Successful inbound marketing is about more than just driving traffic to your site and converting it into leads. What happens to those leads after they become part of your database? If the answer is "nothing," or "they get contacted by the sales team," then your inbound marketing strategy needs some serious marketing automation love.
4 Ways Marketing Automation Shortens the Sales Cycle
1. Marketing automation lets you score leads for quality and relevance.
That means leads only get to the sales team when they're qualified and ready to purchase. Being able to prioritize leads this way ensures your sales team spends time speaking with people who have already identified their problem and been educated on how you can help them solve it. This dramatically increases the likelihood that the sales person will win the prospect's business with far less time required to do so than with someone with a lower lead score.
2. Marketing automation educates people so Sales doesn't have to.
Okay, that's not totally true, but the content delivered by your marketing automation software certainly does. Gone are the days of sales people convincing prospects they want it, they need it, and they just can't live without it. With marketing automation, leads are nurtured via behavior-based triggers that indicate what prospects are interested in, and thus what content should be delivered to help educate them.
This shortens the sales cycle by removing the guess work for a salesperson. Instead of wasting time selling something a prospect doesn't need, prospects actually tell you what they're interested in based on what they read, download, and opt in to. Now your sales person can continue that education process with a very targeted conversation based on the prospect's needs, as opposed to figuring it out on the phone after trying to sell things that aren't relevant to those needs.
Harvard Business Review reported that companies that contact prospects in an hour or less are 7 times more likely to have a meaningful conversation with key decision-makers than those who wait longer. Marketing automation allows you to set up events that trigger not just a quick response, but also a relevant one for the prospect at the exact time they're looking for you. By responding right when a prospect (or key decision-maker!) signals interest, your sales person gets to be the one providing solutions for someone exactly when they're looking for it, greatly increasing the chance of an expeditious close.
4. Marketing automation makes follow-up easier, faster, and more personalized.
Ready for the understatement of the year? Sales teams are busy. Well, the good ones are. Yours probably knows how crucial follow-up is to closing a deal, but when it isn't automated, it is one of the easiest things to fall through the cracks. Busy sales professionals are then faced with having to backtrack with prospects and rebuild relationships after long periods of silence.
Once sales and marketing define a follow-up process together, marketing automation allows you to implement it for all different segments of leads. This applies to leads that have already been worked, too, and have been put back into the lead nurturing queue. If a lead needs more nurturing, marketing automation ensures you stay on their radar, and when they make it back to the bottom of your funnel, they're even more prepared to purchase than during their first sales cycle.
The power of marketing automation lies in its agility. Marketers can adjust campaigns in real time, learn from mistakes, capitalize on successes, and deliver content that helps prospects. All of these capabilities help transform a lead from a mere database entry to a prospect with very specific problems, behaviors, and interests, giving your sales team the information they need to personalize the sales process and ultimately accelerate it for more closes and more happy customers.