Setting up partitions can divide the data sets by divisions, product lines, entities, or other distinguishing factors. This allows you to toggle viewing and editing rights for different licenses, effectively controlling who can access specific contact records. For example, a marketer creating campaigns for one product line may design a strategy that reaches all of their accessible contacts.
In contrast, a marketer creates another campaign for a different product line or continent. Many organizations may use this process in the early stages of a merger as they look for a more permanent approach to data management, but it can also be used as a long-term strategy.
Advantages of Creating Partitions
This approach is a helpful stopgap if your organization is integrating and reviewing the tech stacks from different groups within the new organizational structure. It allows:
- Teams to continue with ‘business as usual.’ Partitions allow marketers and salespeople to continue focusing on their pool of contacts and responsibilities without being overwhelmed.
- Data security. Only people with the correct permissions can see specific data sets. If you operate in the healthcare niche or combine organizations across different countries, keeping the records separate for now gives you time to set up the correct protocols.
- Gradual combination. You may have multiple (and very distinct) product lines with the old branding. Keeping the contact records separate so you don’t cross-market may make the most sense for your customers. You may also allow your RevOps team to see all the data for forecasting and analysis while not allowing marketers and salespeople the same ‘on-the-ground’ access.
Disadvantages of Creating Partitions
However, there are disadvantages to this approach. Just as siloing information and departments makes interdepartmental collaboration challenging, partitioning your contact records can create artificial limits. Consider:
- Cross-selling. If your new divisions or product lines complement each other, keeping the contact records separate immediately eliminates the potential to cross-sell efficiently and add value for customers.
- Limited insights. Marketers can’t deliver accurate insights or strategies when they can’t see engagement records or behavioral patterns across the board or from partitioned segments. For example, a US division office won’t see behavioral insights from the EU division, and vice versa.
- Messiness. Marketing and sales teams might contact the same leads through different campaigns. From the customer’s perspective, this is messy, may give them conflicting information, and doesn’t present a cohesive idea of your company. This is terrible news if you’re trying to create a reputable global brand.
Creating distinct partitions and workspaces within your contact records can be helpful, especially during the transition. Adopting a slow middle ground can help you organize in front of complete integration, especially if you grant unconditional access to strategic teams.
Whether you create partitions or not, the first step is connecting all the data through a data integration solution so your core decision-makers can see all the data and make decisions accordingly.
2. Should You Keep the Records Within Your CRMs Separate or Merge Them Together in the MAP?
Your first decision—partitions or no partitions—was all about the employee-facing view of data. But now, instead of focusing on how the data is presented, it’s time to think about how it’s organized. After a merger, all of your new organization’s data is likely to be scattered across multiple CRMs; each company may have brought its own CRM to the table, or each company may have had several CRMs. In fact, lots of companies do this, and keeping fully distinct CRMs can certainly help your business divisions stay organized.
However, if you have a US division and an EU division, you may now have these contact records for the same customer entity:
- A US contact record for the worldwide headquarters and CEO
- An EU contact record for the worldwide headquarters and CEO (which is virtually identical)
- A US contact record for the US division, which is a paying customer
- An EU contact record for the EU division
- A US contact record for the EU division, which is a prospect
- Different individual stakeholder contact records for numerous divisions and departments around the world
All of these contact records are for the same core customer, but they may also need to be handled entirely separately, parsed and merged by hand, or consolidated by agreement amendments or during the renewal cycle. It’s a complex problem.
If you keep all of the contact records completely separate, it can stave off some of the headaches, but it can confound growth opportunities and insight into your customer network. But connecting all of the CRMs together without the right process and integration technology will leave your teams with a lot of duplicates that are hard to make sense of. Let’s take a deeper look at the options:
Advantages of Separate Records Across Your Multiple CRMs
Separate contact records that connect to your MAP but aren’t your MAP create 1:1 relationships between the CRM-specific contact record and the contact record reflected in the MAP. This can grant you similar advantages to partitions:
- Maybe your marketing and sales teams shouldn’t see the data from other divisions
- With the right data infrastructure, you can connect your MAP and each CRM’s records in such a way that the different teams get up-to-date information, and everything flows through the system without errors. This wouldn’t have been possible without recent developments in cloud-based tech and data automation tools that can keep everything straight.
- Give yourself time to merge things more thoughtfully.
Advantages of Merging Your Contact Records Together in Your MAP
Ultimately, the end goal for most organizations is to allow cross-division or cross-departmental access to all the records, as needed. Businesses can still maintain separate CRMs, but they can break down potential silos or gaps in understanding client accounts. Isolated contact records can become a liability, as new hires may lose sight of other pockets of data or split up contact records, interfering with generating personalized, behaviorally accurate campaigns. Some of the advantages of taking the plunge and unifying the data across your CRMs are:
- All of the duplicate contact records are merged through your MAP. This simplifies access, makes visualizing your data much easier, and can streamline processes for putting together forecast models.
- The MAP pushes out contact records to all of the connected CRMs, platforms, and workflow tools. Everyone is operating from the same understanding and can instantly see updates to contact records. This gives each employee a more holistic 360-degree view of each customer, making errors much less likely and powering account managers or salespeople with a better understanding of key accounts’ needs and progress.
Putting the Pieces Together: What Does the Data Flow Look Like With Merged Contact Records?
When the merger documents are freshly signed, and it’s time to make all the entities fit together, start with a cohesive plan for integrating customer data and contact records. You may need to create partitioned segments, where each CRM flows into your MAP, all the contact records undergo updates and changes as required, and then the individual data streams only flow back to their specific CRM.
Over time, you may break down those partitions so everyone receives all the updated data and can view contacts more cohesively. The final step, merging contact records in your MAP, grants the most detailed insights.
No matter what path you take, Vertify is here to help. Our data automation and integration solution can keep data flowing throughout your tech stack—or division tech stacks—so everyone has the correct view in real-time. Even better, Vertify keeps up with your changes so you can orchestrate your data pathways and change to different strategies for controlling your data over time. Contact us today to schedule a demo and see which contact record management pathway fits your organization best.