How Small to Mid-Sized Businesses Can Use Marketing Automation to Sell Smarter, Not Harder

September 23, 2014 Sam Laber

The following post was written by Ryan Schefke, Revenue Performance Specialist at Lead LiaisonRyan has held various senior positions in sales and marketing at large, mid-size and early-stage startup companies over a span of 17 years. Ryan holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from Michigan State University and a MBA with a concentration in finance from New York Institute of Technology.


Sales prospecting is not easy. Sales people need a combination of tools to be effective sales prospectors — solutions like LinkedIn, Datanyze, SalesLoft, Data.com, ZoomInfo and others provide great resources to help identify target companies and contacts.

That’s the research part. Then there’s the execution part. What do you do when you’re ready to actually start reaching out to prospects?

Following up takes time, time you don’t have

The reality is that most people ‘email and bail’. In other words, they don’t pick up the phone, because they don’t have the time to invest in phone conversations with 100s of prospects. They send a quick email, cross their fingers hoping they get a response and then move on to the next person. There’s no going back to follow up on outreach, no consistency and no persistency… just wasted time with less than 1% conversion.

Unfortunately, there’s no one perfect prospecting solution. I’ve never come across a sales person wearing an ‘I Love Prospecting’ t-shirt, that’s for sure.

Over my 20 years of professional sales experience, I’ve seen how companies do prospecting first hand. I’ve been able to boil down why prospecting is such a pain in the butt and why nobody likes doing it. In short, prospecting is hard, because salespeople don’t have the time to be persistent, there’s more pressure to close business rather than create it and it usually takes more than one touch (especially in B2B sales) to earn someone’s trust and for them to be confident that you’re not some fly by night ‘sales guy’ looking for a quick hit.

Lack of persistence and loss of focus plague small to mid-sized companies even more than large enterprises, because smaller businesses have limited sales resources. Management wants their sales team to close more deals, leading everyone to start thinking that “it’s a numbers game”. That saying drives me crazy, because it’s not just a numbers game — it’s a numbers game and a quality game. In my mind, businesses must learn to use sales prospecting tools like LinkedIn in tandem with marketing automation tools such as Lead Liaison, to make life easier and apply persistent, systematic approaches to the sales process.

Unfortunately, ‘marketing automation’ is a misleading name, mainly because it doesn’t take into account how the underlying technology can help salespeople. Let me tell you why marketing automation is ideal for sales automation.

Setting up marketing automation for sales

We recently built out what we call a ‘chase workflow’ with a marketing automation platform to help salespeople follow up with leads by automating 90% of the outreach effort. The automated process frees up sales resources and helps them stay focused on their pipeline. Here’s how you can implement a chase workflow for your small to mid-sized company using marketing automation.

First, work out the communication pattern with your sales team. Ask them how an ideal prospecting effort would look. Once marketing and sales are in agreement, build a workflow in your marketing automation platform similar to the one in the diagram below.

Next, meet with your sales team to help them understand how they can use this sales prospecting workflow to their advantage. Once they find a prospect who is an ideal buyer, have them add the lead/contact to their CRM, send out a personalized email and add them to the workflow.

The first two steps, marked in yellow, indicate the aforementioned manual steps. From that point forward, the prospect will receive personalized communication from the sales rep, while the system does the ‘chasing’ on the rep’s behalf. About half way through the process — in this case, on Day 5 — the system adds a reminder to the CRM on the lead/contact record for the salesperson to call the prospect. Best of all, when your prospect engages by clicking links in your email or visiting your company’s website, the sales person will get an instant SMS alert on their mobile phone and/or an email.

Selling smarter, not harder, is the wave of the future. Use marketing automation workflows to improve efficiency, ensure your business scales with ease and reap the rewards of a hyper-efficient sales organization.

About the Author

Sam Laber

Sam is the director of marketing at Datanyze. He's a big John Hughes fan who occasionally fills the DZ office with the sweet sweet sounds of 90s rock giant, Creed.

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