“If only….If only…” It’s the lament of every salesperson when it comes to marketing qualified leads. (Of course, for different reasons it’s also the lament of every marketing person when it comes to working with sales teams, but that is a column for another day.) Salespeople want more and better-qualified leads, and most don’t realize or appreciate the value they get from good marketing automation.
I urge every salesperson and sales director to work with your marketing team to implement a great automation solution for your business. You will get more helpful marketing support. Your marketing team will be more effective. Be a team, as success will require that you both participate:
- Since salespeople know the “real-life” experiences of the prospect lifecycle better than anyone else, they are essential to marketing automation optimization to help align messaging with timing and cadence.
- Since marketing people are really good at the creative innovation that engages prospects, they are essential to marketing automation optimization and execution.
- Since both types of professionals are good at interpreting results and living by the numbers, insights gleaned from response and prospect behavior data are essential to optimization.
Those three things are not new. What does marketing automation add to that mix? There is a big difference: Automation lets marketers move from mass marketing to 1:1 marketing. And that makes the marketing a lot more like part of the sales process than the marketing process. In the early stages of a considered purchase, it is not the person giving the information that makes the difference. It’s the personal touch.
That personal touch is what marketing automation is all about. Automation programs can think faster and at an individual level better than humans. Automation uses data and doesn’t overthink the “why” – it only knows the “what.” You downloaded this research or read this blog post? You have this title and live in which area of the world? Based on the data of all who have come before – and informed by the insights from both sales and marketing pros – the automation tool knows what to send you next.
Salespeople (or their marketing brethren) can pull someone out of the automation flow at any time, and for any reason, so there is little risk of losing control. The upside, on the other hand, is huge.
1. The Numbers Are in Your Favor.
It is well known that prospecting is a lot more expensive than retention – Forrester Research (2013) says it is six times more costly. Automation tools increase the number and value of leads that go to the sales team, allowing them to focus on the ones that are most likely to close. That is a more efficient use of talent and technology at all levels. Bulldog Solutions (2012) found that companies that invest in marketing automation solutions see 70 percent faster sales cycle times.
2. You Are Often Flying Blind.
You have no idea who most of your website visitors are. In fact, up to 97percent of your website visitors are unknown. Who are they? What are their needs? Where are they in the buying process? Sophisticated automation tools use visitor tracking to help you uncover this vital information by showing you who is visiting your site, how they got there, what company they work for, and what they’re viewing.
3. Forget Cold Calling – Prioritize.
Scoring tools give you a profile of the prospect based on demographics and behavior – both on your own site and across the Web. Warm up your outreach with knowledge that will resonate and breakthrough the clutter. Feedback from the sales team is essential here, as often your window of opportunity is small. Your scores must be finely tuned to offer the most value.
4. Shorten the Sales Cycle.
Effective sales people have perfected the well-timed nudge. They know when to send a friendly reminder, when to share relevant content, and when to listen to prospect response. Automation tools can nurture early-stage prospects more efficiently than a human, and at scale. That relieves the sales and marketing teams of a lot of manual messaging, and frees them to think of even better strategies to keep leads warm and engaged. Nurturing is also great at re-engaging prospects that have gone dark for whatever reason.
5. Upsell When It Matters.
Similarly, nurturing programs post sale can give the sales team a heads up when a customer has new challenges. Often, the online research or click on an email newsletter link comes well before a call to the salesperson.
Automation tools eliminate a lot of guesswork, but more importantly allow marketers to spend less time on production and more time coming up with smart campaigns that will attract and nurture more prospects. That is a benefit that goes directly to the sales and business bottom line.
What are your biggest sales qualification challenges? How is marketing automation helping you better connect with prospects? Please comment below or ping me with ideas for future columns.
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