Earlier this month, marketing automation vendor eTrigue released its new SalesPro solution for Salesforce CRM users. The standalone software-as-a-service (SaaS) product is built on Salesforce.com's AppExchange caters to the needs of sales professionals who want to keep track of their leads early on in the sales pipelines and engage in personalized discussions based on a visitor's Web activity. Moreover, with unlimited emailing capabilities, salespeople can send trackable emails and maintain customer and prospect relationships.
"Marketing automation is in its infancy," says Jim Meyer, vice president and general manager at eTrigue. According to the company's internal research, only approximately 3 to 5 percent of the B2B market takes advantage of marketing automation solutions. "Many organizations just don't have the process maturity to implement effective programs," he says-add that to the fact that the typical buying cycle has become "chaotic" in what Meyers calls an "ADHD buying process." Consequently, the traditional buying process that begins with marketing owning the top of the funnel, nurturing and allowing the lead to mature, then passing it down to sales, isn't true anymore, he says.
SalesPro is intended to empower the sales team when marketing isn't ready to engage in marketing automation or demand generation. Therefore, with SalesPro, he says, "sales can still get the benefits of that tracking and letting them know what customers or leads are doing with regards to their interaction with the company and use that information to sell more effectively until marketing can get up to speed."
Laura Ramos, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, says that she's only on board with the solution if it keeps marketing in control, which she says, eTrigue assured her of. "I'm not a big fan of these sales enablement kinds of applications," Ramos says. While she agrees that a solution like eTrigue may be better than a straight cold call, sales should not be looking for a solution that usurps the need for marketing. "It's marketing's job to put the best qualified leads in front of sales," she says. "If marketing is doing its job, then sales should have plenty of leads, and not have to spend their time cold calling-or using tools that see what's happening on the Web site-to determine who they're going to call." If all the tool is doing is having sales do what's marketing's job, then it's not scalable, she says. "You should have economies of scale and efficiency by having a tighter alignment between who you target and message toward and the leads that respond to that marketing."
Meyers sees sales and marketing increasingly sharing the funnel, particularly when the initial interactions take place on the company Web site. "If someone comes to your site and you don't have a lot of information, just a title and name, it really does behoove you to have a sales person contact that individual," he says. What this allows salespeople to get, Meyers says, is buy time-that is, what the consumer's buying timeline is.
In a qualitative study of over 200 sales representatives and 18 sales managers, eTrigue identified that the pain point many sales professionals were feeling was precisely incapacity to take action when the lead was hot. Meyers contends that salespeople who can engage a Web visitor within 30 minutes of someone being on the site, are supposedly 10 times more likely to get them on the phone and six times more likely to qualify that prospect. "Companies don't give sales the tools they need," Meyers says. "It was a real eye-opener for us."
Ramos says that marketing must be the one to set up parameters around factors such as scoring and tracking. She does credit eTrigue for its ease of use and flexible scoring capabilities. For companies that believe they can get away with having only a solution like SalesPro, and toss aside the value of overall marketing, Ramos says that the Web traffic, for one, will dry up very quickly. In any case, SalesPro can almost be used as a "party trick," that can help put a number of marketing objectives. "There's more to marketing than just generating leads, but it's hard to account for some of those activities," she says. "This kind of solution helps establish a connection between what marketing does and what sales sees."
Meyers does clarify that either marketing or sales can control the SalesPro solution, adding that he does see many companies giving marketing controlling access to the solution. Nevertheless, SalesPro is intended to reach a new audience-that is, the sales-focused audience-that, according to Meyers, extends eTrigue's marketing automation expertise to a group that "needs something a little more affordable." (SalesPro is available at $500 for 10 users per month, and $49.95 for each additional user.)
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