This week’s guest blog has been kindly provided by Aden Forrest, ANZ MD of Marketo, creators of b2b demand generation software. Thanks Aden!
Marketing and Sales united. Yes, it can happen!
We’ve all seen it. The sales team and marketing team seemingly at odds, even though they share the same objective of bringing on board profitable customers. When targets aren’t met the blame game quickly begins.
Often Sales complain that Marketing’s leads lack quality. They’ll say the prospects are too far off making a purchase – or they are not the decision makers they need to reach. Marketing might be feeding the sales funnel, but it’s wasting a lot of time with fruitless phone calls and follow ups.
Thankfully, Marketing Automation fixes the issue. For a start, leads can be nurtured for longer. Triggers can be set for when a prospect is deemed sales-ready. If they like, the sales team can help define that process. Till the prospect reaches that point the marketing team will keep in contact through a series of integrated communications – eDMs, events, blogs, videos, webinars. Whatever it takes to keep the prospect engaged.
When the various criteria are met - often it’s a series of actions they have taken over a short period – the lead is ready to be passed over to the sales team. It turns into a sales-qualified lead.
If the sales team finds the leads are still not ready for conversion, then they can be tipped back into the nurturing process.
If it happens a lot then sales and marketing know there’s something wrong with the way they have configured their marketing automation process. It could be the leads are being collected from the wrong type of source – for example, trade shows might not be the right avenue. Or it could be the quality of the content - it might be pitched at too high a level and the prospects really need something that explores deeper concepts and reinforces your reputation as experts in your field. Or it could simply be the wrong triggers are chosen for determining when the lead is declared sales-ready.
The beauty of marketing automation is that all these factors are tracked. Refining the process involves looking at the numbers and making a call on how it can be improved. And it’s something that can be shared between sales and marketing. It’s no longer an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality. Instead both teams really can work together on a shared solution.
The use of hard numbers is the crucial factor. In the past marketing had few statistics to work with – advertising response rates, for example - and they were somewhat detached from the final conversion rates and profit figures that were driving sales. These days smart marketing solutions track prospects from their origin through to sales, tracking engagement with all communications along the way, including website visits, email sign-ups, videos watched and documents downloaded. Sales and marketing can work together on drawing conclusions on what the figures mean – a big step forward in sales-marketing relations.
It’s also a completely moveable feast. Those testy marketing types of old invariably got upset when the sales folk suggested what the advertising should look like. But these days large parts of the marketing process can be tweaked at little or no cost. Suggestions from the sales team can be taken on board with a more iterative ‘suck it and see’ approach.
Through all of this, marketing gets a handle on what is influencing sales at a grass roots level, whilst the sales team start to understand the complexity of marketing and the interplay between creative and execution.
Sales and marketing disputes are being relegated to the past, without resorting to a peace treaty at Camp David. It’s the power of marketing automation, which we should really call ‘sales and marketing automation’ to reflect this new entente cordial.
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