Why marketing automation is a salesman’s best friend

We’ve discussed getting the sales team to embrace social media to generate business, but now let’s turn our attention to marketing automation. While traditionally associated with marketing (the clue’s in the name), these platforms are hugely powerful for assisting the sales team in lead generation, tracking, nurture and conversion.

Despite this, it can be difficult to get the sales team to embrace marketing automation platforms. But why, and what can be done about it?

A caveat before we go on – this is based on my experience as the marketing manager for a fast growth, sales-focussed SME. Some of the advice may be harder to apply in larger organisations due to the complexity of the set-up, but I’d be happy to discuss what would be possible!

Common misperceptions

The sales department, and other divisions for that matter, often share in some common misperceptions around marketing automation platforms. Like most misconceptions they’re unfounded, so in this post, I intend to put them to bed:

“Marketing automation platforms are just for marketing”

Admittedly, a lot of functionality within marketing automation platforms is primarily designed for marketers. Having said that, sales can make use of a lot of these tools too; social scheduling, automated workflows, segmentation and list generation – all time-saving and useful for lead management or prospecting.

“Working on a marketing automation platform will take up too much time”

Like most things in life, you must invest the effort to see return. The amount, however, is completely disproportionate to the benefits, because once a marketing automation platform is set up you’ll save significant amounts of time. The extent to which these platforms can assist in nurturing and converting leads is huge – it’s a complete no-brainer!

“It won’t give me all of the information I need to manage leads effectively”

One word: integrations. A good marketing automation platform will integrate with your website, your CRM and pull together information from advertising, email marketing, social interaction and all other efforts to give you a complete picture – a really good one will list what a prospect did before they became known to you, too.

“It won’t benefit me enough to invest effort”

Due to the above misperceptions, the conclusion often reached is that it’s just not worth the sales teams’ time. But it is, and as we’ve begun to highlight the benefits can be huge. Let’s talk about getting the sales team to embrace marketing automation.

How to get the sales team onboard

Get buy-in from the board

Support from key members of the business is crucial for any initiative to work. Take time explaining the benefits, discussing how much investment is required and what the results will be in terms that are meaningful – demonstrating ROI is also a winner.

Invest in training and support

A lot of marketing automation platforms come with access to a knowledge base, and/or an account manager to help you get the most out of the platform. Take full advantage of these resources, using videos to teach the basics and ad-hoc ‘Q&A’ sessions for more specific requirements – don’t forget to have regular follow-up sessions too.

Integrate key sales tools

The more they can see and do from the marketing automation platform, the more they’ll use it. Integrate your website and CRM but also look at integrating their calendar, emails, account management tools and anything else they require visibility of.

Make results tangible and visible

To keep them motivated, be sure to measure and report back on the success of their efforts. The reporting area of most marketing automation platforms is flexible and reports can be automated to land in people’s inboxes, so work out what it’s valuable to measure and configure reports accordingly. Why not make it fun and introduce a sales leaderboard? The most messages sent, the number of leads generated, the quickest conversion… whatever you think will keep the team interested.

What’s in this for marketing? The fact that the potential of tools you’ve put blood, sweat and tears into is being realised by the wider business. It also makes passing leads from marketing to sales easy and improves the chance of converting them – for me though, it’s more about the former.

Please feel free to like, comment on and share this content if you’ve found it helpful. If you’d like to discuss any of the above or want any recommendations around marketing automation platforms, then tweet me or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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