Marketing automation can enhance sales

Every company purchasing agent is familiar with the term “marketing automation,” but is it an effective strategy that will attract new customers? Tim Asimos at Spur, a blog produced by Circle Studios, recently said evidence is pointing in that direction. A Frost and Sullivan report projected that the global software revenues generated annually will top $1.9 billion by the year 2020. That clearly shows that marketing automation will continue to be implemented by businesses around the world.

Bridging the marketing/sales gap

Marketing automation was designed so that sales and marketing teams were able to understand what each group was doing. Now, as buyer, business, sales and marketing models have changed, closed-loop communication and more effective alignment have become critical to a successful operation, Asimos wrote. Deploying a marketing automation system can open communication and transparency between sales and marketing departments which, in turn, can achieve more productivity and higher revenue generation. Sirius Decisions conducted a survey that showed that B2B groups with sales and marketing units working closely together experienced 24 percent faster revenue growth and a 27 percent faster profit growth during a three-year timeframe.

Marketing and sales competition a thing of the past?

Traditionally, marketing and sales departments have been at odds over which department is contributing more to the bottom line, leading to departmental dysfunction. Automation allows unprecedented internal alignment between both departments. Instead of working in separate silos the company now has a unified marketing and sales front that looks good to prospective customers. This can improve customer loyalty in a big way, explained Asimos.

Real-time sales data

There are many ways that automation can help unify marketing and sales, but the most important is how sales and development teams can receive real-time data on who is coming to the company website, what products they’re looking at and what information and content they are viewing and downloading. Internet lead generation is critical, and having this information can help the sales staff personalize their pitches to prospects and shorten the sales cycle considerably, said Asimos.

Qualify the sales leads

Nothing upsets a sales team more than having leads passed to them who are unqualified. Automation allows leads and prospects to be thoroughly vetted and nurtured until they pass an internal measuring template and are ready to meet the sales team. The key to making this work is to ensure the sales and marketing departments have agreed on what criteria denotes a sales​-qualified lead. Once that occurs, a move to a fully automated marketing process is just a few steps away.

Technical compatibility

Asimos’ article said that marketing automation integrates nicely with other platforms, including customer relations management software. This is where the ultimate alignment between marketing and sales takes place. Sales and development staffers are able to access lead information and preferences right inside their platform consoles. Hiral Jasani of Frost and Sullivan explained that companies are getting wiser when it comes to their marketing and sales models.

“Businesses have realized the value of proactively engaging with their customers by leveraging intelligence generated in the marketing automation tool,” said Jasani. “Additionally, measuring the ROI on marketing campaigns across multiple channels is an essential function of today’s marketers as customer interactions span several devices and media. Smarter companies that want to take charge of their lead generation and lead nurturing efforts across all relevant channels are increasingly using MAS for a strong competitive edge in the market.”

An example of how marketing automation works to benefit companies is a report from Allison Banko at Marketing Sherpa. Banko looked at a North American company called Centrics IT and how it implemented a system for all its Internet marketing and other department initiatives in 2010. Managers working internally were able to unify the sales and development teams through training and upper management support so every employee embraced the new system. Before the software was deployed, Banko wrote, there wasn’t much in the way of interaction between departments and there was some major disconnect at high levels within the teams. Since the system was implemented, leads are automatically generated and sent to the right places – no more manual transfers – and for the first three quarters of 2013 the company generated $1.5 million in revenue as a direct result of their new marketing automation systems.

For businesses looking to get more out of their marketing and sales teams, Asimos suggested that executives get past the hype of marketing automation and look into the vast benefits it could bring to their operation. Thinking beyond the cost and seeing the benefits that automation can bring in terms of new revenue generation and increased inter-departmental efficiency can make the difference between a profitable annual return or a negative bottom line and dysfunctional sales and marketing departments.