The business-to-business community is entering an era in which sales efforts will be fully automatic. New research from B2B Marketing expects the software will be in use by 88 percent of businesses within the next two years.
The Reality Of Automated Sales Software
It’s a common refrain that B2B businesses are slower to adopt technology than their consumer-facing counterparts. Not so when it comes to marketing automation. B2B professionals are nearly twice as likely to have a sales and marketing automation system in place than their B2C peers. Produced in partnership with Circle Research, the 2015 Marketing Automation Benchmarking Report found 43 percent of businesses have already adopted the tools, with an additional 45 percent actively pursuing the software. Those that are in the exploration phase are moving quickly. Two-thirds of the businesses currently not using the software plan to within the next 12 months, the remaining 31 percent within 24 months.
This type of software handles the repetitive tasks associated with building a marketing program. Helping to streamline the scheduling, segmentation and tracking of campaigns. With features spanning Big Data collection to analysis and reporting, automation aids businesses in implementing strategies targeted to each potential business customer. When implemented correctly, the software pays off: 57 percent of the respondents surveyed found marketing automation “quite beneficial” to their company.
It’s All About Leads
When asked about the key objectives of adopting automated marketing software, lead generation and performance top the list. Improving lead nurturing took the No. 1 spot with 82 percent, while improving lead quality came in with 76 percent and increasing lead generation was a close third at 74 percent of respondents, according to a March 2015 study by Regalix.
Businesses that have made the change to an automated process are reaping the rewards. The same Regalix study asked users to list the top benefits of going automated. Again, lead generation took first place. Eighty-four percent of respondents saw more leads. Better leads are another welcome effect, with 73 percent of businesses receiving better prospects and increased insight. Operational efficiency tied lead value as automation software reduced time spent manually entering information. Research from B2B Marketing and Circle Research reinforces the Regalix findings; better lead management topped the list of benefits of marketing automation. Rounding out the Top 3 were more relevant messaging and content, and increased revenue.
Why Sales Software Gets Ignored
The numbers show the majority of businesses have or will soon be using marketing automation software. Despite the forward momentum, there are still a number of businesses that have yet to and have no intention to make the leap.
B2B Marketing surveyed nearly 300 B2B marketing professionals, and 12 percent of them said they have no plans to adopt automation tools. Respondents cited various reasons for their aversion. The most popular justifications included skill shortages (54 percent), data integration (51 percent) and resource shortages (48 percent). Also in the Top 5 challenges were budget concerns, as 34 percent said they lacked the funds needed to put automation software into action.
While there are internal challenges that may prevent some businesses from choosing automation, there are also limits to what marketing automation can help businesses achieve. The technology alone isn’t enough. A sales platform is simply a way to deliver a strategy, not create it, experts say. The most robust platform cannot replace a program development, staff training, data hygiene and the other elements of a well-crafted modern marketing program. Or, as Lee Hackett, director of strategy for marketing firm Bluprint, puts it, “You can have the best MA platform in the world but, without laying the foundations first, it’s a dead piece of kit that will do very little.”