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31 May 2018

How can sales and marketing both benefit from marketing automation?

Today’s sales landscape has changed. There are more choices and more information in the current online and mobile world than ever. Buyers wait longer before contacting a seller – if they do so at all. By the time they get in touch, they have already defined their needs, finished their research, talked to other product users and started comparing prices. As a result, the sales cycle is no longer a traditional funnel, but a complex process with branching and overlapping paths.

Yet many of the tensions between marketing and sales teams still stem from breakdowns in the lead management process. Marketing blames sales that they never follow up on the marketing qualified leads they receive. And sales blames marketing that the leads they send aren’t qualitative: either they aren’t a good fit for the sales objectives or they aren’t ready to buy yet. The two teams will only work well together if they pursue the same goals and have access to the same actionable information.

To synergize a lead management process that works for both teams, it’s essential to build an all-in-one marketing and selling tool. In this article, we show you how the integration of marketing automation and CRM has a tremendous impact on your marketing and sales operations. 

CRM and marketing automation: complements, not competitors

With the possibility to access so much information early in the buying process, buyers conduct their own research and re-evaluate their choices constantly. They no longer tell companies what they need to complete their research process. Instead they expect businesses to anticipate those needs and offer the relevant, personalized content they’re looking for – right when they need it.

Today’s sophisticated and more demanding customers clearly expect to be engaged in alternative, meaningful ways. But for many organizations, it remains unclear how they should respond and how sales reps should find the time to build a new approach.

We show you how a complete marketing and sales ecosystem, combining marketing automation and CRM, unlocks new functionalities. It allows you to track and analyze each touchpoint with a prospect, from the moment of lead generation to the close of a sale.

Integration of marketing automation and CRM.

Both CRM and marketing automation systems handle leads, contacts and companies. But where does one start and the other stop? A marketing automation system allows you to follow a prospect’s “top of the funnel” activities: when they visit your website, fill out a form or open and click in an email. In other words, marketing automation helps to foster leads and get them ready for the sales team.

From there, the lead enters your CRM software, catering to your “bottom of the funnel” leads, turning a qualified sales lead into an official customer. CRMs track all of your customer records, purchases and interactions to maintain an active relationship with that client.

With marketing automation working in tandem with your CRM, you create a tool capable of streamlining troublesome sales and marketing tasks.

Combining marketing automation and CRM results in a complete marketing and sales ecosystem.

SALES BENEFIT 1: Adding marketing automation to your CRM enables you to go beyond basic demographic information and delve into detailed behavioral tracking.

Which pages are your prospects visiting? What types of content are they interested in? Where are they in the buying cycle? Prospect activities such as downloading files or clicking on email links provide sales reps with the insights they need. They can then take the conversation from, “Hey, I just wanted to touchbase” to, “I noticed your interest in our content. Do you have any questions or want to talk further?”

This synergy keeps sales and marketing on the same page, increases the efficiency of the lead management process and eliminates kinks in the sales funnel that might cause leads to drop out of the sales process entirely.

SALES BENEFIT 2: With marketing automation, you will receive real-time alerts enabling you to “strike while the iron is hot” instead of wasting time chasing down dead ends.

In addition to prospects’ activity history, marketing automation tools allow you to send real-time alerts to sales whenever a prospect is active on your site or performs a specific action, such as downloading a piece of content or submitting a form. By defining which interactions are decisive in the sales process, marketing can set up real-time alerts in the marketing automation tool, notifying sales when one of those interactions occur.

Sales reps are then alerted when immediate action is required. At once, they are armed with the information they need to reach out to the individual prospect with a personalized sales message. For example: when a customer clicks on a banner for a loan simulation, a task to follow up the lead is passed on to the call center once the lead finishes the simulation and leaves his contact details.

SALES BENEFIT 3: Lead nurturing serves as an unobtrusive way to introduce prospects to the sales rep they are linked with. Once a prospect is ready to talk to sales, a foundation of trust has already been built.

Lead nurturing has surged to the forefront of marketing and sales strategies due to its ability to ensure buyers get the information they need, when they need it. Using lead nurturing, marketers can automatically send valuable content to leads over time, nurturing them to a sales-ready state. At the same time, it prevents sales reps from wasting time on leads who aren’t ready to buy yet. Moreover, it reduces the amount of (follow-up) work for sales, by making the automated communications appear as though emails are personalized, one-to-one messages sent by each sales rep. Automated messages can even be triggered by an update in the CRM system introduced by the sales rep.

SALES BENEFIT 4: Collect lead information in one central interface enhancing targeting and personalization to tailor conversations to the needs of each individual prospect.

The benefits of targeting and personalization apply to your sales team as much as it does to marketing. With segmentation, marketers can target messages to specific segments of their database (product interest, location or job title), providing a more personalized selling experience for their prospects. Sales emails can even be personalized with specific signatures, so they appear to be one-to-one communications from a sales rep.

Integrating the two systems allows you to sync information bidirectionally, meaning a record update in your CRM will automatically be pushed to your marketing automation system and vice versa. This “single source of truth” helps to create a single sales, marketing, and engagement plan for the entire lifecycle of the customer. Consequently, your sales reps can see everything they need to know without leaving their CRM to tailor their conversations to the needs of each individual prospect.

Tools, processes and people: the 3 pillars of success

Although the integration of marketing automation and CRM systems benefit both sales and marketing, it will not solve all clashes between both parties. As they say in Dutch: “good agreements make good friends”. As such, clearly defined processes and common objectives or Service Level Agreements are essential.

  • The definitions of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs) should be co-created by sales and marketing. Everyone should have the same understanding of what they mean.
  • Both marketing and sales should agree on the number of marketing qualified leads marketing has to pass on to sales. It’s then up to marketing to fill, nurture and manage the funnel. For example: the marketing team commits to gather 800 MQLs. They count on attracting 6.000 prospects via campaigns to hit their final target.
  • Sales should commit to follow up on those leads and strive towards a specific amount of deals won. The number of closed deals is the result of the sales objective “conversion rate”. Following the previous example: with a committed conversion rate of 1/8, sales aims for 100 closed deals.

Last but not least, you should look for the right people for the job. In our next article, we highlight the key roles you need in your team to turn your marketing automation project into a success.

In the meantime, are you interested in exploring the principles of marketing automation?


Want to tackle more marketing automation challenges?

Which profiles should you gather for marketing automation? What if you're only using marketing automation to send out emails? Which approach helps you to avoid sending too many emails to the same recipients? How can you improve the use of your tool by prioritizing features

Sign up for our complete article series and learn how to overcome 4 other common marketing automation hurdles. 



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