How to get everyone on-board for a Marketing Automation initiative
You might think that installing a Marketing Automation tool is intended to make things more effective for your B2B prospects and more efficient for marketing staff but it’s easy to overlook how much Sales will benefit and in some companies Customer Service.
Companies looking to become best in their sector are taking the time to make sure that all aspects of their buyers’ journey are joined up. That means other teams will benefit from and should share in the marketing automation process.
This article explains how other departments will benefit and gives advice on how to start working closer together to maximise successes for the business.
Marketing changed forever with the advent of the internet, social media, smart phones and tablets.
Marketing automation is a technology solution which allows companies to track prospects and customers with greater precision, learn from their online behaviour, and nurture them with personalised, useful content. This helps convert prospects to customers and grow existing accounts.
To do this properly you need to link all customer and prospect interactions with your firm. This specifically means that you should not constrain the technology just to marketing. This could involve customer service or accounts but usually the most important is the sales team.
Look at the process from the Buyers perspective
The Buyer is the person that you need to satisfy so it makes total sense to focus on their needs. We can no longer dictate their process because of historical ways of working carried over from before the internet changed the way that buyers buy. We now have to respond to the customer buying process. They go through various stages as they consider purchasing products and services like yours. You need to relate to them at each stage with the relevant teams working together for maximum conversion. You should educate them before you try to sell them a solution.
At this stage the prospect is experiencing and expressing symptoms of a problem or opportunity. They are doing educational research to more clearly understand, frame and give a name to their problem/opportunity.
Initially a prospect is unaware of your solutions but will probably research a specific business challenge via search engine or social media. The way to get found is to communicate about topics that matter the most to them and their business.(not your solution yet). What we need to achieve here is getting a web visitor to volunteer their contact information in exchange for a content asset such as an eBook or Webinar.
Awareness is principally the role of the marketing team. They will be curating or writing blog posts. Managing the web pages. Sending emails, social posts and hard copy mailers to drive people towards the next stage. Marketing must seek help because
it’s the sales and customer service people that interact regularly who know the sorts of business problems that lead to opportunities. Marketing needs to harness the knowledge these teams have to develop content and messaging that will be effective.
The prospect has clearly defined and given a name to their problem or opportunity. They are now researching all of the available approaches to solving this. Traditionally this is where the lead is passed to Sales for follow up but most prospects today are not ready for the sales conversation straight away – preferring to do more research and improve their understanding of the merits of your (and alternative) solutions before spending time talking to specific suppliers. Nurturing and relevant (or maybe personalized) web pages become important here together with just the right amount of sales qualification. Once again the teams that interact direct with the clients have knowledge that needs to feed into the detailed marketing nurture plans. After they are fully qualified, initially by tripping the Lead Scoring threshold and subsequently from a sales contact, the prospect will move to…
Prospect has now decided on their solution strategy and are compiling a list of all available services and products. They are researching to whittle down to a short list and ultimately make a final purchase decision.
This is frequently the main area of sales involvement but sales need back up in the form of competitor comparisons, success stories, product information sheets, demos etc. The traditional approach is for the sales staff to control the distribution of key data during this stage. Sales should have identified a possible opportunity but is unlikely to be ready to provide a full proposal so during this stage it is useful for the lead to continue being nurtured. While sales are great at managing this part of the process, frequently the buyer remains difficult to contact. Where marketing continue to send appropriate nurture items, buyers continue to lean on your collateral for helping their thought processes.
This becomes particularly important once a formal proposal has been presented as often buying teams go very quiet for a few weeks while they weigh up the various proposals they have received. So long as the marketing is done educationally rather than hard sell then further messages can be sent to keep your company top of mind.
The work doesn’t stop once the purchase has been made. Once you acquire those new customers, delight them with great offers and discounts, exclusive content and anything else you can think of. Ongoing communications can help them become an Advocate. A series of training and usage prompts can be very well received. You should also be monitoring the FAQ or Support pages for visits from clients and if the same person returns 2 or 3 times to the same place they are effectively saying ‘I am stuck here’ so how powerful would it be to have a customer service rep reach out and help the client without being asked?
If they’re happy, they’ll soon begin to support your brand.
Before you get very far into a marketing automation project (and certainly before you start paying for a tool) get all client facing staff together and agree some basics. Define buyer types (not just customer segments) so that you can develop Buyer Personas and Journeys for the most important groupings. Show sales the type of behaviour information they will get inside their CRM system to help motivate them to help.
Produce an agreed definition of what constitutes a lead for different types of client. This needs to be agreed by sales and marketing and will be key in many aspects of the roll-out of marketing automation.
Add to the definition handover rules from marketing to sales. Have SLAs inbuilt to the process. Also have rules for passing leads back from sales to marketing as not ready or lost opportunity. Just because sales does not want to pursue someone straight away does not mean that they are a bad long term prospect. This process needs to be closely monitored and maybe fine tuned as the leads start to flow. Schedule formal review sessions between sales and marketing to make sure both teams are getting what they need from the exercise.