• June 30, 2008
  • By Jessica Tsai, Assistant Editor, CRM magazine

Sales and Marketing: One Big Happy Family?

Marketing solutions provider Genius.com, which focuses on lead generation and qualification, last week released its new solution MarketingGenius, built to work in conjunction with its existing SalesGenius product. Together, the two make up Genius Pro. The release addresses the concept of enhancing the quality of leads -- by doing so, the sales team can be significantly more effective in converting those leads into customers, which after all, is the ultimate objective of any business. 

"Our mantra is that everybody is in sales," says Parker Trewin, director of marketing communications at Genius.com. MarketingGenius allows marketers to send personalized email campaigns on behalf of the salesperson, tailored according to prospect activity -- who opened the email, what link was clicked on, what the prospect did on the company Web site (sees instant ad, chats, fills out Web form). This not only divides the workload, but brings marketing and sales closer together in a joint effort.

The highlight of the new release is the Genius Tracker, a screen on an individual’s desktop that looks similar to an instant messaging window. "You're notified right away when [a prospect] is looking at what you sent them and presumably that means it's a hotter opportunity -- it allows you to focus your time," says Barry Trailer, a partner at consultancy CSO Insights. Trailer says that the real appeal lies in the application's transparency: Both sales and marketing can instantly view how a lead is interacting with a campaign. From there, sales can make the final move and determine whether the prospect needs another email with a more specific offer, a personalized on-site promotion, or a phone call. The on-demand software can be downloaded within minutes and integrated with CRM software Salesforce.com within a few hours.

According to a study entitled "Improve Lead Generation and Clean Up Your Pipeline," by CSO Insights, and commissioned by Genius.com, the disconnect between marketing and sales results in 10 percent fewer closed deals, which translates into a 6 percent drop in revenue. The survey queried more than 2,000 sales and marketing professionals, and the results indicate that while 85 percent of marketers believe they are passing along qualified leads, 50 percent of salespeople say they are "unsatisfied with marketing efforts." 

"In a perfect world, you’d want 80, 90, 100 percent of your leads coming from marketing so sales can pursue them," Trailer says. "But the reality today is that at least 50 percent of leads are generated by the reps themselves, and only 30 percent come from marketing." Therefore, a tool that gives the sales team visibility into the entire cycle -- a tool that’s intuitive and not cumbersome -- is one that best suits this reality, he adds. 

"What the market really wants is leads, so whatever is the best system to generate high-quality and high-quantity leads, that's what the market is clamoring for today," says Jim Dickie, also a partner at CSO Insights.

Genius.com is just one of the players out there attempting to tackle this challenge. Marketing solutions provider Marketo, for example, announced its lead management solution in March. According to Jon Miller, vice president of marketing and cofounder of Marketo, Genius.com’s offering is limited in that everything begins only with email. Insight, he says, requires behavioral tracking beyond email. "We think that Genius is telling the right story," Miller says, "but they’re not really solving the whole problem because it doesn't have the lead database, the [lead-nurturing] process, or the multichannel perspective." Nevertheless, Miller admits that both companies are out there to address the dilemma of "organizational dysfunction and loss of revenue" as a result of sales and marketing not working together.

CSO Insights' Trailer agrees that both vendors are tackling an important, long-standing problem. To him, however, product comparisons are not what’s most pressing. "One of the things that product people get too caught up in is all the features," he says. "We have so many features now that people aren't using, we don't have to add more features. Let’s make the ones they are using easier, more bulletproof." User adoption, ease of use, user satisfaction, and impact on sales performance -- those are the criteria by which to judge the value of a solution, he says, and those are metrics that have yet to really take hold in this segment of the marketplace.

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