This is an interesting question that I answered with some other top notch marketers for FOCUS here.
My answer? Yes, yes and yes….with a few “provesos and provisos.” (quote from a famous Disney movie – know which one?) Marketing Automation (MA) gives sales and marketing – for the first time- a measurable and quantifiable method for discussing the value of leads. And let’s not forget, sales wants LEADS – qualified leads. Before marketing automation, leads passed to sales from marketing were what I call “fuzzy leads” – this is kinda, sorta a lead – call it and see what you can find out. With ma and the lead scoring feature, leads now passed to sales are quantifiable and measurable across two elements – demographic data and online behavior. Teams can determine what constitutes the right demographic data (pulled from CRM or a form) and what constitutes the right on line behavior (such as visiting key web pages), score it and this defines a sales ready lead. Without this automation feature, you are really passing fuzzy leads. This ability to pass real quality leads to sales, helps improve the alignment between sales and marketing.
Another great way that MA helps align sales and marketing is the ability of a ma system to allow marketing to send out campaigns that have been customized for a single rep, a single territory or a single set of accounts and to have that email come out under the signature of the rep. When marketing goes to sales and says – “What can we do to help you meet YOUR quota” and they then design and launch specific campaigns that were co-developed this really helps align sales and marketing. In addition, when a sales rep receives a live alert in email, in CRM or on their cell phone that defines a hot lead, this is HOT for sales.
Bringing in a ma system also changes other key aspects of the sales and marketing relationship. It changes the focus of marketing from traditional marketing to revenue marketing. Many marketers are now responsible and are comped based on revenue metrics such as contribution to pipeline and conversion of lead to opportunity. With this new focus, marketers are speaking the language of sales and this really helps alignment. When a variable compensation based on any of these revenue metrics are added to the mix, you will typically see a major change in sales and marketing alignment. Listen to this WRMR interview for a great example of how the Brainshark marketing team, using marketing automation, contributes 75% of the sales pipeline.
At the end of the day, ma is a piece of technology. What we see in organizations which have bought, implemented and optimized ma to impact revenue is a major re-alignment of sales and marketing. As a matter of fact, the number one success factor to marketing achieving revenue impact is the quality of the relationship with sales. In my opinion and having observed many, many companies in this situation, the people and process part of the equation are by far the most important. MA is the enabler – finally.