5 Reasons Why Marketing and Sales Technology Just Won’t Work

Several years ago I was on-site with a client discussing their desire to develop and implement a lead management process.  As part of the discussion we talked about the enabling technologies they were utilizing.  These technologies included a marketing automation platform and a CRM system.  Somewhere in the course of the conversation, one of the marketing folks in the room made the statement, “We have marketing automation, but it just doesn’t work.”  I was very intrigued by the comment and asked if they would explain further.   They went onto say that they had purchased the automation technology several years ago, but they only used it to send out survey links to customers. They used an entirely different system to send emails.   During my time with them, it soon became apparent that their CRM system was not faring much better either.  This company had invested in sound technology platforms, but in the words of the marketing manager, “they just weren’t working.”

This particular case is indicative of how many respond when things don’t work out as intended.  It’s easy to make the technology the scapegoat for failure. But blaming the “tool” is a knee-jerk reaction, often followed by replacing it with another, and then another.  The result?  A new cycle of inefficiency.

The issue of failing to get the maximum value from a technology investment is nothing new.  The failure, however, is seldom the fault of the actual technology.  The failure more often is the result of other variables.  With marketing automation and CRM, it’s not any different.  So, to help you out, here are our Top 5 reasons why marketing automation and CRM fail, and how to address them.

1.  You Don’t Have The Right People

I’m amazed at the number of organizations that buy off on technology without any forethought or planning with regard to the people part of the equation.  I’m not just talking about getting someone trained on the functionality of the solution.  What I mean is that in today’s B2B market, you need someone who knows marketing strategy, understands the buyer, and thinks about marketing and sales as a process. In addition, they need to view and understands how technology supportsthis process.  In other words, you need a B2B marketing expert, not just a marketing staffer who knows which buttons to click.

Before selecting a marketing technology solution, do an assessment of your people to ensure they have the following characteristics:

  • Knowledgeable About Direct Marketing
  • A Process-Based Approach to Lead Management
  • Markets by the Numbers
  • An Understanding and Willingness to Work With Sales
  • Understanding of Role of Technology

2. You Fell For The “It’s So Easy” Sales Line

Many vendors are out there proclaiming how easy it is to implement their Marketing Automation or CRM technology.  Offers such as “Try us for Free for 30 days”, or promises like “You’ll be up and running in less than 5-days” make one think that marketing and sales technologies are simple plug and play tools.  However, if marketing and sales in the ever-changing B2B world requires diligence, process, and a well developed strategy, then what makes anyone think that implementing marketing or sales technology would be any different?  Unfortunately, too many B2B organizations are falling for these empty promises, investing significantly, and ending up with a return of unrealized expectations.

To avoid this trap, it’s imperative to understand that “simple” and “easy” are not necessarily the key identifiers you should be looking for when shopping for marketing and sales technologies.  Instead, first make sure that you have a sound strategy for engaging with your buyers at a 1-1 level.  Once that strategy is in place, then look for technologies that will enable you to best execute and build an engagement relationship based on your strategy.    Taking this approach is not easy, but if you truly want to get the most from your marketing and sales technology investment, a buyer engagement strategy is the best approach.

3.  Your Content Is Irrelevant

With the number of messages that are thrown in front of buyers each and every day, it’s a shame to think that many organizations are still not paying more attention to their content. 

A recent Landing Page Studyconducted by Silverpop found that up to 50% of readers will leave a page within 8 seconds.  Why?  Because the content on those pages isn’t relevant and it does nothing to engage them to want to learn more about the product or service being promoted.  Timely and relevant content is a key to successful relationship marketing. If your message doesn’t resonate with your buyer, they’ll move on to the next vendor until they find one with whom they can relate.

In order to address this issue, develop a content map that defines the buying cycle of your customers. Then (in collaboration with sales) determine what content should be delivered along each phase of the buying cycle.  Some of this content will be delivered by marketing (early on in the cycle via marketing automation) and some will be delivered by sales (later on in the cycle via integration between CRM and the marketing automation system).   Developing a content mapping strategy is the best way to ensure you are building the necessary relationship with your buyer.  For most organizations this will mean having to develop new content. If you don’t know what content to produce, go to your buyers and ask them what is most important to them. Believe me, they’ll tell you if you ask.

4.  You Have Serious Data Issues

The level of neglecting marketing and sales data in most organizations is quite staggering.  Yet, it’s one of the greatest obstacles to marketing campaign success and ROI. Often, the fallacy is that because there is a marketing automation and/or  CRM system in place (and the two are integrated), the data will be maintained and kept valid. Nothing could be more false.  

As posted on the Reachforce blog– SiriusDecisions states, “The company that markets with a healthy data-cleansing routine can realize nearly 70% more revenue than an ‘average’ organization, based purely on data quality.”  In another study, MarketingSherpa found that 2.1% of contact data goes bad every month. This means each year over 25% of your contact data gets dirty. 

These comments and statistics only underscore the need for organizations to develop and implement a data management and hygiene strategy.  This includes processes for data validation, data segmentation, data standardization, de-duplication rules and data control.  Without good data, your marketing and sales activities will be severely limited and your chances for any kind of return will decrease dramatically.

5.  You Have No Process

In one of our earlier blog posts, we cited a recent study conducted by Frost & Sullivan where 44% of those polled said the biggest obstacle to success with their marketing automation platform was a lack of process.  The lack of process is not solely a marketing automation problem. It also bleeds into the sales realm negatively affecting the value companies are getting from their CRM solutions.

According to Aberdeen, “Developing an internal lead management process is key to marketing & sales success”.  Notice they did not say it was technology that was most important, but process.  Yet we see company after company buying CRM and marketing automation as an answer to their problems.  It usually ends in failure.

Companies that want to succeed with their marketing and sales technology implementations need to take a process first approach. They need to view CRM and Marketing Automation as enablement solutions.  We refer to this as a Lead Management FrameworkTM . When this framework is developed, implemented and then enabled by technology, the return on technology investment increases dramatically.