It used to be that the CMO perpetually had his head on the chopping block while the executive running sales had a little more confidence in his or her tenure with a company. Now, fast-forward 10 years, and the tables have turned: the average tenure of CMOs is 60 months, according to Forrester, but now the average lifespan of a sales leader is between 24 and 32 months, says SellingPower Magazine.
What’s changed? In the past, sales leaders have been able to justify their existence with revenue numbers, while CMOs had to speak in broad, aspirational terms with few metrics to back them up. Now, though, the age of marketing automation has given CMOs the means to compute ROI. The playing field has leveled because marketers can tell the story of how they contribute to results more easily.
It would be easy for sales to resent the arrival of this technology, since it’s changed how their numbers are perceived. But that would be missing the point: Sales and marketing must work as a team, and if that teamwork results in success then both the VP of Sales and the CMO are likely to be around for a long time.
Instead, sales should embrace the arrival of marketing automation – and get involved with it. Marketing automation, if deployed properly and made available to all in sales and marketing – gives sales an unprecedented opportunity to help marketing generate better leads. That can help them reduce the time they spend prospecting and put that time to use working deals.
Here are four favorite reasons that sales should be excited –not apprehensive – about marketing automation:
1. It enables lead scoring
If marketing can create a lead scoring system, it means a flow of better qualified leads to sales, passed at the right time and illuminated by information about the behaviors of that lead. It’s really the only way to assemble the “digital breadcrumbs” a potential customer leaves behind into an accurate picture of his or her behaviors, needs and readiness to buy. But marketers should not be left to their own devices in creating the lead scoring system – sales reps, who have first-hand interactions with customers all day, have the real-world expertise to reality-check scoring systems and suggest alternative or better ways of doing things. They also are the first to sense when customer behaviors may be changing and when the scoring system may need to be altered. Sales’ involvement with lead scoring is absolutely critical, as this report spells out.
2. It sets up good customer experiences
When sales has access to the data collected by marketing automation, it allows them to sell better – meaning, in a more personalized way and with a better initial understanding of the prospects needs and desires. The sales rep doesn’t have to interrogate the prospect, and can get right to the task of providing value in the form of expertise, content or connections. In turn, this provides the prospect with the right view of the seller’s business, projects a positive image of the sales rep as knowledgeable and prepared, and accelerates the speed of the transaction (which is the user experience B2B buyers really care about). By creating a better experience through marketing automation information, sales can close this deal and, at the same time, set the groundwork for deals to come. Buyers are much more likely to stay with your business in the future if their initial experience reflects well on you today.
3. It allows sales to provide feedback into determining quality leads
Lead scoring is one thing. Lead definitions are another. You can’t have efficient scoring unless both sales and marketing are operating from a common definition of what is a quality lead. The challenge is that this definition will change over time – after all, customers change, target audiences change and products change. Sales is in the best position to understand what changes are happening and when they become important to factor into lead definitions. By collecting data during the marketing process, automation compiles a library of information that can confirm these hunches and allow the sales organization to pivot the right way at the right time. That way, sales is being handed more quality leads, not just more leads.
4. Sales itself can use it
If nothing else, sales should love this technology because, if the application in use is right for the user audience, sales can use it just as easily as marketing. Sales runs the broad campaigns; as leads are handed to sales reps, they can then create their own communications for the group of prospects they’re working within the marketing automation platform, allowing them to send out segmented emails and to see when prospects read and react to them. The potential for personalization grows as you get closer to the customer, and no one is closer than sales.
Some cooperation with marketing to understand best practices (frequency of communication, style of response, etc.) will be necessary, but the ability to micro-segment prospects, and then track and correlate their responses, gives sales an important new tool.