Software of all types is bought and sold with the promise of being a cure for what ails your organization. An ERP system that makes manufacturing problem-free! Accounting systems that alleviate payment headaches forever! As we all know, however, no matter how good it sounds on the box, systems and platforms rarely do solve all our problems. This is especially true with Marketing Automation Platforms (MAPs).
Don’t get me wrong, I believe in marketing automation. MAPs are immensely powerful tools and with their adoption rates skyrocketing (SiriusDecisions estimates an increase of 50% by 2015 in fact), it’s no wonder marketers are looking to them to fix their efficiency and lead quality problems. But MAPs are tools—they do what you tell them to do. And if they’re automating bad processes, well, you could end up like the 50% of respondents on a 2011 Focus survey who said they haven’t realized the full value of their MAP investment.
The question becomes how do you avoid this gotcha so that you can actually see return on your MAP investment?
First, consider your processes today. In many organizations they look like this:
Raw leads enter the system → marketing nurtures in some capacity → marketing passes to sales → sales still has do its own prospecting to diagnose the opportunity
If you just put a MAP on top of this process, all you’ll do is end up with the same results:
Raw leads enter the system → MAP puts leads through automated workflows based on XYZ information (entry point, title, organization size) → marketing passes to sales after predetermined lead scoring criteria has “diagnosed” the lead → sales still has to do its on prospecting to vet the opportunity
Again, it isn’t necessarily the MAP that’s the problem; it’s the process. The biggest thing that’s missing in this scenario is a 1:1 interaction and no, I don’t mean an automated email “from” one of your sales reps, I mean a real attempt to get someone on the phone in order to understand who the responder is, if he’s the decision maker, if there’s a decision to be made, and if there’s a fit on both sides.
A more productive alternative to the process above looks like this:
As you can see, this process starts the same but also adds in a few key layers including:
- Triaging the raw leads to ensure they’re actually a fit against your total addressable market (tons of MQLs are meaningless if sales can’t or won’t follow up on them)
- Optimizing raw leads to find and add additional roles at an account so that your sales team can truly attack an entire account
- Adding in Moment-of-Interest Marketing® to connect voice-to-voice with the prospect and concierge her to the next step. This is not a sales pitch, this is a concierge call to validate that the prospect got the information they were looking for and to discover and learn more about what they need and how they should be routed.
In this scenario, sales doesn’t receive a lead until it’s a Level 3 to 5 MQL (as defined by SiriusDecisions) and ready to have a conversation. Also in this scenario, you can see that there’s still a defined and important role for a Marketing Automation Platform (in fact, there may be two roles for it, one to help on the generation end of creating and funneling raw leads as well as the one shown in the image).
The bottom line is that it’s all about the process. Any tool, system, or platform can only do so much. If you don’t have the time, capacity, or resources to create and implement processes up front, a MAP won’t magically save the day and you’ll still end up routing leads (or “leads”) to nowhere.