Marketing automation has a name problem & it's costing sales

Ed Marsh | Feb 10, 2016


Marketing has ZERO inherent value

I'm sure that assertion immediately raised some hackles, but for the sake of marketing is meaningless. There may be some art/entertainment value occasionally (e.g. Budweiser Clydesdales) but generally the value of marketing is in its ability to drive revenue. Period.

And by extension, any expense that can't be correlated to its revenue impact is simply an expense - not the fancy "investment" that's pitched. Of course not every expense is bad or inappropriate, but we've got to have an honest conversation for it to be a productive one.

Technology is no exception. And technology which enables the marketing function should be subject to the same scrutiny.

Regrettably, though, some powerful technology is wasted. Marketing Automation is a suite of tools which has enormous potential to drive revenue well beyond the marketing silo. Yet, because of constraints implicit in its "marketing" moniker the value is almost invariably squandered!

What a pity - the name itself is so pregnant with implications that the power as a sales & top line growth tool is often overlooked because of the artificial construct of separate marketing & sales functions.

How poor is B2B sales & marketing alignment?

Only 9 percent of content created in enterprise marketing departments is viewed more than five times by the sales department, according to Docurated's latest State of Sales Enablement report....But there is a huge divide between the marketing and sales departments — and the sales team is basically ignoring content marketing produces on its behalf...neither sales nor marketing appear to understand what the other is is creating content...sales often has little understanding of the content that exists or where to find it - from David Rowe's (@Druadh20) article Sales to Marketing: Keep Your Crappy Content
In fact (stretch analogy here, but I love this video and want to use it!) it's often brute force against technology!
The real problem is that the only people who see the line - whether it's the edge of the grass or the delineation between sales & marketing - are those inside the organization. The visitors, prospects and customers see the continuum of their experience.
To prospects, good alignment is expected, transparent and irrelevant. Poor alignment is an annoyance that sends them back into the shadows of the internet to find another vendor.

Simple solution - forget the name and use it differently

Before we start spinning our wheels (get it?) worried about overcoming enormously challenging organizational constraints, let's just sidestep that morass and instead fix the problem.
OK, maybe it's not an entire fix, but it's a huge step.
When people talk about sales and marketing alignment what they really mean is mutual productivity and success. Then they lose sight of the goal and instead focus on the format of the collaboration. Let's leave that for the industrial psychologists to work on for the next 30 years (my guess is they'll be no closer to solving the CRM adoption problem by then) and let's build on existing tools in a creative way.
"Marketing automation" typically includes capabilities to run workflows, with logic, to automatically take steps based on visitor & prospect behavior. Normally these are focused on interacting with the prospect - but there's no reason the workflows can't automate emails and/or text messages to sales reps at critical moments with helpful insights. Instead of bluster and angst about information that's collected and never used, if marketing would start to proactively share info with reps to let them sell more effectively everyone would win.
Let's take one really basic example - Docurated's report mentioned above. Sales reps don't know what content is available; what to use when; or where to find it. Yet marketing has some pretty good insight based on visitor behaviors, form submissions, content viewed, etc. Marketing probably knows:
  • persona
  • stage of buying journey
  • main problems/challenges
  • how active they are in their research
  • how soon they're likely to buy

From that marketing can also predict:

  • next steps
  • other buying team influences
  • perceived barriers
  • decision criteria

And from that knows which content would be appropriate for that prospect at that time.

So why do they leave sales to flounder and guess? (Not to mention then complain that the content they create isn't used....) Marketing could automatically:

  • generate a notification for the sales rep that outlines what they've inferred about the prospect
  • predict what they think next steps are
  • suggest specific content (include links so there's no question) they think will help advance the project AND build credibility for the sales rep
  • project the questions and hesitations the prospect may have and include questions that can help the rep to elicit those issues and preempt them
  • even link them to a prepopulated email template that the rep can easily edit and send which provides the key content to the prospect - even in a format which let's the rep see which pages the prospect viewed for how long each!

And all of this can be achieved with the tools many companies already have in place....that are kept close to the vest for marketing.

What's up with that!!??

Use production as a model

When factory automation is done right it contributes to quality and productivity allowing the unmatched human computing power and dexterity to be channeled where it most makes a difference. Marketing automation should be no different. Wondering how to adapt this powerful tool to actually improve sales (and boost alignment and customer satisfaction at the same time?) Want more examples like the one above? Download our free eBook - Turning Marketing Automation into a Powerful Sales Tool.
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