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Who Is The Beneficiary Of Sales And Marketing Automation?

By on Nov 10, 2011 2 Comments

I had the privilege of participating in a fantastic roundtable at Focus.com today. It was “A Sales View Of Marketing Automation,” with three of the smartest sales and marketing people I know: Alex Shootman, Chief Revenue Officer of Eloqua, Thor Johnson of Team Thor Marketing, and Carlos Hidalgo of The Annuitas Group. It was a great discussion, be sure to listen to the recorded version.

But it got me to thinking, there are endless discussion about sales and marketing technologies. There are constant debates on what do we get out of it. We want to make sure that sales and marketing gets value from these efforts. How do these tools make us more productive, more effective and more efficient? What’s the ROI or business case for the implementation of these tools?

These are certainly critical discussions. We have to make sure we are investing in the right technologies, that our sales and marketing people can leverage them, and that we get a return on our investment in these tools. But I wonder if we miss an opportunity when we think of these?

Isn’t the real beneficiary of sales and marketing automation the customer? It seems to me, these tools enable us to dramatically improve the quality of the customer experience. They enable us to transform our relationships and the customer engagement process. Rather than blasting them with meaningless drivel, we can tailor every communication, every interchange, every piece of content to be relevant, timely, meaningful, and impactful. Marketing automation tools enable us to reach out, providing content the customer wants, in the way they want it. We leverage the web to deliver deep information and rich experiences, when and where the customer wants it.

Sales automation tools enable us to go even further, sales people now do deep research, they can make sure that in that “last mile” they are engaging the customer in the most impactful ways possible. We can make the customer buying experience better, richer, and easier. These tools enable us to do things we have never imagined in creating higher quality customer engagement experiences.

Properly implemented, these tools enable us to create greater value–supplementing that we bring through our products, solutions, and sales engagement.

It seems the discussion of sales and marketing automation must start with the key beneficiary—the customer. How do we create a richer and more distinctive customer experience? How to we improve the quality of the customer engagement process? My sense is that if we use this as the starting point, not only will our implementation of these systems be better, but the value to sales and marketing is even richer. It seems we are leaving a large part of the business justification for these systems on the table, if we only look at sales and marketing as the beneficiaries.


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2 Responses to Who Is The Beneficiary Of Sales And Marketing Automation?

  1. Bob Thompson November 11, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

    David, I was really struck by this comment in your post

    Isn't the real beneficiary of sales and marketing automation the customer? It seems to me, these tools enable us to dramatically improve the quality of the customer experience. They enable us to transform our relationships and the customer engagement process.

    Perhaps this is how it should be, but I never hear sales/marketing automation talked about in terms of what’s good for the customer. Rather, the focus is on how to get more value from customers (and prospects). It’s just more inside-out “CRM” thinking and tools, although marketing vendors rarely use that label these days.

    Nothing wrong with this, we all want our businesses to succeed. It’s natural to want to see some benefit from any investment.

    But customers? They have their own interests, and in my experience it rarely if ever includes being “managed” in a marketing/sales funnel — which is the point of all these automation tools after all.

    There’s been a lot of debate about the future of sales recently, with the customer being more empowered and so on. And yet, the response that companies seem to be taking is an “arms race” to mine social media, automate processes and use analytic techniques.

    Again, all good things, I believe all companies should run their internal operation as efficiently as possible. But it’s still just a reaction to the customer. Nothing has really changed except the tools.

    It was these concerns that prompted me to write this article: B2B Marketers, Analyze This: How Do Prospects Score YOU on Their Experience?

  2. Dave Brock November 11, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    Great comment and article Bob. It’s interesting, as much as things change, they still stay the same. For years, people pay lip service to designing our product development, sales, customer service, marketing, etc, from the outside in, trying to be customer centric and focused.

    However, time after time, the discussions end up being inside out, the discussion about Sales 2.0 too often ends up being inside out.

    The funny thing, in my experience, the outside in approach is not only good business –from a customer focus view, but it’s good business from a business management, efficiency, effectiveness point of view.

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