What Should Sales Expect From Marketing Automation?


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It’s pretty obvious at this point, “marketing” automation isn’t just for marketing – it’s a tool for optimizing the path to revenue. From a best practice standpoint Gleanster has been measuring the success of marketing automation investments against a commitment from marketing AND sales for years. I sound like a parrot with my advisory clients sometimes. “You don’t have a marketing problem. You don’t have a sales problem. You have a revenue problem that both functions have to solve together.” Organizations that run disconnected marketing and sales teams/processes (even when successful) are missing the boat.


Join me for a webinar on 5/28 where I will explore “What Sales Leaders Should Really Expect from Marketing Automation.” Register here.


But research tells us marketing automation isn’t necessarily the linchpin of success. In fact about three out of ten Top Performing organizations don’t even leverage marketing automation yet. It’s possible to be successful without marketing automation, but the data suggests it’s also a heck of a lot easier when it’s embraced by both marketing and sales. Senior leadership can buy into the critical need to optimize the lead-to-sale process internally, but that doesn’t mean everyone buys into the most efficient way to get there. The truth is, sales leaders remain resistant and are cautious about what marketing automation is really going to accomplish.

That’s understandable. Sales leaders go to great lengths to finely tune the process and trim the fat in sales operations. No matter what, marketing automation will be a slightly disruptive force internally. It’s going to change some sales processes. It’s likely going to take some tweaking. It might even shine some light on areas where marketing and sales are falling short. Sales leaders remain reluctant because it sort of seems like tossing a wrench into a finely tuned engine. Sure, eventually you’ll get it fixed and working better than it was before, but that eventually is cause for concern because your sales targets don’t disappear while you sort out the details – they increase!

So what kinds of things should sales really expect from marketing automation? I’ll share two here, but for the whole story you’ll have to join the webinar next week.

According to Gleanster Research, Top Performing organizations reported first year improvement in multiple sales metrics as a result of marketing automation. Keep in mind that these organizations are also more likely to support all the components of change (people, process, technology) in the investment. Don’t expect to flip a switch and watch the benefits roll in. But if you do it right, you can expect:

Double the bid-to-win ratio for the top 20% highest performing sales reps as a result of marketing automation.

If they used to close 2 out of 10 deals per period, they will close an average of 4 out of 10 qualified and prioritized deals within a year of investing in marketing automation (possibly more). According to research 68% of All Other organizations are passing unqualified leads to sales – which means sales has to search for the needles in the haystack. Narrowing it down to the top 20% of highest performing reps might be a more detailed stat than you are used to. But for instant performance gains you’re going to need to turn to your best reps to measure the success of marketing automation. That’s because they get it. You should be optimizing your lead scoring criteria through feedback with highest performing reps ONLY. This ensures that marketing is developing lead nurturing materials that hunt and qualify leads based on this criteria.

Automated lead alerts and sales qualification inside of CRM is like a shot of espresso (and a splash of tequila) for good sales reps. Now multiply those additional closed deals by the average deal size and aggregate it across your best performing reps and you’ve got a recipe for measuring the anticipated return from marketing automation.

Who's ready to take on the world? Tsshhh targets...

Who’s ready to take on the world? Tsshhh targets…

82% of sales leaders report “significant improvement” in lead quality within the first year of investing in marketing automation and 76% report a “significant decrease” in lead quantity. 100% of these respondents reported an average of 1.5x higher revenue year-over-year.

Marketing accountability can be a very frustrating reality for sales leaders. Here you are in the meat grinder week after week tied to a metric and marketing is over there talking about colors and campaigns that for some reason never seem to translate into killer leads for sales. By nature, marketing automation systems are accountability engines… for marketing. They are a measure of the quantity of quality leads marketing is generating. That sounds a lot like measuring the volume of deals that are closing in sales. What’s more, marketers want to help, and they know it’s their job to feed qualified opportunities to sales, but it’s a difficult job. Marketing automation is sort of like a CRM for marketing. It’s going to create a record of all the leads that are generated, whether or not they meet the specific lead scoring criteria sales leaders determine are most appropriate, and if those leads turned to revenue. It’s also going to provide structure around what works across all the different communication channels. You can’t really do that effectively with multiple disparate marketing tools, so marketing has to rely on intangible metrics without marketing automation. So if your major concern as a VP of Sales is “Marketing keeps giving me garbage,” the only way you are going to solve that is with a marketing automation tool.

The beauty of it all is marketing budget will usually pay for the tool. All you have to do is be a part of the solution. Also, let’s be honest, sometimes sales leaders don’t really know what’s working in sales or why. Sometimes the pieces come together and it’s magic. Some sales leaders are reluctant to invest in marketing automation because when marketing does come and ask about lead criteria they may not have a good answer. No worries. Use your customer data to define lead criteria. It’s the job of sales operations to analyze the data and look for trends or segments you can target at the top of the funnel. This is what you feed to marketing; then you can hold marketing accountable for bringing sales opportunities that have the best chance of closing and demonstrating a measurable return on marketing automation.


These are just the tip of the iceberg.  We’ve got some awesome stats to measure the impact of marketing automation on sales performance.  If you’re curious how the rest of this conversation pans out, you should join me next Wednesday for the “What Sales Leaders Should Really Expect from Marketing Automation” webinar.  Register here.  Hope to see you there.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ian Michiels
Ian Michiels is a Principal & CEO at Gleanster Research, a globally known IT Market Research firm covering marketing, sales, voice of the customer, and BI. Michiels is a seasoned analyst, consultant, and speaker responsible for over 350 published analyst reports. He maintains ongoing relationships with hundreds of software executives each year and surveys tens of thousands of industry professionals to keep a finger on the pulse of the market. Michiels has also worked with some of the world's biggest brands including Nike, Sears Holdings, Wells Fargo, Franklin Templeton, and Ceasars.


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