Is your business ready for Sales & Marketing Automation?
Scientists may know the answer to the age old question, what came first, the chicken or the egg? To be honest, I’m still not sure because you can’t really have one without the other….plus I really love eggs!
In the world of sales & marketing there has long been the question of what’s more important, sales or marketing? And perhaps what came first…These days and through the revolution of technology this question shouldn’t really matter either because today, they should both exist, always be ‘on’ and always working, together!
You have likely heard of Salesforce (aka SFDC – Salesforcedotcom), the worlds biggest “cloud” based organisation. SFDC was founded in 1999 by four individuals working under the mantra “no fluff” (do it “fast, simple and right the first time”). Fast forward 21 years and SFDCs mantra, in essence, is probably much the same. SFDC is an exceptional successful organisation; Marc Benioff, CEO (one of the four founders) has been rated #2 best performing CEO in world (Source: Harvard Business Review, Oct 22, 2019). I have a few friends and ex-colleagues who work at SFDC and they all seem to enjoy the culture and winning.
Through their initial development of a leading Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool aka ‘SalesCloud’, SFDC has grown through ongoing product development and acquisition of industry leading platforms like ExactTarget (B2C Marketing Automation)/Pardot (B2B Marketing Automation) plus many other “fill the gap” but very necessary acquisitions to help drive the very core of their original CRM platform.
SFDC’s sales strategy is clear, flood the market with top of mind messaging including direct to market advertising (e.g. sides of buses and on very large (freeway located) digital screens) ensuring that even if you don’t know who they are or what problems they can solve you will recognise the brand. It’s a very interesting and “in your face” strategy that has proven very successful and lucrative for Salesforce. The only problem for SMBs is “one size” doesn’t necessarily fit all circumstances.
Now, I’m not writing this article to anyway beat up on SFDC or talk down their business or products. Their products are very good and suitable for those businesses who have the resources to learn or know how to use them and can truly realise its true potential and Return on Investment (ROI). However, I am aiming to provide a “buyer’s guide” to choosing a sales & marketing tool and the need to first understanding your specific business cases/use cases before investing in a tool that could end up costing you more than it will make you.
From a high-level there are so many moving parts to managing your own business effectively – managing the day to day, managing and maintaining existing clients/customers, marketing and promotion, ensuring sales are consistent, managing your website, analysing business performance (just to name a few…).
With more than 8000 Martech options available (April 2020). More specifically there is 800+ CRM & Marketing Automation platforms combined. It’s very challenging to really understand what you do and don’t need now and what you might need later.
Marketing Automation Options
Some are simple, some are complex and difficult to maintain, and some are simply overkill for what you actually need for your business.
- adoption is key no matter what you choose
- no point buying the Ferrari if you can’t get it out of 1st gear
CRM, Marketing Automation – What’s the difference?
Firstly, each should not be looked at separately but more importantly should be considered, together. It’s not a question of either/or. You need both.
- CRM – houses deep and at times critical information about your Clients and their relationship with your organisation.
- CRM has investment history, lifetime value – enabling you to develop a trusted advisor relationship.
- Marketing Automation – uses your Client information to create a better customer experience, generate leads & sales, plus clear measurable ROI.
- What was once a high-touch process is now achievable with less effort. It helps respond to customer behaviours > e.g. White paper downloads trigger an email or a phone call.
None of this matters without good data
Ask yourself the following:
- what information do you have on your leads or customers?
- Can you access all the relevant information available without bouncing from one system to another
Validate and enrich your data at acquisition. Practice good data hygiene by reviewing this data with your clients when you meet. Make sure data imports are accurate reporting for insights.
Get some basics in place first
- Greet Clients by their first or last name rather than a generic greeting e.g. ‘Dear Client’.
- Build ‘ideal client’ profiles (aka ‘buyer personas’) of your client base to enable automated delivery of relevant content i.e. images, copywriting.
- Lead nurturing through behaviour – opens, clicks, website visit, download, etc
Making a decision
The key areas to consider when starting the decision making process are your existing:
Technology – what existing technologies do you have in order to manage your business?
- do you have business management software or are you still using excel spreadsheets?
Processes – what existing processes do you have to collect and access various business and/or customer related data.
- You need multi-skilled people or different skilled people to consistently utilise platforms such as CRM and marketing automation.
People– what experienced resources do you have to use the platform?
- you need multi-skilled people or different skilled people to consistently utilise platforms such as CRM and marketing automation.
Questions to ask
- Are the key features included in the price? CRM Marketing Automation
- Are you considering both the price and the total cost to manage the tool?
- Can you see a demonstration based on your use case?
- Are there integrations available to work with the tools you already use?
- Can you get up and running quickly?
- What support do they offer?
Don’t forget the “gotcha’s”
If you are on the path to investing in sales and marketing automation you should be aware of these two things:
- the software companies/sales reps won’t tell you or necessarily ask you that you need to know how to do this and how to do that before signing on the dotted line. They might introduce you to a software partner who is supposed to know best but that could end up costing you even more.
- they’ll generally sell you “the dream” that it will improve your productivity, increase sales, drive engagement and make your life easier. To be fair, most sales and/or marketing automation platforms can certainly achieve this but it takes time, investment and a commitment from the business to achieve these things.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) & Marketing Automation working together under one platform
- Technology, Process & People – the key areas to consider with making a decision.
- Adoption is key – don’t expect it all to “just work”. It needs time and commitment.
- Get your data in sorted.
- Don’t get ‘got’ by believing all the hype.
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