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Orig. Post February 23, 2015 by Jenna Hanington, Salesforce | Re-Post March 10, 2015

shutterstock_189810923_3If you’re a small business marketer, you already know plenty about the pluses (open lines of communication, little to no bureaucracy) and the minuses (hardwon resources, limited time) of working with a small marketing team. You’re also well-versed in juggling a variety of roles on a day-to-day basis, from sending out emails to following up on social media.

And while this can certainly keep your job exciting, being spread between so many tasks can also be exhausting! You deserve a break — and marketing automation is here to help.

As a part of a recent project at Pardot, we reached out to five of our small business clients to hear more about how marketing automation has helped solve common pain points at their organizations, including dysfunctional sales and marketing workflows, lack of insight into ROI, and poor content distribution, to name a few.

Take a look below to see what advice they might offer to other small businesses dealing with similar issues — and download the full e-book with additional best practices tips here.

Be an active partner in sales’ success.

A marketing automation tool opens up a world of new data for marketers to explore, both demographic and behavioral. And this means good news for sales teams: this data can help sales reps just as much as it can marketers. Real-time insights into prospect activities and sales funnel trends, collected by marketers via forms and landing pages, give sales reps the ammunition they need to turn cold calls into ‘warm’ calls.

“We’re doing a lot of intelligence around call lists,” Roy Keely, VP of Market Strategy at Xcentric, says of his team’s use of the data collected by marketing automation. “For example, if a buyer watched a webinar, our sales reps can use Pardot insights to talk to them about that webinar. If they downloaded a white paper, they can talk to them about the subject matter covered by the white paper.”

Matt McLane, Senior VP of Corporate Development at Field Nation, adds, “Our sales team is spending less time lead crawling and doing exploratory work, and more time on the highly-responsive, prime candidates for users of our system. Not only is more focus directed on sales, but their time is used more efficiently on top of that.”

Send messages that are relevant, not just informative.

It’s common knowledge for today’s B2B marketers: buyers crave personalization, and they’re losing patience with the companies that aren’t providing it. This applies to marketing emails, sales pitches, and just about any other vehicle for brand messaging. Fortunately, with the aforementioned demographic and behavioral data gathered by a marketing automation tool, both teams have the information they need to tailor messages to their targets.

For example, Xcentric uses insight into geographic data to segment their database and target communications more effectively.

“We use a geo-targeting model for selling. Marketing automation allows us to effectively and simply send out communications to people in a lot of different area codes, so our sales team doesn’t have to waste time sorting through lists,” Keely adds.

But don’t feel limited to geography. With marketing automation, you have insight into your prospects’ interests, motivations, and pain points (as well as job titles, industries, and more). Use that knowledge to cater your emails, and use lead nurturing to push out your messages at the exact right moment.

Always make sure sales and marketing are on the same team.

It’s not just enough for marketing to be passing data over to the sales team — it has to be the right data, which means it’s imperative that sales and marketing are on the same page.

“Creating a lead-to-revenue model is an integrated sales and marketing effort. You have to break down the barriers between marketing and sales and start thinking about your revenue engine as an integrated model, from lead generation to lead scoring and all the way through the funnel,” comments Tyler Lessard, CMO at Vidyard. “Building a funnel that joins initiatives for marketing and sales means defining those programs so that everyone is on the same page.”

And how do you define those programs? It starts by talking. Meet with your sales team to walk through a common definition of a qualified lead, and find out exactly when a lead should be passed from marketing to sales. Putting a process behind the execution of your sales funnel ensures that the buyer’s experience is smooth from start to finish (and that no leads are slipping through the cracks and getting picked up by competitors).

Leads are like french fries,” adds John Matera, Director of Marketing at RedTail Solutions. “They’re great when they’re hot, but when they’re cold, they’re worthless.”

The lesson here? Communicate with sales to make sure your leads aren’t worthless french fries — er, you get the idea.

3 Lessons for SMB Marketers, from SMB Marketers

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