Last week’s announcement of the $2.5 billion acquisition of ExactTarget by Salesforce.com had the marketing automation space buzzing – with good reason. Sales force optimization remains a key objective for most companies, and marketing automation is quickly asserting itself as a primary contributor to sales force effectiveness.
Salesforce.com has long recognized the benefits in automating customer relationships, but the move last week confirms that the company views the marketing cycle as an important contributor to optimizing B-to-B sales force automation. It’s clear Salesforce.com understands the power of marketing automation.
It Starts With a Click
Rare is the sale today that doesn’t start with a mouse-click. From the Pew Research Center to Gartner, study after study shows the marketplace, b2b or b2c, conducting online research prior to a purchase. Through its acquisition, Salesforce.com recognizes the benefit in tracking lead behavior from the first point of contact.
80% Do Not Buy at First Contact
Marketers understand that most prospects require multiple touch points to be effective. Using a marketing automation system like Lead Liaison’s Lead Management Automation™ platform, an enterprise sales force can manage each relationship prior to the sales engagement. Lead nurturing through MA saves sales agents time; Salesforce.com has shown that it understands how critical lead nurturing is to sales force optimization.
Cold Opportunities Get Hot
Research has shown that just because a prospect doesn’t convert immediately into a sales opportunity, that prospect should remain a lead. Sirius Decisions found that nearly 80% of qualified leads that don’t buy initially go on to make a purchase within 24 months. Marketing automation provides the tool to maintain TOMA throughout that period. This factor, among others, has led vendors like Lead Liaison to focus on SFDC integration in order to provide a seamless transition between platforms.
Changing Marketing Automation Landscape
As MA becomes an integral part of sales force automation, companies like Salesforce.com, Marketo, and Lead Liaison must continue to improve their offerings to adapt to evolving marketing and sales practices. But as the evolution of marketing automation continues, one business principle remains constant: providing quality support following implementation is important to effective sales force automation. Without customer-centricity, some MA/CRM vendors may face the same fate as early dot.com failures – even in the wake of a $2.5 billion transaction.