No other moment in history marketers and sales people had so many technologies to improve their work. Most strategies and tactics are still the same used in the past, but how to implement them has changed considerably.
Imagine just a decade ago: your marketing team was entering the digital world, finding new ways to bring leads. Maybe it was an ad banner on a portal like UOL that took the person to a website with a phone number so they could contact your company.
The person called, one of your sales person picked up the phone, did some discovery questions and the whole sales processes would begin. Although this was the early days of marketing on the internet, it probably felt like the prospect was taking the same steps as it would when impacted with traditional marketing campaigns like events, tv and print ads.
There was nothing wrong with that but with new technologies reaching the market, companies had an opportunity to leverage it to make their marketing and sales effort more efficient, scalable and predictable.
Now it’s possible to automate different aspects of your marketing and sales funnel and be able to put in the paper a clear hypothesis how it will perform if certain conditions were met.
The good part of it is that you don’t need to invest tons of money to make it happen. There are dozens of tools that don’t have enterprise pricing and it still can help you. I know sometimes you will need products like Salesforce, Marketo, HubSpot, Eloqua, MadKudu that start with a higher pricing point, but this is not the rule.
I’ve worked with several different tools to help me do my work in a better way and I’d like to share some key points when using technology to close the gap between your marketing and sales team while improving your funnel automating tasks.
Where to start?
The first thing you need to consider is do my marketing and sales teams working with a clear process in mind?.
I know this might sound obvious but many people forget to organize their house first before starting to buying tools. The tool itself won’t be what will transform your business. If you have a disorganized team you’ll have bad results.
If you need to work on SLAs between your marketing and sales teams, create clear marketing and sales processes and define what you want to accomplish implementing do this first.
If you think you have the basics working let’s continue.
When choosing the right stack of marketing and sales products it’s important to consider a few things: is it possible to adapt it to how my teams already work? can I integrate the different tools easily? does my team have someone that will own the technology implementation?
It’s important to answer yes to all those questions.
Once you understand you’re ready I like to think about my marketing and sales toolbelt like this: tools to generate demand (top of the funnel), tools to engage with leads, users, opportunities along their journey (middle and bottom of the funnel), tools to manage customers and tools to integrate and keep your data consistent.
Let me explain each one of them.
Tools to generate demand
There are a few tools that the main value proposition is to get you leads. Some are marketing tools and others are sales tools.
Some marketing tools are Hellobar, Sumo, HubSpot Marketing Hub (Free), AddThis, Leadpages and Unbounce for example. All of them have a simple value proposition: without any technical background you can create popups, forms, modals and landing pages to generate leads.
Nowadays almost all Marketing Automation offer one of those options so you don’t need to go for a single product to accomplish it. But as they are focused on doing this one thing well they generally have more functionality.
For a while only marketers had specific tools to generate demand and leads, but in the past years some tools were launched to help sales people to do their prospecting more efficiently.
Products like Hunter, Snovio, Skrapp and Clearbit, can find emails and other data from people based on their name, last name and company domain. Imagine, sales teams can go on LinkedIn, do their filter based on their ICP and Personas, select people and create a list of qualified contacts so they can reach out to them.
While marketers are generating demand with Inbound Marketing efforts that are making people convert in one of those tools above, sales people are creating a highly targeted list. If you combine both lead generation tactics you’ll probably get a nice flow of leads on top of your funnel.
Now it’s time to engage with them throughout their journey.
Engaging people along their journey
So you generated leads. What to do next? You need to keep in touch and make them remember you.
There are a couple of tools I think it’s interesting and companies should consider adopting them: chat software, marketing automation and sales automation.
Like I said before some of tools within this group might offer features focusing on lead generation. But here I’d like to talk mostly about communication.
Chat products have been around for a while, but now they are cool again. Companies like Intercom and Drift are transforming this market with two powerful softwares.
Marketing and Sales teams can use a chat product to start a conversation before someone converts. They allow you to trigger chats depending on rules you create (e.g. visited the pricing page for more than 30 seconds) and proactively engage with someone that might be interested on your offer.
Both tools are also used by Product and Customer Success teams, but for marketers and sales people they are told to start your lead qualification.
You can even set up bots that will ask specific questions to your visitors so you can qualify them before putting a real person in charge.
Once you start a conversation you need a place for a more robust nurturing program. Now it’s time to choose a Marketing Automation platform. There’s a range of different providers from simple ones like Mailchimp to more complex like Marketo.
In between you have RD Station, HubSpot, Drip and my favorite, Autopilot. If you want a all-in one product with lots of features you’ll be better served with RD Station and HubSpot. But if you want one flexible enough for you to easily get started and that offer tons of integrations and a visual campaign builder, Autopilot is the best one.
Anyways, the secret now is to get all the knowledge your marketing and sales have about what a qualified lead is, what it means MQL and SQL, what are the behavior and information you expect from you Ideal Customer Profile and translate everything in your nurturing and engagement campaigns.
While Marketing Automation is owned by the marketing team, Sales Automation is owned by the sales team. There are some tools like Woodpecker, Mailshake and Reply that enable sales teams to send their outbound campaigns.
All leads prospected can be added to a cold email flow and automatically sent to a CRM once they raise their hands with a positive reply. The difference here is the emails sent from a Sales Automation software are sent directly from the sales person email inbox.
It doesn’t look like marketing. It looks like a personal email that someone wrote by hand. If your sales team also prospects, it’s a must-have.
Now you can generate leads, qualify and nurture them making your MQLs and SQLs move along the funnel until they become your customers.
Customer Relationship Marketing
CRM is both a segment of software and the name of a traditional marketing strategy. You need to keep close to your customers and prospects. You need to understand them. You need a place to keep their records
All the tools I listed above have custom integration with CRMs, specially Salesforce and Pipedrive. I think those two are the best ones in the market. I’ve used both and what they offer is valuable for sales teams to keep track of their accounts and customers.
What is good about them is that it they integrate well with marketing tools, so you can close the loop: send data from your marketing tools to you CRM and use CRM data to build better marketing automation strategies.
Your CRM must be the place everyone on your company goes to check the business results of your investments. You need to keep it organized and with all information important to measure results, like: who generated the deal (marketing or sales), what source brought the prospect, what campaign you were running, and so on.
That way it’s easy to run reports and analyze where to invest your money and where you should stop spending it.
Connecting the dots
I’ve mentioned in the beginning how import is to check the integrations the tools you want offer. But even if they have custom integration I think it’s a plus if you also include tools that have the proposition to facilitate this.
Zapier and Segment are both powerful tools that allow you do distribute data among other products and keep it the same. Once you start using different tools it’s easy to have one type of data in one tool and a completely different one in another.
Sometimes they should be the same thing but each tool interprets it in a specific way. Tools like Zapier and Segment can help you to keep everything on the same tab.
Zapier let’s you connect any software you have to more than 1000 different products. Sometimes the custom integrations built by some vendor is not as powerful as you need it to be. Zapier will probably help.
They also started to launch their custom apps (what they call the integrations) that allow you to filter, transform and manipulate data. One cool app they have is Lead Scoring. You can add it to your arsenal of lead qualification efforts.
While Zapier don’t require a technical implementation for most of their apps, Segment will help technical teams to use their custom tracking scripts to send data to different products.
Both tools will help you to improve your ability to integrate all your marketing and sales tools.
How does your automated Marketing and Sales funnel look like?
Once you have everything in place you’ll see that the leads you’re attracting with your acquisition campaigns will move along your funnel naturally. The marketing team will send better MQLs to the sales team.
The sales team will have more information and better ways to qualify the MQLs so they can be consider SQLs. Once they become opportunities you’ll have a CRM to show you your pipeline and help your team to close deals.
And it all start again and again. With a better view of the whole funnel and journey you can start predicting the result you’ll have. You’ll know if you need to generate more leads or you should focus on nurturing better the ones inside the funnel.
You’ll know where are the best prospects: are the ones your marketing team brought or the sales team? The emails converting are the marketing ones or the sales ones. Or a mix of them?
This kind of view and process you can only get when you start working with marketing and sales automation. With less manual work, less human errors when dealing with data.
So, close the gap between your marketing and sales team: use marketing and sales automation.