As part of our professional development program my agency invited in some representatives from Eloqua, the marketing automation company. I’ve previously written about the company and how it helps some of our clients manage their marketing and sales efforts.
One of Eloqua’s biggest challenges is getting their customers to understand all the things their software can do, besides simply report on email campaigns. Since more and more of our clients are investing in marketing automation and looking to Strategic for counsel, it was a win-win for Eloqua to come out and demo their functionality for our staff.
One thing Shawn Cook and Jonathan Parrott hammered home was the dramatic shift in how selling is done. This change coincides with the rise of the Internet and social media, which puts massive amounts of information and power in the hands of the buyer. Shawn quoted research showing that 70% of the decision process is done prior to contacting a salesperson.
So a salesperson adds absolutely no value unless he or she can add value to the process, tell the buyer something they did not know previously. This was referred to as the “Challenger” type of salesperson, who is far more effective than a straight relationship builder or hard worker. It’s a new world out there for sales — forget your favorite Glengarry Glen Ross quotes.
Shawn and Jonathan also talked about bridging the gap between the marketing and sales departments within a company. This really resonated with us, because its something we deal with on almost every engagement. Marketing and sales will have different strategies for producing more revenue, often not even agreeing on what a “lead” is.
Eloqua’s view is that the only way to increase sales and lower costs is to focus on automated marketing tactics powered by data driven analysis that improves the conversion rate. That’s what they call Revenue Performance Management or RPM, and it was a persuasive presentation.
Across their 1,200 clients Shawn said Eloqua has over 3 billion “prospects under management,” and this enables the company to provide clients with lots of best practices and templates so they don’t need to start from scratch.
After this presentation I’m in a far stronger position to counsel clients using Eloqua as their automation platform. Perhaps as important, I can also lay out the reasoning behind the need for automation if they are currently evaluating how to improve their marketing efficiency.
I also came away thinking about the importance of lead nurturing and lead scoring. Unless I have visibility into these processes, I can’t help clients maximize the impact of the content marketing strategies my teams are executing on for them.
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