By Malinda Wilkinson of Salesfusion

A recent study from Salesfusion found that overall 84 percent of small businesses are happy with their marketing automation platform (MAP). Yet even with high satisfaction levels, there’s always room for improvement.

In fact, Salesfusion’s study identified several such areas many small business marketers find challenging even with a MAP in place – common pain points include lead generation, marketing and sales alignment.

While marketing automation certainly is not a silver bullet, when used correctly it can absolutely help in these areas. With that in mind, the following are a few tips to help you and your team use marketing automation to the fullest and address any concerns.


Bring Everyone To The Table

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As an SMB marketer, you likely only have a few other people on your team – if you’re lucky enough to have that! In fact, 68 percent of respondents reported a marketing team of five people or less. Likewise, your sales counterparts probably have a small team too. And while smaller teams may result in a healthier flow of communication, it’s still vital to make intentional efforts to collaborate early and often.

Schedule time for marketing and sales team leaders to meet. These sessions will provide regular forums to discuss improvements needed throughout marketing automation processes. You’ll also create better alignment around overall goals and objectives.

Kick off the conversation by discussing marketing’s needs with sales, and vice versa. While your planning should include long-term elements, you’ll primarily talk about what you need from a day-to-day perspective.

Again, take it back to basics. Salesfusion’s survey found that 58 percent of respondents consider improving lead quality a challenge, while 49 percent struggle to drive more leads. So whether you need better lead nurturing or to generate leads in general, identifying your priorities helps you figure out how to work better together and maximize the technology at your disposal to collectively see results.


Cross Your T’s And Document Your Processes

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To take that next step toward marketing automation success, you’ll need to document all of your processes. Follow this up with an explicit service level agreement (SLA). Consider this, of survey respondents using marketing automation with SLAs, 60 percent reported strong communications between marketing and sales. Only 30 percent who don’t have a MAP or SLAs made that claim.

At its simplest, a sales and marketing SLA communicates what the two teams will deliver to one another. An SLA helps align your teams by ensuring processes are followed as planned and that goals are realistic and agreed upon by both parties.

Consider including the following in your sales and marketing SLA:

  • Your company’s ideal customer profile
  • How your teams will qualify leads
  • Lead handoff protocols
  • Number of qualified leads marketing will generate each quarter
  • How many of these leads will qualify and convert to opportunities and sales


You Need CRM Integration ASAP

screen shot 2015 08 31 at 3 41 10 pm1 Can Marketing Automation Help Bridge The Gap Between Marketing And Sales?

While a clearly defined SLA creates mutual accountability, there are more pieces to the communication puzzle. To reach peak communication efficiency between sales and marketing, both teams’ technology platforms should integrate as well.

For example, most sales teams utilize a customer relationship management (CRM) tool to input and keep track of ongoing activity with a prospect. Therefore, smooth CRM integration with a marketing team’s automation platform ensures databases remain consistent, as do your lead scoring and handoff processes. Integration also provides your team with additional bandwidth, as many manual tasks, such as qualifying and uploading leads to the CRM, now happen automatically.


The Recipe For Success

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Ultimately, regardless of whether you’re using an MAP or not, as an SMB marketer you’re going to face challenges when it comes to alignment with sales and lead generation. However, with the right strategy in place to collaborate with other departments and get the most out of the technology in play for your business, you can overcome and thrive.


About The Learn Marketing Automation Survey

screen shot 2015 08 31 at 3 41 10 pm1 Can Marketing Automation Help Bridge The Gap Between Marketing And Sales?

Salesfusion commissioned the Learn Marketing Automation survey to evaluate whether or not value is being derived from marketing automation solutions. Nearly 700 B2B marketers from companies with less than $100 million in revenue were surveyed. More than 40 MAP vendors were represented by survey participants, while Act-on, Eloqua, Hubspot, Marketo, Pardot and Salesfusion were the most common solutions reported.


Malinda Wilkinson is the Chief Marketing Officer of Salesfusion, where she oversees all aspects of marketing including branding, messaging, lead generation, events and operations. She is passionate about B2B marketing and building relationships, programs and analytics to improve the value marketing delivers to an organization.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within this guest post are those of the authors alone and do not represent those of CBS Small Business Pulse or the CBS Corporation. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are verified solely by the authors.






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