Introduction

Marketing automation company Salesfusion has created a great webinar summarising what traditional CRM does, how the buying cycle has changed, and how the sales and marketing departments can unite to use marketing automation to fix CRM’s problems.

If you don’t have time to check out the webinar now (we know you’re busy!), we’ve summarised the best parts below the video:

The new buying cycle

Customers usually research and make buying decisions along the following steps:

Awareness – Information Gathering – Comparison – Engagement – Decision

The internet has fundamentally changed how customers research products and engage with sales teams.  The buyer journey, those steps that customers take from research through to purchase, is now taking place largely on the web.  A prospect’s interaction with salespeople has been continually pushed further and further into the buying cycle.

Research shows that as much as 70% of this buying journey involves prospects consuming digital content, only engaging with sales representatives for the Engagement and Decision stages.

Unfortunately for salespeople, their CRM systems are only equipped to help them once the customer reaches that Engagement stage, at a point when the customer has almost made up their mind.

What traditional CRM does

Fundamentally, CRM is designed to normalise and manage the sales process from the time an opportunity becomes known until that opportunity is converted into a customer.

Sales department typically use CRM to handle some of the following jobs:

  • Manage sales activities, tasks and to dos
  • Manage pipeline/forecasting
  • Manage the sales process from the opportunity stage through to the final purchase
  • Manage post-sales relationships in terms of service and support

You may have noticed a flaw in this system.  If CRM systems are meant to handle known enquiries as the salespeople become aware of them at the Engagement stage, how are the salespeople supposed to know about and engage with people in the Awareness, Information Gathering and Comparison stages?

Fortunately, that’s where marketing automation platforms thrive and make their mark on the sales process.

What marketing automation does

Marketing automation platforms are designed to manage the buyer journey by capturing and reacting to explicit and implicit buyer touch-points.  These systems identify, classify and nurture leads in order to get them in the best possible shape for the sales department.

Where CRM handles the known opportunities, marketing automation works to identify leads based on their engagement with your brand before they reach out to sales.

As an example, the marketing department can send emails to prospects and customers and they know if those recipients open or click in the emails, but do they know where these people go next?  Marketing automation lets you track these visitors as they interact with your website, even after the initial email click through, giving them points the more pages they touch until they are warm enough for sales to make an impact.

Marketing automation also lets you nurture leads who have been in touch with sales but are not yet sales-ready.  Instead of losing track of these leads, you can make sure they receive regular contact from your brand so you are at the forefront of their minds when they become ready to make a purchase.

Marketing automation unites the sales and marketing departments to identify more prospects and prevent leads from leaking out of your sales funnel.  This process ultimately helps to strengthen your pipeline and grow your business.

Conclusion

If you have the time, check out the video at the beginning of this article.  It has great visualisations of some of the concepts in this summary as well as a more in-depth discussion of how marketing automation prevents leaks and unites the marketing and sales departments.

We’re here to answer any questions you have about marketing automation.  Just get in touch.