• July 14, 2008
  • By Jessica Tsai, Assistant Editor, CRM magazine

¡Viva la Revolucion!

The lack of coordination and communication between marketing and sales has been entrenched in the cultures of many companies, resulting in nearly $1 trillion in wasted opportunities, according to Phil Fernandez, chief executive officer at Marketo, a provider of marketing automation software. In light of that, Fernandez says, it’s going to take a revolution in thought, particularly among senior executives, before technology can ever successfully solve the problem -- and help increase sales. That may explain the approach Marketo has taken with its new Lead Insight for Sales product announcement today, a launch that, according to the company, focuses on promoting a "Revenue Revolution." 

Fernandez estimates that half of a salesperson’s time is spent on prospecting for customers -- essentially poking around in the dark, hoping someone will take the bait. Meanwhile, he says, 80 percent of marketing leads are left hanging. "It’s just stupid," he says. "What companies need is a single process, a single revenue pipeline." The company first released the beta version of its flagship product Lead Management last October, before formally releasing it this past March. The lead management tool helps marketers kick off the process by meeting prospective buyers online then nurturing those leads before passing them onto sales. With the new Lead Insight software, sales can pick up where marketing leaves off: learning about their leads, prioritizing them, and receiving alerts to lead activity. Both technologies are built on the same platform and work seamlessly together, according to the company. But it’s not about the technology, Fernandez says; the "big problem," he adds, is to not work together. If companies can finally get that right, he says, there’s a huge opportunity waiting or them.

"For too long, senior management has thought of ‘the number’ as a sales responsibility," says Barry Trailer, a partner at research and benchmarking firm CSO Insights. "In fact, it’s really a company’s number." Typically, the most direct line attached to revenue is the one tied to sales goals, whereas marketing is thought of as what Fernandez calls "the money pit": a place where funds go in and never come out. However, Trailer says, when it comes to revenue generation as a whole, it’s clearly a companywide responsibility. Therefore, the motivation to align sales and marketing starts at the top. Fernandez says that Marketo's notion of a Revenue Revolution doesn't center on a product. "It has to start with a vision and a commitment in the company to know there's a better way," he says.

Once companies have their direction mapped out, software will certainly be necessary to bring that vision to fruition. Lead Insight for Sales includes functionalities such as:

  • lead management capabilities (lead nurturing, lead scoring, and workflow automation)
  • sales alerting;
  • lead activity tracking;
  • Microsoft Outlook integration;
  • Salesforce.com integration; and
  • email campaign management.

Marketo boasts of the power contained in its easy-to-use, on-demand, cost-effective solution, and promises that the offering can transform operations not just quickly -- within a week, according to the company --  but, more important, within a tight budget. This bodes well for the company, especially given Trailer's prediction that the solution with the "tightest" integration, simplest interface, and most intuitive processes will be the one that comes out on top.  

While Fernandez and the team at Marketo are excited to see marketing and sales finally working together, Trailer may not be so quick to call the game over just yet. "It’s certainly been talked about long enough," he says. "It’s inevitable that it will happen, but is it really happening? I sure want to believe it." No doubt, it’s been a long time coming. In the '80s, he says, the focus was on quality, and the '90s were about innovation. Trailer says that he hopes, by the end of the '00s, "people will look back and see that sales and marketing finally got their act together."

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