Chances are you’ve heard a lot of people talking about the benefits of sales and marketing automation strategies. It’s often presented as a technological wonder that frees up staff time, improves customer loyalty, boosts sales, and streamlines operations.
All these promises are true. Or least they can be… But only if you understand what automation actually is, why it works, and how to use it effectively. Unfortunately, a lot of articles about sales and marketing automation tend to leave their readers hanging at this point.
Regarding sales and marketing automation, what are the most practical and strategic considerations? And what are the biggest misconceptions? Can your company do anything to avoid the most common pitfalls and risks? These questions are important, and the answers aren’t always obvious.
Let’s look at five sales and marketing automation strategies that can help your business get truly meaningful results…
A lot of institutional inertia exists in the business world, particularly regarding sales and marketing. Even when presented with a new way of doing things that is objectively faster, easier, and more cost-effective, most people will do everything they can to stay with the system they already know. But trying to maintain the status quo by sticking to these old, outdated workflows isn’t just stubbornness; it’s self-sabotage.
To overcome this inertia, your company has to fully commit to its automation strategy. In other words, you have to:
The goals here are to create a sales and marketing workflow that’s as smooth as possible, and use the right tools to identify and remove any choke points along the way.
One of the most powerful aspects of marketing automation is the ability to track the interests, preferences, and purchasing habits of individual customers. Automation allows a company to create genuinely personalized messages, such as special offers for products that customers have already shown interest in. When done correctly, this kind of customer engagement can result in exceptionally high conversion rates.
Unfortunately, some companies just don’t understand personalization. They think this practice is as simple as pulling the customer’s first name from the CRM, sending that person an email, and offering him or her a coupon code for a product that sells well to other people who are the same gender and in the same age range. But this tactic isn’t personal; it’s just well-segmented junk mail.
If you want your personalization campaigns to start producing great results, you have to get personal. Use real customer data (e.g., items in saved or abandoned shopping carts) to deliver marketing content that your customers will actually use and will deliver real value to them.
In the online era, identifying and connecting with potential customers has become a serious challenge. According to some estimates, it now takes an average of 18 calls to get one response from a prospect. If your sales reps are going to invest that much time in initiating the sales process, they need to have the best customer intelligence possible. In other words, they need to pre-qualify prospects and automatically collect every scrap of publicly available information about them.
Each step of the prospecting process needs to be thoroughly examined for potential automation. If something can be handled by the CRM, a plugin, or a third-party service, it needs to at least be given serious consideration. Obviously, you can’t completely automate every stage. Yet, it’s possible to dramatically reduce the amount of time your sales reps spend on thankless, boring tasks that do little to improve their performance numbers.
Salespeople love the idea of building a personal relationship with each customer, starting with the very first interaction. This notion can even extend to email interactions with prospects. For instance, they write unique responses to every query in the hopes of forging a meaningful connection between the buyer and seller. But while that tactic is a nice sentiment, it also can be a complete waste of time.
Consider the efficiency of a simple drip campaign. A lead is collected from the website or landing page, then automatically sorted by the marketing-automation software into the most fitting segment. As each email in the sequence goes out, the system tracks basic engagement data (e.g., open rates, content marketing downloads, and CTA clicks).
The prospects do all the work, so they essentially qualify themselves in the process. By the time an actual sales rep enters the conversation, he or she has all the prospect data necessary to win the sale. But up until that point, the rep doesn’t need to be involved at all. It may be less personal, but it’s also significantly more effective.
Before the invention of marketing automation, there was no such thing as a reliable marketing report. It was all guesswork and speculation. Sales reports were even worse. If you wanted to know if a given deal was moving forward, your best option was to ask the sales rep how he or she felt about it. But realistically, feelings are always weak data.
Today, sales and marketing automation tools allow companies to have real visibility into their pipelines. Marketing managers can see exactly which channels are delivering leads, and this feature allows them to optimize every detail and improve conversions. Sales managers can see exactly how far along each deal is, which allows them to accurately predict the timing and value of each one.
This level of insight makes it possible to create accurate long-term strategies. Simultaneously, it provides managers with the tools to fine-tune the performances of teams (or even individual reps).
That’s how this tool is supposed to work, at least. But if you don’t properly design and implement your automation workflows, sales and marketing reports will be more-or-less useless. Their insights will be flawed and misleading. This makes it that much more difficult to create an accurate long-term plan. If your reports aren’t delivering useful insights, you have a deeper problem in your CRM.
To learn more about sales and marketing automation strategies and how they can transform your company’s results, contact Faye for a free consultation.