A marketing automation affair: when marketing met sales

The timeless story of where one core business function synergised with another and it’s all thanks to marketing automation.

Prologue

Okay let’s start with some scene setting. It’s Winter 2016/17 in the City of London and amongst the hustle and bustle of The Square Mile a trio of VP’s gather in Boisdale of Canary Wharf. The city dwellers share anecdotes of recent successes and failures as they strive for greater market share in their respected firms.

Perplexed by the output from his marketing department one grained leather shoe wearing Wharfonite, we’ll call him Vince, professes that the blue sky thinkers in his company just don’t deliver enough sales-ready leads. VP number 2, let’s go with Michelle, jibes back with a stab at sales. The construct of which denoted their inability to follow up on hot leads quickly. All sounding a bit too familiar right?

Enter VP numero 3. Our knight in shining armour. The Indie to our Raiders of the Lost Ark. The nameless protagonist steps in with a raise of both brows and proceeds to explain how his peers can overcome their gripes and enable the inevitable meteoric growth of their firms with something we call ‘marketing – sales alignment.’

“You my friends shall live in anguish no more. For I will show you the way to optimal lead generation efficiency.”

Joined-up thinking

Regardless of what side you the fence you sit on, be it marketing or sales, you’re working to one core objective. Generate and close new business. Sure there is a natural rivalry between both departments in any company but a bit of competition is healthy right?

You need to foster a culture of alignment through both systems and human resource to be effective. By disseminating a new attitude of mar-sales cohesion, the business is able to produce creative acquisition programs that resonate and close leads at exactly the right time.

If you don’t have the systems in place already this should be addressed first and foremost. To successfully implement marketing-sales alignment your business needs two highly sophisticated tools. A B2B marketing automation and a customer relationship management  (CRM) platform. Sed platforms should integrate seamlessly for the best results.

Marketing automation

A B2B marketing automation platform allows marketing teams to plan and execute robust digital programs through one central canvas. Multiple marketing channels (email, social, PPC etc) can be leveraged to accelerate pipeline growth. The ultimate aim with marketing automation is to generate top-quality leads for sales to follow up on. This is achieved by automating digital communications and building out a profile of actionable information on your targets.

Customer relationship management (CRM)

A sophisticated CRM with built-in automation allows your sales team to convert leads smarter. The cloud-based software is simple to use and can be configured to your specific needs. Many platforms also have a smartphone allowing your fields sales teams to follow up on new leads while out on the road.

Once you have both tools primed and integrated suitably for your business you have the foundation for marketing-sales alignment. But this isn’t the time to put your feet up.

Quality is key

Without an aligned sales and marketing function your business is limiting it’s potential. First and foremost it’s commonplace for sales and marketing to use entirely different terminology for assets and objects within their process. This may seem trivial but if both functions aren’t event speaking the lingo, how can they be expected to deliver results.

Moving on from terminology, everyone seems to have a different definition for a quality lead. There is often a big difference between a marketing-qualified and a sales-ready lead. When the waters are muddied by unclear definitions the outcome is always the same. Sales end up with large quantities of lead that they don’t want. This shoddy communication does no good for the rivalry between marketing and sales.

It’s vital that the core objectives from each department are aligned. Clearly, sales and marketing will work towards separate KPIs to a micro level but there but also be common goals. Achieving these goals will unite both functions and motivate them to deliver for each other. It’s a simple concept but is so often missed.

The virtues of getting it right

When marketing and sales alignment is achieved the business prospers. There are many benefits of establishing this synergy. Achieving a single view of the customer is often seen as the nirvana for all responsible for a company’s success. It’s difficult to achieve but when systems and teams are talking coherently, a total view of the customer will significantly boost sales results.

With leads being nurtured with automation the length of a sales cycle is significantly reduced. By serving up informative content and communications through different stages in the buyer decision-making process the prospect is more likely to convert sooner.

Hiring and maintaining a sales floor is expensive. You need that team to be yielding big results to justify the cost. With marketing-sales alignment comes a much more productive sales team. They’ll now be able to prioritise the low hanging ‘hot leads’ rather than wasting time on call calls. What’s more, sales will be armed with powerful prospect insights based on the information gathered through a nurturing program and the prospects’ engagement.

Treat marketing-sales alignment as a core business program

So there you have it. VP number 3 is your archetypal poster boy for success in the modern business. In such a competitive landscape it’s crucial that your marketing and sales functions are truly aligned. And this isn’t just a flash in the pan conceptual notion to shout about at board meetings. To get this right it needs to be well thought out and project managed in the same way as any other core business initiative.

Furthermore, there is a requirement to have robust systems in place to be effective. Pardot (marketing automation) and Salesforce (CRM) are both best-in-class systems with native integration that help thousands of firms worldwide to convert leads into new business.

With good planning, communication and smart implementation the marketing – sales love story has a happy ending. All VP’s concerned are able drive their businesses forward with gusto and improved return on investment. Two teams united by a common purpose. This all bodes well for a harmonious Christmas party.

Let’s close with a great video from Salesforce outlining how marketing and sales alignment can improve your business.

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