Friends and foes: using sales to help fail-proof your marketing automation

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By successfully joining forces with the sales team, marketers can take better advantage of marketing automation platform technology for more efficient results.

Marketing automation is a significant investment in time, money, and training. For companies that are venturing into their first significant mar-tech project, it’s important to understand the pitfalls that can occur.

As with any enterprise technology project, the failure points are many and can be difficult to identify early on in order to remedy. They can include a number of things and can often spiral out of the control for the marketing project lead.

For example, most marketing automation implementations involve some level of customer relationship management (CRM) integration. Few marketers have ever been actively involved in a significant technology integration project before, and will oftentimes assume things are easier than they really are. I’ve personally seen a large number of projects stall because marketing and IT simply don’t know how to communicate with each other.

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This ultimately causes the marketing automation platform (MAP) and CRM integration to drag on in the most critical phase of an implementation.

Aside from specific pitfalls, such as CRM integration, general project malaise can set in when expectations for tangible performance metrics like revenue and lead volume are set high by marketing.

As marketers, we tend to get very excited about the implementation of a new technology. It’s in our DNA. From the ground level, marketers may begin enjoying tangible benefits very shortly after initial implementation. But while a new landing page or trigger-based email marketing campaign is exciting for a campaign manager, it may not excite the chief executive officer, chief financial officer, or vice president of sales.

Your unlikely ally: the sales team

The sales team is revered in most organizations as revenue drivers. They can be powerful within the organization because of the role they play in communicating and championing the marketing automation project. Their voice carries a lot of weight.

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Knowing there can be some inherent mistrust between marketing and sales, here are some important steps you need to take in getting sales on your side and getting them to cheer on your MAP project:

1. Have a sales-focused kickoff meeting

Invite the sales team to a kickoff meeting that will explain the MAP, how it will be used to generate leads, and the type of information it will provide. Be sure to communicate from the perspective of how the MAP will help them sell.

2. Demo information available in the CRM

Have a demo or prototype ready that will show exactly where in the CRM information from the MAP will be housed along with a detail rational of the logical ways sales can use the information (web-tracking data) on a daily basis.

3. Illustrate and agree on the workflow

Clearly document the process for lead capture, assignment, and nurturing. Gain buy-in from sales on the process and let them know how to remarket leads that go stale.

4. Perform regular lead status meetings

At least for the first few months, you should meet with key members of the sales team to review the quality and quantity of leads coming in. Discuss leads that have converted to opportunities to understand their characteristics and how to drive more. Once all are comfortable with the process and output, you can meet on a monthly or quarterly basis to discuss.

5. Solicit advice from sales

Based on their in-the-field knowledge of who the best leads are and why, sales is a great resource to understand why some leads are more successful than others at progressing through the funnel. They can help you define critical buyer personas and also identify which marketing assets may perform best in nurture programs. Getting advice from sales at this level puts skin in the game for them and creates some mutual accountability for the project.

To sum up

At the end of the day, having sales champion your MAP project can fail-proof your implementation for one key reason. As marketers, sales needs to like what you are doing and see value in the leads and information that come along with them. If you help them, then they can help you.

Homepage and article images via Flickr.

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