We have seen many companies that were disappointed with their marketing automation systems. Not because the systems features didn’t deliver on the promise, but because the impact on performance did not materialize. Marketing automation can be a great asset, but for marketers to be successful using it, they must understand some of the misconceptions and set expectations correctly.

Qualified Leads – Marketers are told that they will be up and running with a system in a week, and be able to score leads based on attributes and actions, and assign qualified leads to sales. Marketers are setting the expectations that sales will receive qualified leads soon after the system goes live. But there is no guarantee that leads who open two emails instead of one will be more qualified. There are no guarantees that a lead with a collected lead score of 99 is any better than a lead with a score of 42. The quality of the leads will depend on the marketing channels used, marketing campaigns, content, collected data, and scoring.

Sales and Marketing Relationship – Since the sales team are now receiving nurtured, scored, and qualified leads the relationship between sales and marketing should improve right? Not always. In some cases, it gets worse. Since these leads are supposed to be much more qualified, the expectation is that sales revenue will also increase quickly. Sales management will point out that the so-called “qualified leads” are not interested in purchasing. Management then will come to marketing questioning the value of the automation investment.

Reporting – When reporting about sales and marketing activities marketers can be misled into believing that their marketing automation tool will provide closed-loop reporting and know which programs are performing best. In reality achieving 100% accurate reporting through marketing automation alone can be challenging. Reporting is dependent not just on marketing automation but also on internal processes, decisions, and other systems connected to the system.

More and more companies are using tools like automation and realizing the benefits. To stay competitive automation companies will need to eventually implement it. As with all things, carefully set the proper expectation. Do not promise qualified leads immediately. Instead, promise a tool that will automate processes, track and translate collected information, which can sales and marketing both better understand which of the thousands of people in the database may be interested in your product or services. The results are not instant; it will take time to make adjustments and perfect processes and results.

Explain to your sales partners that for marketing automation to work marketing will need sales’ input. Without sales input, lead scoring can’t be analyzed and improved. Marketing automation is a long term project; it takes about three months to implement, change lead management processes, create proper nurturing programs, adjust scoring, fix breakdowns, and be able to provide semi-accurate reporting.

Tom Griggs

Tom’s experience in marketing and business development in the B2B Software space started in Analytics, and grew into broader data integration, management, governance, and consulting services for software vendors and their partner channel community. Tom has built and led marketing and inside sales teams at several leading enterprise software and consulting firms. His experience includes brand management, channel marketing, building modern marketing automation systems, developing innovative demand generation programs, building and leading business development teams. Find Tom on –