By Megan Virtanen (@MichiFinn12)
Marketing automation is not the same as sales enablement. Repeat after me: Not. The. Same. In order for a sales force to be both efficient and effective, read: close deals, you need both. Here’s why.
As a tech marketer marketing to large-scale enterprises, I fully understand the complexities of a tech sale and the frustrations that sellers often have in enterprise deal cycles. Let me tell you, marketing automation does nothing to help sellers further engage with a buyer or accelerate an opportunity in flight. What it does do is tee up the conversation for seller engagement. Read ahead to learn why!
The Infamous Sales and Marketing Funnel
Top of funnel – Marketing automation happens at the top and middle of the sales and marketing funnel. Organizations can leverage software to automate repetitive tasks like emailing, posting on social media, and prescribing website actions. Marketing automation tools make these tasks easier for the marketer and help to distribute content and messaging at scale. These actions then generate buzz and awareness around an organization’s product or service with the goal of prompting a target to take action (i.e. visit a page, download an e-book, register for an event, etc.).
Middle of funnel – Once that target has taken a designated action, marketing automation can help nurture the prospect with content aligned to their purchase journey. In an ideal world, marketing automation tracks the target’s activity and scores them appropriately. When a defined score is reached (note, the score and tipping point is different for every organization!), that target is then considered a “warm” prospect or lead and delivered to sales to continue the conversation. Note that up until now, marketing automation has allowed for the target to find and receive content relevant to their business problem digitally, but not in person.
Bottom of funnel – This is the moment of truth, where the alignment between sales and marketing is truly tested, where the relevance of the content and the efficacy of the seller matters most, and where sales enablement comes into play. Just because a target has been nurtured and deemed “sales ready” does not mean that marketing can pat themselves on the back and walk away. Oh no. All that marketing content that was created can now be predictably delivered to the seller and customized to the buyer at the unique stage in the sales cycle. What’s more, marketing can leverage sales enablement technology to gain a better understanding of the content that is successfully supporting sales conversations and winning business. On the flip side, sales enablement technology also allows marketers to identify gaps in the content library and pivot to developing additional resources that might be needed. The ability to review and analyze directly in a sales enablement tool allows marketing to create better-targeted resources, demonstrate accurate ROI on marketing content, and tie marketing investments to closed/won business.
So for a holistic view of how marketing and sales efforts are moving the needle, sales enablement is the yin to your marketing automation yang. And you’ll drive sales and marketing alignment to boot…because when sales and marketing teams are in sync, companies become 67% better at closing deals (Marketo)!
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