It’s almost impossible to overstate the impact of marketing automation in modern sales organizations. Generally, even companies that lack a formal customer relationship management (CRM) solution have access to similar tools that offer a degree of marketing automation (however inadequate they are).
But what if the entire concept of marketing automation simply vanished from our collective memories? Would modern business—or at least B2B sales—even be possible in its current form?
To understand how valuable this technology is, let’s do a little thought experiment, and imagine a world without marketing automation.
Collecting and analyzing customer data is hard work. In the days before marketing and sales automation, it was slow and expensive to even gather basic customer information, and it would only deliver broad and imprecise results.
If you wanted to know the average customer lifecycle, someone would have to go through mountains of carbon-copied sales forms, and note:
Unless the individual sales rep kept great notes about their prospects (which is a rarity, even in efficient sales organizations), it would be nearly impossible to establish lead scores, develop lead nurturing programs, or track the performance of lead generation campaigns.
In the pre-internet business world, marketing and sales were almost always distinct organizations that operated independently of one another. Marketing created the messaging, identified possible customer groups, and collected lists of possible customers. But sales was responsible for sorting through these customers, finding genuine prospects, winning customers, and keeping those customers happy.
Sales and marketing divisions were often intensely competitive with each another. For instance, they regularly withheld data from each other. This siloed approach to customer data often prevented executives from seeing the big picture, and made it almost impossible to develop a unified marketing-driven sales funnel.
Before digital analytics, it was almost impossible to segment customers with any degree of precision. You might be able to make a few broad assumptions based on hints like zip codes or industry norms, but time-consuming projects like customer surveys were required to learn anything more precise. It was possible to create detailed customer segments. But this undertaking was expensive, and only the biggest companies could justify it.
At that time, customer segmentation could take months (or even years). But with modern CRM, this research can now be done in a matter of moments.
Imagine trying to sift through “traditional” media campaigns to see how people were learning about your brand. Or when looking for prospects, busting out the Yellow Pages instead of typing information into a search bar. It’s absurd. There would be no way to find customer conversations, reach out to prospects, or gain insights into customer behaviors.
Very few salespeople enjoy the slow, patient, plodding process of nurturing leads. Remember to follow up on every “maybe next month” sales conversation. However promising this situation sounds, it requires serious dedication and a long-term focus. This industry is dominated by people who want to move every deal forward as soon as possible, because they want their commission checks to keep rolling in.
So a careful seed-planting approach tends to be rare. But it becomes much easier with CRM, which automatically provides updates and reminders to the sales team.
How many successful businesses would willingly go back to a time before marketing and sales automation? It would be like giving up air conditioning, email, and smartphones. Sure, it would be survivable, but what a headache!
There’s no question that marketing automation has:
To learn more about bringing CRM and marketing automation, check out our white paper.