Why I Love Marketing Automation


David Sloly

July 8, 2021

I will never forget my first job in sales

The manager grabbed me by the arm and frog-marched me into the car showroom. He shouted to the assembled salespeople there, ‘David has made more money this morning than all of you put together. And for that reason he is no longer the cleaner, he’s our new salesman.

Let me tell you the rest of the story

It was the 1990s. I’d decided to go travelling, having just sold my first start-up for a modest fee. One of my mates had said he was up for a road trip, but he needed three months to get some cash together.

As I was wandering through Richmond one day I passed a used car dealership. The cars on the forecourt were filthy, and I thought they could do with a clean. So I asked the manager if he would pay me to clean the cars. It seemed like the perfect job – working outside in the sun with no responsibility or stress; easy!

The manager hired me, then showed me to a garage where all the cleaning stuff was kept. In a corner there were a couple of mothballed motorbikes, so I asked him, ‘How much?’ ‘£50 each’ he replied. Being a dealership meant that the paperwork was already to hand and I agreed to buy both, there and then. I cleaned the first one, rode it straight to a motorcycle dealer and sold it for £250, then took a cab back and repeated the process.

A few hours later the manager showed up to find out what I had been doing, so I told him. That’s when he took my nice easy cleaning job and promoted me to the complex world of sales.

My first day as a car salesman went like this…

The manager threw a copy of AutoTrader magazine on my desk and said, ‘These people want to sell their cars, so they must want to buy a new one. Phone them all and sell some cars.’

So I started making phone calls, it meant leaving messages on answerphones as most people didn’t have a mobile back then.

Finally, I would get through and speak to someone who’d say something like, ‘Dad won’t be back until 7 pm.’ So I made a note of that.

I’d call back again later to hear he had a possible buyer visiting that evening at 9 pm, so he advised I call back in the morning. I added that to my notes.

I call again in the morning and deal with a number of objections.

Still no sale yet! Make a further note to follow up.

I persist with repeated follow up calls over the coming days, trying to get a commitment and 99% of the time no deal materialises.

Repeat this process 1000’s of times over the coming days and weeks and it soon became time-consuming, mind-numbingly repetitive and totally demoralizing.

Does anyone enjoy spending hours making scores of cold calls that go nowhere?

No, because it’s rubbish. The whole process lacks innovation and hampers growth.

But heck, when I did get the deal it was fun. On weekends the sun-kissed forecourt filled up with customers. I loved figuring out what people really needed, so I could get them the right deal with as little pain as possible. I sold a lot of cars and before I left to go travelling I became the number one salesman!

When I got back, I applied myself to a new career. I joined the BBC and trained as a journalist. I learnt how to find and tell other people’s stories and how to transfer that into editorial. They even gave me a travel card to get around London. Cool!

I then went on to work in broadcast creating radio and TV shows for the BBC, MTV and Kiss 100. This time I was handed a company Amex card. I felt like I’d arrived!

That was until I took my next role at a top advertising agency developing marketing strategies for household brands. Now I was really making a difference; helping brands like Google change the world. And for my efforts, I was given a Platinum Amex.

Now I have my own marketing agency I get to carry a Halifax Visa Debit Card in my wallet. That’s progress for you!

Google gave me clarity

During my time working with Google, I could see one thing as clear as day. The Internet was changing the way we buy, both for B2C and B2B.

Reading about marketing automation.

When I sold cars if you wanted to know anything about a car you spoke to me, the salesperson. But now the Internet was changing the way people made purchase decisions. Blogs, infographics, videos, testimonials, customer reviews and white papers were educating the audience. The buying decision is being influenced long before a salesperson gets involved.

For marketers the big creative campaigns were out, instead, it was content that would attract audiences. And the Internet quickly filled up with content, most of it irrelevant. No one knew who was looking at what, why or when. So to combat that marketing departments did what? They added even more content in a hope to get noticed.

Marketing needed a better way to help people

Across the ocean in Canada a company called Eloqua engineered a technology solution to would bring order to the random content across multiple digital channels.

The objective: to give the prospect everything they might require as they move along the buyer journey, give the marketer a way to automate repetitive tasks and sales visibility of the prospect’s activity; what videos they watched, white papers were downloaded, which web pages visited and so on.

They called the new technology ‘Marketing Automation’

In a single move, a country formerly famous for Justin Bieber and noisy geese had sent the phone-bashing, message leaving, cold calling, note-taking, anarchic sales process right back to the 1980s where it belonged.

Marketers love the idea of marketing automation, and the news gets even better, prospects also love marketing automation.

Your brain burns a heck of a lot of calories when it has to make decisions; and making buying decisions, with so many variables and complexities at play, is exhausting. So the brain loves marketing automation as it provides a steady flow of useful, insightful communications perfectly mapped to match our buyer journey, delivered in a way that’s ideal for our overworked brains.

And it’s why businesses leaders fall in love Marketing Automation.

The magic explained

When a series of useful, timely and personalised messages are delivered via automated technology it nurtures a prospect to the point of buying. At this point, it alerts the relevant salesperson via CRM to the fact that ‘metaphorically speaking’ a prospect has just walked onto your sales forecourt with a sign around their neck that says ‘I am ready to do a deal.’

That’s why I love marketing automation.

If you would like to experience our passion for marketing automation implementation, optimisation and content creation then let’s continue the conversation.