The marketing automation market is competitive, fast-paced, and consumer-driven. Excellent news for you as a user! This put you in the position to pick and choose your research options based on product focus and even company strategy.

The hot topic right now among marketing automation associations is how the software can be implemented to link the marketing and sales departments. And how did this topic become so hot? You did that. User feedback is everything.

While the software always had the tools needed for alignment, such as lead scoring, CRM integration, and website tracking, the industry didn’t push this as a selling point until customers asked to hear more about it. Well, we hear you loud and clear.

Here are four sales and marketing processes that demand marketing automation:

  1. The nurture process: Sales and marketing can collaborate to define a lead nurturing path and then execute it using lead scoring. First, decide whether or not to contact new prospects by phone and what data to gather from them (title, company, email address, product needs). Define sub-stages including the behaviors and attributes of each of the members. Finally, agree on information (newsletters, webinar invites, asset downloads) that prospects should receive at each sub-stage.
  2. The hand-off process: Okay, so this is an outdated term. There’s no physical hand-off anymore (especially since we’re aligned, right?), but in your marketing automation tool both teams can create a pre-defined process to transfer new leads to sales. Agree on what lead data is the most important for sales reps to know and define methods to link new leads with existing accounts (for attribution reports).
  3. The closing process: Define your own set of rules for alerts to sales based on a lead’s behavior in the marketing automation system (website engagement, social engagement, email engagement). Define your rules to drive messages in marketing systems based on lead status in sales. Agree on process to develop and distribute sales collateral to leads and track their usage.
  4. The service process: Even after a sale is closed, marketing and sales can’t shut themselves off from paying customers or you’ll see your churn numbers skyrocket. Define sales/service alert rules based on customer behaviors in your marketing automation system. Design a roadmap for how you’re going to interact with leads as you nurture them. Finally, Define your process to integrate loyalty programs with the operations team.

If industry predictions hold true, the marketing automation market size is only going to grow throughout the second half of 2014 and into next year. Those of you implementing a free marketing automation software should take note – capabilities are expanding as technology is getting smarter. Don’t get stuck with a system that isn’t evolving with the market.