Last month, DemandResults sent a team of CRM and marketing automation specialists to Dallas to meet a sales team consisting of approximately 100 B2B software reps and 20 sales engineers. Our primary mission: introduce and train the company’s sales team in the use of a powerful set of marketing automation tools that would transform the way that they do business. Our secondary, but no less crucial mission: get the sales team excited about it.
For this project, the platform of choice was Marketo, an impressive marketing automation suite that integrates quite seamlessly with Salesforce to not only drive more leads, but give the sales team critical behavioral information that influences their sales strategy (disclosure: DemandResults is a proud Marketo Alliance Partner and also a Salesforce AppExchange Partner). As anyone with enterprise-level CRM experience knows, a CRM is only as good as the information that sales reps put into it. This directly affects marketing automation software too, as Marketo attempts to match demographic information and behavioral activities on prospects with data already in the CRM in order to score lead and customer profiles. The higher the user adoption rate, the more powerful it is.
This launch was a resounding success. First, the pilot program yielded results that could not have been achieved without Marketo. Secondly, the company’s SVP of Sales – who had once been understandably resistant to the idea of introducing yet another sales tool – went on record before the executive team that after witnessing the results of the project, he was now “drinking the Kool-Aid.” He also laid down the law to his sales team that Marketo use was mandatory.
The secret to successful system deployments aren’t necessarily technical, but rather tactical. After reflecting on this latest project, here are our top 3 tactical tips:
1– Involve the Sales Team in Early Planning Stages – Very often, marketing automation platforms are desired, researched and purchased by progressive members of a company’s marketing team. Since their jobs often depend on their ability to drive leads, they inherently want the latest and greatest tools available.
Sales teams, on the other hand, are often indifferent or even adverse to anything that might alter their existing process. As a result, the sales team is often left out of the loop for the most important part of the project – the strategic and configuration stages. This can be absolutely devastating; remember that companies are built around sales, not marketing. Thus, it’s important to involve the most important members of a sales team and ask them the most important question: “if you could wave a magic wand and make the system do something that would help your job, what would it be?” More often than not, the system can be configured to do what they asked for. Later, when it’s time to test the system, the sales team will be more invested in the project.
2 – Start with A Pilot Group of Prime Movers – In an enterprise-level company, it’s inadvisable to begin testing the system with the entire sales team. Work with executives to handpick a group of early adopters on the sales and marketing team who will be able to provide valuable feedback about the results of early tests. On the sales side, these should be effective sellers who are already heavily committed to using CRM. Start by involving them in one strategic campaign, touching base early and often to make sure that the system is wowing them with business intelligence that makes them more successful.
3 – Promote Early Successes – Were any leads progressed to a near-committed sales stage during the pilot program? What was actually sold? Were there unforeseen benefits that impressed members of the pilot group? Celebrate success from the pilot group at the beginning of company-wide training. The most difficult part is actually getting users to involve marketing automation in their daily routine.
As with any set of truly powerful tools, configuring Marketo use and implementation is an evolving project, as it becomes clearer over time how to best leverage it for each scenario and each organization. A strong initial deployment can set the entire project up for long-term success.