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Recent research shows that 70% of the buying process is now complete by the time a prospect is ready to engage with sales — which means your marketing team is now doing a good bit of selling. 70% of the buying process is now complete by the time a prospect is ready to engage with sales. Earlier this week, we published an interview between Ali Gooch, Pardot Sales Manager, and Sangram Vajre, Director of Marketing, on the topic of sales-marketing alignment. Let’s take a closer look at how marketing automation impacts each team respectively, and how it can bring their efforts together for a more collaborative approach. Automation allows marketers to take some of the more menial tasks, like assigning out leads, and put them on autopilot — freeing up marketers to focus on creating content and developing overall strategy.
The vast majority of opted-in subscribers these days are usually either inactive or they haven't yet placed their first order. By sending newly opted-in subscribers a series of email communications encouraging them to buy, you ensure that they are kept engaged and likely to buy within a targeted period of time. An email marketing welcome series is used to engage your new subscribers and warm them up to make their first purchase.
When I say welcome series work flow, I don't just mean the ability to send a welcome email. The workflow will consist of a sequence of connected steps, with each step sending out an email based on previously defined conditions and logic.
Many smaller ESPs won't have workflow functionality to send many emails in a series, so before making a decision to execute an email welcome series, make sure that your ESP has the functionality to create and execute welcome-series workflows. Before you start an email welcome series, it is important to work out how many emails you want in the series. Deciding how many emails people get throughout the series is essential, because sending too many emails may increase unsubscribes and decrease email conversions. Before executing the email welcome series, you need to develop the proper logic behind the workflow. Your workflow needs to make sense and it must be practical enough to maximize email conversions. One benefit of working out your workflow path and logic is that it stops customers from receiving too many emails or emails that may not be relevant to them—for example when a customer who has already bought from an email gets another email reminding them of the same promotion.
You will need to have a plan for what kind of content and promotions will be sent out via each email of the series. I recommend having a mix of types so your subscribers do not get email fatigue from the same kind of email. Once you have made a decision about what to include in all the emails in the welcome series, get your email marketing department to design and code the emails. OK, this is the moment of truth, and all that preparation and planning will have to be put into practice. This step is usually done via an easy-to-use graphic interface that allows you to set up your email series path and connect the workflow elements together and set up the conditions for each.
Tracking the results of a welcome series is important, because you will need to make sure that it is converting enough subscribers into customers without increasing the unsubscribe rate.
The challenge is being able to correctly interpret the results and analyzing the correct metrics.
Report results to all those involved in the project, everyone from the ones who create the emails to the director of the digital marketing department. I recommend reviewing results weekly with the immediate team so that if there are any changes that need to be made based on insights gathered, it's done quickly.
Setting up a welcome series workflow takes dedication and hard work, and ESPs with work flow functionality are usually a little costlier than the ESPs that just send regular emails.
Having a welcome series will ensure that the investment made in increasing subscribers will fully pay off. Join over 600,000 marketing professionals, and gain access to thousands of marketing resources! Ben Liau is a veteran digital marketing strategist and head of customer acquisition at Digital Flank, a digital agency specializing in Web strategy and optimization. Brian Solis shares why great products, creative marketing, and delightful customer service are no longer enough to win customers. Presented by: Paul ChaneyIn just 10 minutes, we'll share six practical tips that will help you tap into your online community to grow your business and benefit your customers. In this 22-page guide, you'll learn how to identify the key hires to get your team started, what traits and skills to look for in your key hires, how to manage freelancers, and much more! Through eight simple to follow, well-defined steps, SmartTools: Email Campaign Planner will help you establish an effective email marketing program to gather and convert leads. Presented by: Mark Lerner In just 10 minutes, you'll learn three simple steps to source quality influencer video and use it to impact your bottom line in a meaningful and measurable way. MarketingProfs uses singlesign-on with Facebook, Twitter, Google and others to make subscribing and signing in easier for you. If you aren’t using some kind of marketing automation tool yet for your online campaigns, you’re missing out. This week’s blog post shows you how to feel the magic using MAS to run an effective campaign. Email creation – powerful templates make it easy for you to swap out a few graphics and adjust copy to create a new email in minutes. Email sending – just tell the MAS which segmented lists you want to email to, set the date and time you want your emails to go out and save. Notifications – you can set the MAS to immediately inform you and the appropriate salesperson when a prospect has opted out of an email list. Preprogrammed responses – suppose you’re running a promotional campaign to a specific target list, but someone outside of that list somehow gets a hold of an email or comes to a website landing page as part of the campaign and responds. Tracking – the MAS tracks, in real time, every aspect of your campaign, including who opened your emails and who didn’t, who’s opted out, which emails bounced back, who clicked on links in your emails, and who’s filled out forms on landing pages.
CRM integration – many MAS platforms sync directly with customer relationship management (CRM) platforms like Salesforce, SugarCRM and Microsoft Dynamics.
The bottom line is that by setting up automation rules, you can enable your MAS to initiate your campaigns and respond appropriately to any prospect action while tracking everything and providing you with instant real-time campaign reports.
If this brief overview of marketing automation magic has whetted your appetite, we encourage you to start learning about the various available platforms and what they can do for you. Over at ZUZA, we’ve spent a lot of time evaluating systems and digging in with MAS ourselves. A third initiative is very helpful in B2B companies that are pursuing large accounts: account-based marketing (ABM) working with sales’ targeted account program. Sales and marketing alignment begins by having a common set of definitions, objective and metrics. What’s the make-up of the entire buying team, including influencers, decision-makers, and people with executive sign-off? I’m surprised that she didn’t specifically include the CFO like she does the CIO, because certainly the financial side of any major purchase is critical.
Is this budgeted, or will they need to get budget approval (or at least financial sign-off) after selecting the vendor?
Understanding the buyers and their motivators and process in depth is just the first step that the sales and marketing teams must undertake for true alignment.
Once sales and marketing are in agreement on who they are selling to, they then need to define the buyer’s journey.
Today the buyer’s journey may be quite complex and occur on many channels including websites, social media, email, phone, print, tradeshows, and much more.
In other words, as the buyers work through their options there will be many touchpoints for marketing’s materials and events and for sales people. Over the past decade or so many B2B companies have adopted the SiriusDecisions waterfall methodology to track the buyer’s journey from the company side.
As today’s B2B buyers increasingly look to vendors in general, and sales people in particular, to add value to their experience, it’s important for sales people to be empowered with customizable content for each stage of the buyer’s journey. Buyers typically are looking for different types of information when they’re just starting out, and doing general industry research, as opposed to a later stage when they’ve narrowed their options to just a few vendors. There’s an old phrase that predates even “big data”: you can’t manage what you can’t measure.
Once these goals and metrics are in place, Sales and Marketing leaders should meet weekly to review how they are doing in meeting them and what each needs to change to improve performance.

A lot goes into developing a service level agreement between Sales and Marketing, but the work is worth it. Recent, separate surveys by Scott Brinker and CedarCone came up with well over 1,000 companies providing some flavor of technology related to sales or marketing – and that’s not everyone. CRM: The customer relationship management system is central to the success of any company that wants to grow beyond a few dozen customers that are being tracked in a spreadsheet. Keeping the information in the CRM system up to date is key to managing sales and predicting pipeline. Some sales reps may not initially see the value of the CRM; they may think of updating it as just administrative paperwork that may be helpful to sales management but not to them. For Marketing the CRM contains invaluable data for tracking campaign performance beyond leads to opportunities and wins, as well as identifying the most promising accounts and roles of individuals within accounts, and other data for analyzing programs and planning future efforts. Marketing automation: When fully implemented, marketing automation systems are a combination of email marketing, customer behavior tracking, lead scoring, lead nurturing, website personalization, sales alerts and more. Many marketing automation systems began as email marketing programs which then added programmatic actions based on the response of the prospect. Individual email campaigns can have similar workflows: different automated actions set to happen depending on whether the person opens an email, responds, etc. Leads that aren’t yet at the level of an MQL, which will be most of them, can go into the marketing automation system’s nurture campaigns. Marketing automation systems can personalize website content to the individual based on their prior visits and actions. Sales alerts can be set up based on prospect behavior, not just their specific request to be contacted. Some of this data will be stored in the marketing automation system, and some will also be stored in the CRM.
Predictive Analytics: Predictive analytics is at the leading edge of today’s sales and marketing technology. A specific initiative on which B2B Sales and Marketing can work together to land new accounts or grow existing accounts is the combination of account based marketing (ABM) with a strategic accounts or targeted accounts program. ABM is the development and delivery of marketing communications to a “market of one”: specific accounts. In ABM Sales and Marketing can jointly create goals, identify markets and accounts, share knowledge and research about them and key players, develop offers, and collaborate on the nature and timing of account-based communications, such as personalized content targeted to buying team members at the varying points in their buyer’s journey.
Many marketing tools and tactics can be used to support account based marketing, such as predictive analytics, social media research, direct mail, email marketing, website personalization, retargeting, and ad targeting by domain. Account based marketing in support of a targeted accounts program is not the flavor of the week; it’s been used by B2B companies for years.
The alignment of sales and marketing are critical to meeting sales quotas and growing a company.
This entry was posted in management, marketing strategy, sales management and tagged sales and marketing alignment on April 22, 2014 by Louis Gudema. And we learned a couple of things: 1) when used effectively, marketing automation can go a long way towards aligning sales and marketing departments, and 2) while marketing automation can help sales and marketing teams communicate and collaborate on achieving their goals, it also impacts each team in very different ways. For one thing, reps have effective, well-written campaigns produced by marketing placed at their fingertips. As Sangram mentioned in his interview, the lead nurturing capabilities of automation also ensure that marketing-sourced leads don’t go to waste just because they’re not yet considered warm leads. Marketing automation allows each team to play to their greatest strengths, allowing sales to focus their efforts on closing deals while still getting the most out of the written content produced by marketing — and saving everyone a significant amount of time. Getting new subscribers to make their first purchase is the first barrier to turning them into a longer-term paying customer. Especially in the case of new subscribers, once they make their first purchase, they will have a higher propensity to buy from you a second time (providing you give them a good experience on their first order). But many companies still don't have a proper welcome series set up to welcome new subscribers and turn them into new customers. That can be as few as one welcome email, or 4-5 of them, sent based on subscriber behavior. For example, send subscribers a promotion email, followed by an engagement email, and then a reminder of the promotion so they don't feel like you are always sending them emails with promotions. Make sure the look and design of each email separates it from the others, because the last thing you want is for your subscribers thinking they are continually being sent the same emails. After all the emails have been designed and the logic has been decided on, the next step is to create the actual workflows via your ESP's software. Most ESPs have a drag and drop interface that lets you create nodes with scenarios, and then connect them together to create the welcome series. An ESP with welcome series workflow functionality will have the necessary technology to track all the results from the welcome series. To track results properly, make sure you've determined beforehand which metrics you monitor and how those metrics affect or contribute to the overall goal of the project.
It is crucial that everyone be on board with the project and aware of the progress and the results from implementing the email welcome series. It is also important to report results to the senior stakeholders on a monthly basis to keep them up to date with progress of the project. But having work flow functionality opens up new ways of increasing customer acquisition and customer revenue. Marketing automation software (MAS) takes a huge load off your back by practically running your campaigns for you while giving you precise ROI metrics in real time.
Read on to see how you can turbocharge your marketing campaigns with this awesome power tool. So not only can you run a simple campaign with ease, but you can also run a complex campaign with the same ease, and even run multiple complex campaigns with no additional effort. For instance, suppose a new prospect visits your website for the first time and views a particular page. You can also tell the MAS to automatically inform anyone on your team whenever a prospect takes a specific action. The MAS can detect that this person is not yet a part of this campaign and send an email to this person with an email requesting more information about that person. If a person fills out a form, the MAS can automatically segment that person for specific future actions, and if that person does not respond to the campaign within a specified timeframe, other actions can then be triggered such as sending an additional email to the prospect or sending an email to a salesperson to follow up. In this case, the MAS can be set to create a task in the CRM telling a salesperson to follow up with a prospect who has taken a certain action in response to an online campaign. The more robust MAS platforms actually let you visually build your campaigns with a “drag and drop” flowchart interface. Marketing automation is truly the future of marketing, as online vehicles now constitute the central hub of communication between providers and customers. Now that you understand what your target customer is looking for, you can create an informed content strategy that will help transform web visitors into buyers.Turn the transmitter offCopywriting is still popularly viewed as a one way street. Earlier posts are on hiring new sales reps, onboarding the reps, setting the quota, and culture, managing and coaching.
According to a study by Demand Metric, 68% of companies reporting complete alignment achieved their revenue goals compared to 41% of those who reported no alignment.
While there is a myth that these days customers are 67% through the buyer’s journey before interacting with sales, in fact sales can add tremendous value throughout a complex sales cycle.
Sales then accepts most of these as Sales Accepted Opportunities and has conversations with them, too, making some of them Sales Dollarized Opportunities, and some of those turn into wins. Sales reps will often want to customize it for that particular prospect with unique language, the prospect’s logo, and deletion of inappropriate materials; each company will decide how much sales can customize their materials (in some highly regularly industries in particular, such as financial services, that may not be very much).
They may also discuss special cases that have come up during the past week and how to handle exceptions in the future, seasonal or quarterly variations (sales may not be able to respond as quickly in the last week of the quarter), and industry trends that may require the tightening or loosening of requirements. Some technologies are unique to the particular role, such as the proposal and contracts automation software available for Sales. But many CRM implementations fail to fully take advantage of the power of these systems, and according to some surveys a majority of CRM implementations fail due to a combination of unclear goals, poor planning, lack of executive buy-in, insufficient training and other factors.
Using third party services to add this information to the CRM can significantly cut down the research time needed by Sales. But if the CRM has clean data and account insights that save them time, makes sure that opportunities don’t fall through the crack, and makes it quicker and easier for them to generate their reports, they may come around. For example, let’s say a sales rep has presented a proposal to a prospect and then they go into radio silence.

On the consumer side predictive analytics is used by companies like Amazon, Netflix and Pandora to serve up recommended products to customers. In a recent survey, 97% of companies said that ABM provides somewhat or much higher ROI than other marketing initiatives.
This is an excellent case of a campaign Nuance did a few years back in which 75-80% of personalized packages sent via direct mail to senior executives led to meetings with the sales rep. And working out a written SLA, using the appropriate technology, and account-based marketing combined with targeted accounts programs are three methods that can make it happen.
You’ll find dozens of actionable strategies and tactics in my interviews with 10 sales and marketing leaders.
This is where I post my random thoughts on what I call "whole brain sales and marketing" -- the combination of fact-based insights possible as a result of the firehose of data provided on digital channels and new sales and marketing tools, and the intuitive connections and leaps that only people can make. Colder leads can be added to a nurturing track and edited to a sales-ready state before being passed back over to sales. Also, make sure to design different versions of the emails so you can split-test each email and keep optimizing the welcome series for the best possible conversion. MAS truly gives your marketing team an unfair advantage over your competition, letting you easily conduct concurrent multi-channel campaigns and track all of them at a glance. The system does all the work while you and your team leave early for happy hour to celebrate campaign success. The MAS can be set to automatically add all such prospects to a target list, then start to send a series of emails to those prospects at pre-set intervals. The MAS can also share every tracked prospect activity with the CRM so salespeople can see in real time the activity history of every prospect.
This frees you up to focus on dreaming up more exciting campaigns, instead of running yourself ragged trying to manually run just one simple campaign. All actions and conditional responses are represented with graphical icons which you can drag, arrange and connect to define your workflows. Today, the only way to connect with a high volume of prospects in a meaningful and timely manner is with automation. And if you are a MAS user yourself, please, add a comment to this blog about your experiences.
Many companies still believe that if they transmit for long enough, they will successfully sell to their target market.
In some companies, it may also involve breaking down “Sales is from Mars and Marketing is from Venus” distrust.
If summer is typically a slower season for MQLs, for example, then maybe the definition of an MQL needs to be relaxed for a couple months – with the recognition of that by both teams, and the understanding it will return to normal in September. But Sales and Marketing can significantly improve alignment by jointly using several technologies including a customer relationship management (CRM), marketing automation, sales enablement technology and predictive analytics. A month later they visit the website: the sales rep could be immediately notified of this and get in touch. And all the good ones are mobile-enabled, too, so sales people can access them just before or even in meetings.
B2B predictive analytics can be used to prioritize the sales leads, put lower quality leads into a nurture program and even suggest the messages that they’ll be most receptive to. I'll also be writing about creativity, technology, good books I've recently read, and who knows what else. Also, as Ali notes in her interview, having a lead score and grade in front of them gives reps incentive to pick up the phone and reach out, while feeling confident that they aren’t wasting their time on an unqualified prospect. All you have to do is set up automation rules that determine how the MAS conducts campaigns and responds to actions taken by your prospects in those campaigns. If a prospect opts out of emails at any time, the MAS will automatically stop sending emails to that person.
There are MAS platforms for every price point and level of volume and sophistication, from entry-level online email campaign platforms to full-blown enterprise MAS platforms, so one or several will be right for your organization. But, as the success of inbound marketing over traditional marketing shows, simply transmitting – or selling – with your content does not create great results. Some companies have facilitated alignment at the highest level with a VP of Sales and Marketing, or even by combining the two traditional departments into one Department of Revenue under a single VP or Chief Revenue Officer.
At the bottom of a recession the opportunity-to-win ratio may suffer, but response time and other metrics need not. In this scenario an alert could also be triggered, for example, by the prospect mentioning the company in a social media post.
And this is another more recent ABM campaign for, coincidentally, Nuance, which involved a more complex set of activities. Where there is historical distrust (“the leads from marketing are garbage”) or antipathy (“sales never acts on the great leads we provide them”), the first meeting or two may require a little clearing of the air by acknowledging historical problems.
Marketing may have research on the market, buyers, motivators, and so on, and Sales has the most experience of talking directly with buyers face to face and understanding what drives them. It’ll vary from company to company and industry to industry; consultancies like SiriusDecisions compile industry benchmarks. A strong, clear written message forms the core of marketing content for many businesses, from the big budget adverts – to the growth of business websites and SEO copywriting. For example, you want your new website to help you connect better with potential customers so you offer your web visitors complementary expertise in the form of a white paper. But try to get past any blame game and stay future-focused with a commitment to a common goal: increasing company revenue. In order to download the document, web visitors need to provide their details, giving you new prospect information to add to your database. Content is increasingly recognised as a business asset, whether it’s about making a sale – or making a great first impression. Then you can start nurturing them with automated targeted emails – instead of trying to do the hard sell when they first get to your website. Confirmation Bias, or the tendency to believe and even seek out data that confirms what we already believe, may also come into play for people from either discipline. So the thoughtful combining of data and experience from the two groups should produce the best profile: right out of the box you have the opportunity for fruitful cooperation. A better nurtured lead who responds to content that matches their particular needs and concerns at exactly the right time.
Plus, with more content out there, the greater the need is to project a clear, engaging narrative to potential clients. Companies now use copywriting to differentiate what they have to offer, by developing a clear tone of voice or house style.
Yet many companies still rely on using content on a one-off or small range blast that succeeds in nagging rather than nurturing.
Create an entire body of content that fits perfectly together to nurture your potential customer from a website visitor to a sales lead. To be truly effective, copywriting needs to be part of a well considered and carefully planned content and inbound marketing strategy, based on the specific demands and needs of your target audience. Instead of seeing it just as marketing collateral to sell to people, see it as material that can actively match your customer’s interests and concerns. This involves looking at the interests, the issues and the business pains of your target audience.
Keep this in mind to create a strategy as part of an inbound marketing approach which gives you content that is customer-focused, connected and commercially relevant.
It’s an approach that involves applying your own inside knowledge of your market alongside careful inbound marketing research to gain a current and commercially relevant insight into your target market’s behaviour. Understanding those elements and scheduling the content you’re going to write and promote will provide better long term results and help drive visitors, leads and customers.
These are invaluable basis understanding how to create a perfect fit between your content and your customer.

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