New Sales Tools Increase Alignment Between Sales and Marketing

The lead management automation vendors have been busy. In March, Genius announced Genius Enterprise and broadened their scope from sales enablement to lead management. Late in May, Eloqua introduced Prospect Profiler, a graphical, one-stop interface that tracks a prospect’s digital footprints and summarizes buyer activity. Next, Silverpop’s EngageB2B team unveiled a new graphical campaign design and management tool to the market and, on June 9, Marketo launched Sales Insight, a 100% Force.com application that lets sales reps see and interact with the “hottest” leads in their queue, a product they made generally available at the end of May. It’s interesting, and not coincidental, that 3 of the 4 announcements target sales reps as the primary user and demonstrate growing demand for technology helps marketers align with sales activity.

At first, I thought tools that let sales see information about prospect activity – like tracking when potential buyers visit a Web site and what they look at – amounted to no more than fancy cold-calling tools. Just because someone opens an email or visits a Web page doesn’t mean they want to get phone call from a sales person minutes later. It feels a bit intrusive and creepy. But the Eloqua and Marketo announcements are changing my mind by showing that access to prospect information, done right, helps sales understand how buyers buy and makes the sales process more efficient.

Sales Insight Helps Sales Zero In on Hot Leads

Sales Insight Helps Sales Zero In on Hot Leads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I like most about the Eloqua and Marketo offerings is both put marketing’s lead generation hard work in front of sales in a succinct and digestible manner. Both make it easier for sales to decide how to pursue leads and how to pick up the conversation marketing starts. Of course, the devil is in the details when it comes to determining which tool will best fit your firm’s specific demand management needs. Here are the pros and cons of these sales enablement tools that jump out at me:

1) Integrating with the SFA system. Like it or not, reps prefer the phone or in-person meetings. When online, they spend time almost exclusively in email and the SFA system using either through an iPhone or Blackberry interface. Getting them to open another tool, can be like pulling teeth without an anesthetic. Kudos goes to Marketo for seamlessly integrating with Salesforce. While sales can open Prospect Profiler inside of Salesforce, the action looks like opening another app and Eloqua will have to work to convince reps to take that extra step. Of course, the nod goes to Eloqua if you are not a Salesforce user because their tool can run standalone like the Genius Tracker. But the task of getting reps to open it still remains.

2) Delivering information versus data. Reps want to know “Who should I call first? Who should I call now?” While the Eloqua tool does a great job of summarizing a broader range of customer activity by category – how many emails have prospects opened, what have they searched on, etc. – it doesn’t highlight which leads are “hot” or “qualified” with the simplicity that the Marketo tool does. However, getting reps to agree on marketing’s definition of hot and qualified is the challenge Marketo faces – because if sales disagrees with the label Sales Insight applies, they won’t trust the tool’s suggestions in the future. To counter this, Marketo’s tool lets reps, with one click, send feedback to marketing and close the scoring loop. How quickly marketing responds to this feedback and zeros in on regional or territorial differences will determine how effective the stars and flames become.

3) Investigating anonymous visitors: Integrating with reverse IP lookup tools is a hot topic today. From a pure marketing perspective, this feature is not one I would put at the top of my list. Letting reps check out anonymous Web traffic seems like shortcutting the lead development process. Sales management says “have an account plan and execute against it.” Marketing says, “here are well-qualified leads you should pursue, and here’s why.” I just don’t see how chasing anonymous Web traffic helps reps take care of these two mandates.

Yes, I know reps are expected to develop their territories and that looking for clues about buyer intent in Web traffic is less expensive, and (today) more productive, than cold calling or buying lists. But I also believe that marketing is the best way to develop new business and that sales should focus more on mining existing accounts, where relatively more expensive sales prospecting activity can be put to use building relationships. I find Marketo’s featured integration with Jigsaw, Demandbase, and LinkedIn a nice-to-have. To keep it from becoming an annoyance, I recommend using it in a telesales or lead development function as one tool in a kit used to qualify and build dialogue before turning prospects over to direct sales. (Happy to hear if you see it differently.)

4) Notifying versus overloading. I like Marketo’s Interesting Moments feature because it keeps sales and marketing focused on “moments of truth” – events that influence prospects’ propensity to buy. The language here is simple and understandable. And marketing can adjust it to make the descriptions even more relevant. However both firms need to avoid crossing the line between providing useful information and causing information overload. Optionally sending email notifications and Web visit alerts to reps is the right approach. The next step should be to automatically create a report that summarizes how many reps use these features and how many have turned them off and send it to marketing.

5) Understanding the Buyer’s Journey better. As any rep can tell marketing, not two deals close the same. Learning how buyers buy is a huge challenge in B2B made more complex by the myriad of digital channels that buyers now use. That’s why I like Eloqua’s profile feature that summarizes inbound and outbound activity over time. This helps marketing see to which communication a customer best responds and sales see if the prospects digital body language is showing an increase in interest over time or just the random activity of someone not fully engaged.

To determine whether one of these tools is right for you, look at which one will do a better job of answering the “so what?” question from your sales team’s perspective. And, let’s face it, that’s a key question to answer because sales always want to know “what have you done for me lately?”

So what do you think? I’m happy to hear your thoughts on which product you’d pick and whether these features are essential when investing in automation for B2B marketing.

7 Responses to “New Sales Tools Increase Alignment Between Sales and Marketing”

  1. Engagement 2.0: A New Mindset for Marketing and an Energized Link Between Customer, Prospect and Sales Team | Silverpop Blog Says:

    [...] Ramos with Forrester touched on this in a recent blog post on sales-marketing alignment: “As any rep can tell marketing, no two deals close the same. Learning how buyers buy is a [...]

  2. Concluding Our Conversation: Loopfuse CEO Chat, Part III « B2B Marketing POSTs by Laura Ramos Says:

    [...] lead management vendors include what I call “sales enablement” features in their offerings today – tools that help track a prospect’s digital footprints and summarize [...]

  3. Ken Krogue Says:

    Laura,

    I think the new technologies have dramatically increased the frequency of touches by an Inside Sales team both initially and by proactively subscribing all lead responses into permission-based lead nurturing many companies are using Inside Sales as the primary instrument of lead generation and sales. Branding then becomes a byproduct by default.

    Internally we drink our own medicine with lead generation reps who make 350-400 calls a day each. In the process of making these calls we leave well over a hundred pre-recorded voice messages with significant positioning and branding content, as well as sending at least a hundred emails immediately and subscribing nearly two hundred of these calls to ongoing email/fax/voice message nurturing campaigns.

    I would have to agree that branding, though by no means a primary objective of these campaigns, is happening by default as our teams are combining Inside Sales with lead generation and lead nurturing.

    Ken Krogue
    President
    InsideSales.com

  4. Inside Sales And Telemarketing Help Boost B2B Brands: Really? « B2B Marketing POSTs by Laura Ramos Says:

    [...] “keeping in touch” with prospects than simply just dialing for dollars.  New sales enablement tools help telesales see what “leads” look at when visiting the site, and can better inform [...]

  5. Jep Castelein Says:

    I agree with you (point 3) and with Ian that anonymous lead monitoring has the potential to be distracting. Even though it’s a ‘cool’ feature, I don’t see it immediately add to the bottom line.

    Keeping track of identified visitors (ideally real-time) makes much more sense to me. I agree with the points you make for 1, 2, 4 and 5: I’m looking forward to work with my clients to optimize this, and get some best practices in place.

    All in all, an excellent article. The best article I’ve read about this topic!

  6. Ian Gilyeat Says:

    Hi Laura,

    These announcements all appear to be moving the market in the right direction of alligning sales and marketing activities but I hope that one of them will take into consideration the life cycle of the customer and the value of a customer. My impression is that it’s easy to get lost in many activities and lose track of the value of a customer the the relationship that has been built or is in process of being built.

  7. Terry Sydoryk Says:

    Hi Laura,
    I’m with ActiveConversion. We are not surprised to see these developments. We’re releasing SalesView for ActiveConversion tomorrow which will be our version for SMB sales teams. SalesView was built specifically so that our audience didn’t require a CRM (although we have integration with Salesforce.com as well separate from SalesView). So our opinion is not everyone has Salesforce.

    As for anonymous visitors, this is useful because not ALL leads are brand new. It’s just as important to know an existing company (or prospect company) that sales is aware of is visiting . Also in our market, this feature along with using our integrated Jigsaw lookup has been very popular for sales because they may not have a telemarketing group, or don’t want to wait for that group.

    We also have lead trending, an alerts dashboard, integration with our Outlook plug-in and the ability for sales to add leads to a drip campaign. Contact me if you would like a demo.

    Cheers, Terry.


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