Here’s How Marketing Automation Will Change Your Sales Team’s Efficiency

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Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

When I started my career in sales many years ago (I sold newspaper advertising), it was fair to say that our sales process was far from efficient.

Our cold calling strategy (which made up about 80% of our working day) was about as cold as it can get — some might even describe it as freezing.

Sales territories were divided up alphabetically, and we hit the Yellow Pages with a minimum of 35 “effective calls” a day. For those of you who haven’t worked in a high-pressure sales environment, an “effective call” is a call where you have spoken to the person with the power to make a buying decision. This meant, on a slow day, we could make hundreds of sales calls just to make our numbers — and we got into trouble if we didn’t.

On a good day, maybe a handful of these “effective calls” would generate a sale. On a bad day, it was a real slog. Let me tell you, when you deal with constant rejection on the phone, it becomes incredibly difficult to continue to “smile while you dial” — another mantra that was forced down the sales teams’ throats from our sales trainers.

This rather old-fashioned sales process (basically it followed the unscientific numbers game theory of the more you tell, the more you sell), was incredibly inefficient. Imagine how much more we could have sold if we had only spoken with warm and, in the perfect world, red hot sales leads.

Note: I’m not dismissing the “numbers game” strategy. The more effort you put into something, the luckier you will get, but could you imagine how much luckier you would be if you eliminated the element of chance from the equation?

The problem is, as anyone who has worked in sales will tell you, red hot leads very rarely identify themselves.

Seriously, I guarantee nine out of every ten calls that come into a dedicated sales line (the most visible number on your website and other marketing collateral) will be for something else — probably somebody else trying to sell you something.

Marketing automation changes everything

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Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash

While I’m still a big advocate of salespeople picking up the phone and speaking with potential clients to close deals (people buy from people they like), wouldn’t it be great if everyone single call a sales professional made was “effective”?

I would argue that it’s marketing’s job to turn those cold leads into red hot prospects, and the sales team shouldn’t even get a look at those leads until they have reached a certain temperature. Once this happens, your sales team can say goodbye to all those awkward sales pitches that start with a clumsy introduction to what your business actually does, “Er… Have you heard of us?”

This is where a modern marketing department equipped with a powerful marketing automation technology comes into its own.

Marketing automation’s elevator pitch

Marketing Automation has a very simple proposition. It’s all about delivering the right message to the right person at the right time.

When you get marketing automation right, the content you deliver will guide people through the sales funnel until they (a) have shared enough information about their interests so that a salesperson can confidently contact them knowing that they are interested in the product or service they are selling, (b) identify themselves as an interested party and request a consultation from a sales professional, © make a self-service purchase via eCommerce or visit your sales premises, or (d) remove themselves from your sales funnel.

Note: Don’t worry about those prospects who remove themselves from your funnel. These are the people who would waste your time if you called them.

Your first investment should be in content

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Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

The challenge for marketers is to create enough evergreen content to guide prospects through the sales funnel and hold those warm (not yet red hot) leads in place until they are ready to be contacted.

Marketing Automation isn’t a magic marketing button that drives sales engagement without a significant investment in content creation. And if you are still looking for a magic marketing button — I hate to let you know it doesn’t exist.

Marketers should therefore not only strive to create content that can be used across multiple marketing channels (email campaigns, social media posts, blog posts, podcasts, YouTube videos, webinars, etc.), but also content that has longevity and can be used multiple times. Once this evergreen content has been created, it will continue to work for you for months or even years to come.

This evergreen content, delivered at the right time and the right place, will introduce your business to your potential customers and chip away until they are ready to become customers. Once this initial investment has been made in content, it’ll not only mean your salespeople only speak to red hot prospects, it’ll also free up your marketing team to create those stand-alone campaigns that deliver those big brand marketing experiences that draw people into your funnel.

Remember: As long as your content is engaging and relevant, it will always appear fresh in the eyes of someone who has never seen it before.

Five things marketing automation can do for you

  1. Email Automation: Load it up and let it go. Marketing Automation takes the triggered drip campaigns of yesterday (autoresponders) and supercharges them. Campaigns can be triggered by activities such as campaign engagement or sent by date.
  2. Powerful List Segmentation: No more juggling customer data on spreadsheets. Imagine being able to add non-openers to a specific list and re-engaging them without even thinking about it.
  3. Smart Sending: The perfect time to send an email is the moment when your subscribers are at their most engaged. Marketing Automation delivers your campaigns to suit your subscribers’ schedule — not yours.
  4. Landing Pages: Never let a lack of design resource dictate when your campaigns can be released. Having the ability to quickly design your landing pages with drag and drop tools (just like you design your emails), means you can react to opportunities and not be hamstrung by your graphic designer’s busy schedule.
  5. Detailed Analytics: Make solid marketing decisions based on analytics that goes beyond the standard open and click-through data.

Marketing automation isn’t a guaranteed deal but it will do everything else. Can you imagine how popular your marketing department will be if it only hands over the hottest leads to your sales department?

Imagine:

  • No more cold calls (only red hot ones)
  • No more tire kickers and time wasters (and no more wasting other people’s time)
  • No more complaints about the quality of leads (creating great trust and respect between marketing and sales)
  • No more complaints about the volume of leads (when more leads convert, the volume becomes less of an issue)

If you are looking for a world where your sales department deals with fewer leads but generates more sales, Marketing Automation, and specifically, iContact PRO is a step in the right direction.

This post first appeared on the iContact Email Marketing Blog.

Written by

Marketing Strategist, Author of #BecomingTHEExpert, Content Marketing Trainer, and Cyclist. Check out my author profile: https://amzn.to/2OO5DR5

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