Prof. Dr. Bernd Skiera, co-partner of Marini Systems, spoke in the DDV series “Science Talks” about how important it is to link marketing and sales processes. How companies can convince customers at the right time and in the right place? Through intelligent robotic selling!
New lecture series of the DDV
The German Dialog Marketing Association e.V. (DDV) launched the new digital series “Science Talks” and selected the co-partner of Marini Systems, Prof. Dr. Bernd Skiera, for the opening lecture. In his talk, he explained how marketing and sales processes can be linked by using intelligent technologies.
How has the purchasing behavior of customers changed?
At the beginning of his presentation, Skiera first explained the individual stages of the customer journey. Because in principle, the customer journey of a customer in B2B consists of four phases:
- Developing awareness for the use of a solution
- Compare solutions
- Comparing vendors
- Selecting a vendor and making a purchase
The phases have remained very similar in recent years. However, personal contact with the salesperson now occurs much later, as the Internet has enabled buyers to obtain much more information about offers on their own. Studies show that 60 percent of the entire purchasing process has occurred before personal contact is made. So if you are not present in this important decision-making phase, you will lose to competition. Classic trade show sales have fallen behind, and not just since Corona. That’s why other tools are gaining in importance, including the website, useful content such as white papers or eBooks, referral marketing, and web seminars.
The four phases of the sales process
There is a similar classification of phases for the sales process:
- Lead Generation
- Lead Nurturing
The first three phases can be roughly assigned to marketing responsibilities. It is important not to hand over an unready lead to sales immediately after lead generation – this is why the 3rd phase, lead nurturing, is so important. It’s essential to find out when the potential customer is ready for sales. According to Skiera, however, this separation between marketing and sales prevents this handover from going smoothly in many cases. That’s because there are numerous organizational challenges: different responsibilities for marketing/sales, different goals and incentives, different employee qualifications, and a lack of communication.
The number of systems continues to increase
On the one hand, there are the organizational challenges; on the other hand, Skiera also points out the technical obstacles. The number of systems, data, software solutions and apps is constantly increasing. In marketing alone, there are now nearly 8,000 tools that companies can use. By comparison, in 2011 there were only 150. In sales, too, there are a multitude of solutions – and hardly any companies will work with just one of them. Technologically integrating marketing and sales processes seems correspondingly complex. Robotic selling offers a solution to both problems.
What is Robotic Selling?
Marini Systems understands Robotic Selling as the automated preparation of sales conversations (or sales) through Machine Learning models. In order to create the basis for intelligent Robotic Selling, several challenges must be overcome. Companies must integrate all data and systems, model processes as well as visualize them, and ultimately automate them more. Ideally, a so-called Customer Data Platform (CDP) takes over the consolidation of all data. The Marini Enterprise Data Platform, for example, enables bidirectional data exchange between all relevant systems. After all, a company should have consistent entries in all data sources if, for example, a customer’s telephone number or address changes. With the HubEngine, these are automatically updated in all systems. With the Marini DataEngine, even processes can then be automated as needed. Companies can define simple decision logics with if/then scenarios. An even more advanced way to control processes is to automate them using data analytics and machine learning. It turns out that even a simple process like downloading a useful white paper involves numerous systems and applications.
Optimal process control
One thing is important to understand: Robotic selling is not about taking work away from salespeople. Rather, they should be able to concentrate on their core tasks – customer service. Data analytics models provide them with optimal support in this regard. For example, a lead is only automatically transferred to a suitable sales employee when this lead has reached a defined threshold value. This means that this process step takes place without human intervention and only when sales maturity has actually been proven. The intelligent process of automatic lead nurturing, lead scoring and lead routing significantly increases the chance of a successful sales close. Sales supported by innovative technology is no longer a mere vision of the future, but has become a reality for companies. Robotic Selling works.