This week we’re joined by Andrea Tarrell, principal owner of Sercante: a marketing and technology consulting firm that’s focused on connecting automation platforms. She also runs a weekly blog on; and she joined us to discuss a common problem with businesses that know they’re behind in the world of digital marketing.

So many industrial companies make huge investments in marketing software, but they get in too deep, too fast.

Whether you’re looking at Hubspot, Pardot, Salesforce, Marketo, or others…the key to keep from drowning is to stop and prepare a strategy in order to find value and measure results, instead of using these programs as nothing more than glorified email tools. That way, instead of slowing from a run to a crawl, you’ll progress from crawling to walking to running.

“In theory, [marketing automation] is simple…but it isn’t easy.”


Before you begin down the long and tangled road of marketing automation (or even if you already have), it’s imperative to sit down and work through a strategy about who your ideal personas are.

Investing in marketing automation isn’t a marketing or an I.T decision at all; you should have the support of your sales team, 100%, before you begin.

“Marketers are owning more of that pre-sales process than they ever have before; and the line between [marketing and sales] is becoming blurred.”

Marketers are always thrilled to get leads – but their sales teams aren’t always as impressed. They know that not all of those leads are ready to be converted – but they also want to be the ones identifying hot leads, rather than allowing marketing to do any segmentation ahead of time.

“[Sales] has an unlimited number of people they could follow up with: so if your leads don’t fit their high-value profile, they’re just not going to pick up the phone.”


And as discussed in a previous episode with Malika Waller, aligning with sales requires a constant dialogue that identifies success and qualified leads. And this dialogue needs to happen over and over again, because the market is always changing and you need to remain grounded.

“Sit down and map out, ‘What does lead nurturing look like for my company? If we had the perfect sales process that we could make fully-automated, what would that be?’ If you don’t have an answer to that question, it’s really hard to automate a process that doesn’t exist.”

But having a nurture plan laid out and quarterly goals or reviews for the system isn’t the only thing you need to keep from going overboard too quickly.


Once you’ve decided on the nurture process that you want to have, then pick the marketing tools to match, and try out the automation process on a small test group.

Testing will allow you to discover any hiccups to your plans, without the stress of any mistakes happening on a large scale.

You may discover that you need more content to support the drip campaigns you’re trying to create – or, more specifically, you need content that sales has requested specifically for leads that are deeper into the funnel. You might realize that you don’t have a system in place to identify or measure the results of your automation.

You might realize that you need to go through your CRM – be it Salesforce, or even spreadsheets – and clean out a lot of obsolete prospect data that hasn’t been touched for a long time. Programs like BrightVerify or NeverBounce are great for that.


“When it comes to reporting [marketing data], information overload is a good way to have everybody tune you out.”

The bigger you start off, the harder it is to isolate different factors that may have influenced your success or failure. After you start small, it’s easier to identify what elements needs to be cropped out or added; what needs more finessing; and what worked great.

Pick out a small handful of sales reps – not your best, necessarily…but your hungriest. Let them run this pilot program, and see if their numbers improve.

Ultimately, the goal is to be able to give a number – preferably one preceded by a dollar sign – that signifies how much marketing contributed to pipeline revenues.

“I definitely recommend the crawl-walk-run approach. After you implement a big platform…set quarterly goals of…bites you can actually chew.”


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