Marketing automation software (MAS) has been a game-changer for sales and marketing alike in terms of lead connectivity, engagement, reach and efficiency. As sales leaders, it is important that we have a clear understanding of the power and limitations of marketing automation. This insight will allow members of our sales teams to fully leverage this powerful tool and also understand their role in bridging the gap to foster sales success.
Outbound messaging (email blasts) is the most widely used and best understood function of marketing automation, providing the ability to send all manner of content (newsletters, promotional ads, surveys) to your entire database or any identified segment within that audience. MAS provides the means to segment our audience for more specialized and targeted messaging, personalize the message and even its core content, for optimal relevance and engagement. Its primary function is to raise awareness of products, services and events. What MAS cannot do is connect the features of these products/services to the individual needs of your customers. This is where the sales professional must step in.
As an example, Carew International might send an email blast regarding our upcoming open enrollment sales training program in June. That content will create general awareness of the event and will prompt action on the part of certain customers; but consider how a sales professional might leverage an email blast to connect that information to a very specific and personalized customer benefit.
“Hi Tom, I wanted to make sure you saw the announcement regarding Carew’s upcoming open enrollment sales training program. You had mentioned a desire to have your regional managers preview our Dimensions of Professional Selling prior to training your entire sales team in August. The upcoming open enrollment program provides the ideal opportunity to do that…”
It is imperative that sales team members see their individual and critical role in connecting the information to customer benefits, and leverage key opportunities – not only for the sales opportunity at hand, but for the strength of the long-term relationship. The individualized note above tells the customer that his or her sales representative was thinking about them and looking for opportunities to help them meet their objectives. In this case, the sales professional has given him/herself a role in the automated process and added authentic value simply by connecting the event with the individual needs of the customer.
Beyond the ability to segment, personalize and send content, today’s marketing automation systems provide terrific insight as to how each message is received and, more importantly, to whom the content was of interest. MAS has the ability to provide your sales team insight into which customers opened any given email and/or clicked on a link in the email. Clearly, this insight greatly increases efficiency for your sales team members, who now know where their time is best spent on follow up. Here, again, comes a critical transition from the automated marketing system to the individual sales professional, as it is up to him or her to act on that insight with personal follow up that connects the product/service with tangible benefits for the individual client.
Marketing automation systems have capabilities and benefits well beyond mass email distribution and engagement insights. Whether email blasts, lead scoring or automated nurture programs…each function of marketing automation must be fully understood by sales professionals in terms of its potential and its limitations. Most importantly, we must identify for sales professionals their role in leveraging the “air cover” provided by marketing automation and their responsibility for picking up the mantle, engaging the highest potential opportunities, adding value and connecting the information to the unique needs and motivations of their customers. With this insight in place, marketing automation and your sales team become a match made in heaven.