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5 Steps to Sales Buy-In on Marketing Automation

One of the most important (although often overlooked) aspects in the adoption of marketing automation is the necessity of buy-in from sales. Marketing automation impacts the entire buying cycle; the quickest way to success is through collaborating with your sales team and helping them to see as much value from the platform as you do.

Say you’ve implemented a marketing automation platform (and you’re in love), but your sales team is still resistant to incorporating a new tool into their workflow. Maybe they were opposed to implementing marketing automation from the start, and felt it was uprooting a system that was already working. Maybe they’re open to this new approach but can’t seem to find the time to learn the software. Whatever the reason, if your sales team isn’t using your marketing automation system, you’re missing out on one of its most powerful benefits (aligning sales and marketing), and it’s time to get them on board.

Let’s take a look at five ways you can get your sales team excited about using marketing automation.

Step 1: Ask the right questions. Sales feedback will be crucial to the success of your marketing automation platform — after all they’re the ones that regularly interact directly with your prospects, and are most familiar with the prospects’ needs. Sit down before you even begin setting up your processes and answer the following questions with your sales team:

  • Who is your ideal buyer? What indicates a good fit for your product?
  • What actions taken on your site might indicate that a prospect is ready to speak to a sales rep?
  • What ratio of sales engagements currently result in a closed deal? What steps can your teams take towards improving this ratio?
  • How long is the typical sales cycle?
  • What are some of the areas in which sales reps are having difficulty positioning your product?

The answers to the questions above will be crucial to helping you build out some basic functionality within your platform, and will help your sales team understand that you’re building out processes that will impact the entire sales cycle.

Step 2: Highlight the right features.  A flashy new WYSIWYG email editor — cool tool for you; probably somewhat less exciting to a sales rep. The daily routines of your sales and marketing teams are very different (to state the obvious). The aspects of marketing automation that excite you will not be the same for them, so think about some of their daily responsibilities and what features of this platform can address their pain points. Features like real-time sales alerts and a blended lead scoring and grading model can get sales reps excited about a product they may have thought was only beneficial to marketers.

Step 3: Find your trailblazer.  How would you like it if someone on your sales team came by your desk and started advising you on how to do your job? Your sales reps are going to feel the same way if these messages are coming only from you. So pick one of your highest-performing sales reps who’s open to new ideas, and ideally, also comfortable and proficient with new technology. Make sure they understand marketing automation from a sales perspective: how it can save sales reps time, identify qualified leads and allow for more targeted follow-up. Then let this sales rep be an evangelist for the platform and explain its value to the rest of their team; it always helps to hear things from someone who truly understands their circumstances.

Step 4: Put it into action.  Luckily, some of the most automation basic features also happen to be the most impactful for your sales team: automated lead qualification and lead nurturing. Show them how these features are working. Walk them through your blended scoring and grading model (which should be based on their answers from step one), and show them how your automated lead assignment is set up. It shouldn’t take much time and can be as simple as three short emails, but create a simple drip program that a sales rep could use for a prospect they’ve already spoken with. Demonstrating the value by creating a tool your sales can immediately implement can win over even the harshest of critics. And be sure to get their feedback, too: your sales reps know the usual time frame that prospects prefer between touch points, so their insights can help you improve your campaigns.

Step 5: Do some creative problem-solving.  Every sales team is different, so sit down with your sales reps 1:1 and figure out their particular needs. Maybe they are interested to see which prospects are visiting a particular page, or they want to be notified immediately when a prospect takes a certain action. Marketing automation can have many benefits beyond the basic features, so figure out how to use the insight it provides to solve problems creatively.

Above all, don’t force marketing automation on your sales team — if they understand the basics but aren’t jumping at the chance to use it, there’s a reason that they’re not seeing value. First understand their needs and then try to address these needs with marketing automation. Once your sales team understands the ways that marketing automation can benefit them, your collaborative use of this tool can improve communication and unify efforts.

Want to hear how our own Pardot sales team uses marketing automation? We’ve compiled insights and advice — straight from the sales reps — in our eBook, 25 Marketing Automation Tips Straight from Sales. Check it out!

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