You’ve seen the Subject Lines in your Inbox:

“Marketing Automation Saves the Day!”

“Transform your Lead Conversion Rates by 400%!”

“Turn Marketing into a Revenue Center vs. a Cost Center!”

Ah yes, the promise of the Marketing Automation / Sales Automation / Sales Acceleration / Customer Relationship Management technologies. In a relatively short amount of time you can implement one or more of these software suites and platforms and then just sit back and enjoy the influx of new leads that automation will uncover for you without, Heaven forbid, actually making a cold call…

But does it sound, as the saying goes, too good to be true and therefore probably is?

Marketing Automation, Sales Automation and CRM platforms all have noble intentions. Essentially they are designed to capture and organize customer and potential customer data, analyze for activity and patterns / trends, apply ‘rules’ to score for priority, and provide Sales teams with qualified leads to call on and a database of information for marketing campaigns.

It all sounds good; however, as succinctly stated by Justin Gray, CEO of LeadMD, they are not meant to be stand-alone solutions;

“A solution that delivers value without effort – If only you could just buy marketing automation technology, then sit back and watch the results produce themselves. But no… Marketing automation is a journey.

If you think it’s at all like a light switch that you can just flip on, you will fail. If you think you don’t need a strategy or can afford to just skip over the planning process, you’ll also be quick to fail.”

In a nutshell, Marketing Automation and Sales Automation technologies are all enablers, tools, not magic bullets or an end unto themselves. The key is knowing when to include Sales in the process as the intent here is not to replace Salespeople, but to empower them.

With a plethora of new technologies in the marketplace, just how much can these automated lead generators actually identify, and qualify, real prospects’ business challenges, and their real timelines?

And just for fun, in Canada we now have the new “Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation” (CASL) to contend with that effectively prohibits B2B organizations to send Commercial Electronic Messages without the recipient’s permission. So forget the ‘batch’ emailed pitches on your product or service (not that they ever were effective anyway), but even less so now as you must first gain permission before sending any emails that have a ‘sales’ intent.

So where does that put us?

Here are some key questions you should analyze your Sales process for before considering implementing one or more of these technologies:

How are prospects / leads currently being generated and vetted? Are they from basic lists, or is there some intelligence at this point to identify which companies may have a need, and when, for your products or services? How are they being handled now between Marketing and Sales? What ‘hit or conversion’ rates are you currently realizing?

This is critical to understand upfront because you can have the most high-scoring ‘suspects’ or qualified leads as per Marketing, but have absolutely no idea of where their actual areas of business challenges are for Sales to work with. And since, at least in Canada, you can’t ‘guess’ and start sending out emails with what you hope is relevant content to try to ‘jog’ something in their minds (and a person anonymously viewing your company website a few times is not a Lead), someone has to actually pick up the phone, and make a Sales call.

Yes, a Sales call. Because if you can’t identify where their business challenges are, where their ‘pain’ is, then you will be unable to align your solutions to solving their issues and they will remain with the status quo. Change involves time and money… why change if nothing, as they see it, is broken?

In summary, while these new Marketing and Sales Automation technologies may help quite a bit at the beginning of the Sales Process in identifying better Prospects to go after and which ones to ignore (equally important), the actual Sales Process itself cannot be automated. It would be very useful to remember that Sales is a Profession, not an Application.

If you are unsure of how to properly generate and qualify potential Sales Prospects, outsourcing this function to a company that has extensive experience in determining ‘real’ opportunities from the time-wasters is a valid option to consider. We will identify and qualify the type of Sales Prospect that is most probable to have the type of business challenges your solutions can be aligned to (your Target Market), thus greatly increasing your Sales Effectiveness!

About the Author:

Martin Beauclair is an Entrepreneur, Business Leader and Active Supporter of Start-up Communities.  For the past 20+ years he has launched and managed numerous technology product offerings, serving as Sr. Vice-President of Sales & Business Development at IgeaCare Group of Companies, Vice-President of Sales and Marketing at GlobeStar Systems and Director of Sales & Marketing at Edwards Systems Technology (Now GE Security).

Today Martin heads up Access2Sales as CEO, and recently founded FalconRidge Trading, a related Strategic Sales company.

Martin is a certified ADMA (Accredited Professional Administrator), a member of the AMA (American Marketing Association) and both UPSA & CPSA Professional Sales Associations.  He is a graduate of the Harvard Business School (AMP), a bilingual BAA (Bachelor in Business Administration) from the University of Ottawa, and also holds an MBA in International Business Management from Laval University.

He is currently pursuing his PhD in Business Administration at the University of Phoenix, and is a self-proclaimed ‘life-long learner’.

But what ultimately drives him at the end of the day?  Simply,

“To Grow Companies by Creating and Leading High Performance Sales Teams.”