Closing new accounts in today’s buying landscape requires a close relationship between sales and marketing. And technological tools are key to making that new alliance effective.
Today’s prospects actively research and evaluate products and services before ever talking to a sales rep, and they tend to respond only to messages that correspond with their specific preferences. This means that marketing messages and sales outreach efforts must be more tailored and targeted than ever before.
Marketing automation tools allow marketers to nurture leads using messaging that’s tailored to prospects and their phase in the purchase process, as well as provide sales teams with the information they need to close deals.
Yet the usefulness of these programs in aligning marketing and sales for maximum performance isn’t necessarily well known. A sales rep recently asked me, “Why would we put our sales contacts into the marketing automation platform when they’re already in our own sales platform?”
In answer to that question, here are a few important ways that marketing automation software, like Marketo and Eloqua for example, can move leads forward in the buying process and provide sales reps with the information they need to close more deals faster:
- Tracking Engagement & Tailoring Content Takes the “Cold” Out of Cold Calls: By using insights gleaned from observing prospects’ engagement with marketing and sales emails, as well as web pages and downloadable assets, marketers can tailor content to prospects’ unique preferences. This means that by the time sales reaches out, prospects are aware of the brand and its offering and have some idea of how they’re relevant to them. Tracking engagement also enables sales to reach out at the right time – when a prospect has demonstrated readiness. (For instance, if a prospective real estate buyer has clicked on floor plans for a specific residential unit, instead of continuing to send him standard drip emails, a sales rep could reach out with a tour invitation.)
- Tracking Insights Make Sales Calls More Effective: The ability to use forms and trackable links to gather information about a lead before even picking up the phone, and to monitor prospects’ engagement with content over time, allows sales reps to tailor conversations and invitations to each prospect. Knowing which information captured people’s attention, and even the frequency and duration of their visits to the company website, makes sales reps more credible and better able to address the ways in which a product solves the prospect’s specific problem. Syncing marketing automation software with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools, such as Salesforce.com, NetSuite or SugarCRM, makes this especially seamless.
- Engagement Insights & Strategic Nurturing Pave the Way for Future Sales: As marketers learn more about certain prospects by tracking engagement, they should continue to serve users with content that’s relevant to their individual preferences and phases in the purchase process. Some people may remain in the awareness phase for months or even years until some incident triggers them to act, and when it does, they’re educated about the product and know how it can serve their needs. Strategic lead nurturing also enables companies to serve current clients and customers with information and news they can share with friends or colleagues as brand ambassadors. Ongoing campaigns can also be used to introduce current clients and customers to new product or service lines. In all three scenarios, tailored content based on prospects’ prior engagement and current preferences can drive sales and revenue.
Marketing automation, used strategically, helps to accelerate leads through the sales funnel and make sales reps more effective while saving them time and effort. So when you start planning your next marketing campaign, include your sales team in strategy and planning sessions. That way, from day one you can develop a unified approach to gathering information and moving leads through the purchase process with meaningful content and conversations.
Marketing automation, used strategically, helps to accelerate leads through the sales funnel and make sales reps more effective while saving them time and effort.
About the Author
Email/Marketing Automation Specialist
Holly specializes in using data to build and optimize effective and engaging email campaigns.