"Certain events, in combination, will increase the likelihood of a sale, and some of those triggers will be unpredictable."
Similarly, sales representatives will behave differently. Some will be more successful than others, and there will be reasons for that. A good sales manager will want to know how successful sales people behave. Over time, patterns will emerge, patterns that can be turned into best practices and accurate forecasts. "A good sales manager will want to know when the data indicates that a sales person is veering away from a proven pattern of success," Burleigh added.
Something as simple as when a prospect sees a product demonstration can lead to vastly different outcomes. "Most organizations collect this information, but they have a hard time seeing it. For instance, it's common to know that a prospect saw a product demo, but it's rare to track when and at what stage," he said.
If the demo comes too early in the sales cycle, you'll likely lose the sale. If you do it later, but not too late, you have a good chance of winning that sale.
Using the Cloud to Dig out
I attended the Online Marketing Summit in San Diego a couple of weeks ago. When I informally asked attendees about these issues, pretty much everyone recommended cloud-based automation as the way out. Obviously, there is serious selection bias here, but that doesn't mean these people are wrong. Cloud-based tools are more affordable, often easier to use, and will be less likely to exist in siloes than on-premise solutions.
There are caveats, though. If you decide to leave Salesforce.com, good luck getting your data out. Even if you worry about Salesforce.com being a locked "cloud silo," though, rest assured that it's much less so than on-premise suites. The ecosystem that emerges around successful cloud tools means that data will be shared more easily across applications. At the same time, as new tools emerge, you won't necessarily need to install a new system, but can simply plug the tool into an existing app.
EchoSign, for instance, uses the cloud-based marketing automation solution from Marketo, which is tightly integrated with Salesforce.com. Using Marketo, EchoSign can rank certain behaviors and provide the sales team with a score. The higher the score, the more likely the prospect will become a buyer.
The integration of marketing and sales tools means that EchoSign's head of marketing Loretta Jones can give the sales team SLAs as a step in the sales cycle. If a lead is, for instance, ranked above a certain threshold, it will trigger an alert for a sales representative to follow up that very day.
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