Sales and marketing automation driving you nuts?

Sales and marketing automation driving you nuts?

Here’s the problem.

In the beginning there was Salesforce and Hubspot. Next came Marketo, Pardot and thousands more. All doing some aspect of digital marketing and prospect management.

The legacy platforms were designed and built for large enterprises. Eventually, they started selling ‘lighter’ versions to small and mid-sized businesses that didn’t understand the complexity and technology they were getting into.

Even later the legacy platforms started bolting on missing pieces. CRM added marketing. Marketing automation added CRM. Integrations and UX became a big problem.

The worst part became ‘who do I call?’ when something wasn’t working.

Outdated martech and CRM stack…a mess

Today, when you hop over to Capterra to look at platforms, you’ll still see they’re divided into ‘sales automation’ and ‘marketing automation’.

Why isn’t there a category for ‘fully integrated’ yet?

We believe sales and marketing are on a collision course to become one function, underpinned by a single platform. Lots of companies have already adopted this structure, led by a title like “Chief Growth Officer”, “Chief Revenue Officer”, or similar.

It used to be that the two functions were separated, organizationally and physically. Probably to keep them from killing each other.

Today, everyone’s playing nicer. There are too many interdependencies to do otherwise.


Recent changes in platforms

About five years ago a new generation of sales and marketing automation platform emerged. Purpose built for small and mid-sized B2Bs, these platforms were designed from the ground up to integrate sales and marketing.

No more jumping around from platform to platform to get a campaign out the door, send alerts to the sales people and measure engagement.

No more ‘who do I call’ when something goes wrong.


Fully integrated is now the gold standard

Look again at the martech stack above.

Now imagine having all of these capabilities in one system, all wired together in the original architecture. Isn’t that a lot more appealing?


The new contenders

Our favorite is SharpSpring. We use it at Harris CMO Partners and also offer it to our clients. We also like ActiveCampaign, OntraPort, SendinBlue and Keap. There are several others.

Pleasant surprises:

  • They cost? a lot less (CFOs love this)
  • Everything is in a single dashboard (users love this)
  • Notifications are faster and more accurate (salespeople love this)

But what about big names like Hubspot? Hubspot is a great platform, no doubt. But, like the other legacy platforms, their pricing is just not competitive with the new contenders, in our opinion.

In an age where everything is ROI-driven, doesn’t it make sense for the “I” to be a shrinking number?


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About Mike Harris

Mike is the founder of Harris CMO Partners, a Nashville based firm offering on demand CMO services for SaaS and tech companies.

He enjoys writing about what's working in B2B sales and marketing.

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Marketing automation driving you nuts? What clients are saying…

Marketing automation for SMBs

I can?t tell you how many of our SMB clients have bought sales and marketing automation platforms and then essentially let them sit there or used only a part of their capabilities. Purchasers get all excited about the sizzle and forget how much ‘chopping wood and carrying water’ is needed?to make these platforms work well.

Homer Simpson overwhelmed with marketing automation

? 20th Century Fox and Matt Groenig

Our clients are typically tech and manufacturing companies in the $20-$150 million range.

Some?of these companies bought, for example, when they really didn’t?have the employee bandwidth?to learn and use it correctly.

Today we have hundreds and hundreds of sales and marketing automation platforms from which to choose, which makes things complicated for first-or second-time time buyers in 2017.

The good news, however, is we?re seeing an influx of hybrid platforms, built specifically?for SMBs, that handle both sales and marketing automation.

Examples include Infusionsoft (more sophisticated, more $$$) and Jumplead (less sophisticated, less $$$). These platforms, and many others, manage your CRM, contact management, sales pipeline, inbound and outbound digital marketing and provide easy-to-use dashboards for metrics at a glance.

What we’ve learned from clients…

      • Right size, right price is vital. Many of today?s apps will scale pricing as your needs grow. Pick one with an affordable?opening price point that fits your budget today. There’s no need to pay up front for excess capacity you won’t use for a while.
      • Top down support is essential. If your CEO is not on board, let alone your sales and marketing leaders, don?t bother.
      • Go cheap at first and grow from there. You can go to and find a wealth of information on the top several hundred apps including features and pricing to fit your company?s specific needs and goals.
      • Understand that these apps are human resource intensive,?regardless of the vendor’s claims. You will need to dedicate at least one or two in-house folks to learn, use and evangelize the new platform.
      • Marketing automation integration with CRM is crucial. Marketing?s primary role is to serve as a front end for the sales team, so technology integration across both sales and marketing platforms is a must.

Enterprise apps are for big companies

For example, Salesforce/Pardot is enterprise ? for big companies, in my opinion, even though they have an SMB offering. Why? Because it?s more complex and time consuming?to onboard and use, regardless of company size. This is the #1 platform I run into where it?s installed but not used or used poorly. The smaller the company, the less likely it will have the human resources or patience to stick with it. Marketo, the most popular marketing automation platform, is enterprise for the same reasons.

Products like Jumplead and Infusionsoft, in my opinion, are less complex and have a faster ramp up. Remember, there are hundreds?of others available so do your research. Start at?

Understand that all of these platforms have a steep learning curve, despite what they claim. I use Jumplead and my only complaint is that their help section needs a lot of help. But they are quick to answer questions by chat and email so I don?t stay grumpy for long.

By the way, investing in these tools has far more implications than just ?automating? sales and marketing activities. Proper use will yield critical information for corporate strategy, lead gen, conversion, metrics and other key areas.

Final word

Martech is a valuable tool but do your research and buy only what you need for where you are today. Expect to spend a lot of time ramping up.

Feel free?to?contact us at any time and we?ll give you some direction over the phone or?by email.

#marketingautomation #martech #b2bmarketing #demandgen