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Selling Marketing Automation Tools to Your CEO

Selling Marketing Automation Tools to Your CEO

While marketers are well aware of the benefits offered by marketing automation tools, it is not always as easy to sell the idea to upper level executives. How can you present your CEO with a reasonable, insightful proposal that indicates the biggest benefits of automation? Better still, how can you get across typical barriers to entry?

Responsible to stakeholders that often include the Board of Directors and other top level execs, the CEO's role is never easy. Your CEO most likely has a number of valid concerns when it comes to the implementation of new tools and systems – many of which are worthy of discussion. With current trends in CRMs and similar tools, the thought of adopting yet another tool is not always reassuring.

The primary concerns for a typical CEO lies in financial growth and keeping ahead of the competition. Knowing this, it will become a little easier in knowing how to pitch your case for marketing automation tools.

First off, let's look at what the numbers say about the adoption of marketing automation tools:

  • 91% of successful automation users agree that these tools are very important to the success of their marketing across various platforms. – Marketo & Ascend2 “Marketing Automation Strategies for Sustaining Success” (2015)
  • 63% of the “very successful” group use automation systems extensively, while 37% achieved best-in-class status even with limited use. – Three Deep & Ascend2 “Marketing Automation Trends for Success” (2016)
  • Best-in-class companies are 67% more likely to use automation. – Aberdeen Group “State of Marketing Automation 2014: Processes that Produce” (2014)
  • 79% of high-performing companies have been using automation for over two years. – Gleanster “Q3 2013 Marketing Automation Benchmark” (2013)
  • 10% of automation adopters find it inexpensive, while 47% find it fairly priced, 22% pricey but worth it, 11% too expensive, and 10% were not sure. – VB Insight “Marketing Automation, How to Make the Right Buying Decision” (2015)
  • 25% of Fortune 500 B2B companies have adopted automation. – ClickZ “Fortune 500 B2B Adoption of Marketing Tools” (2013)
  • 54% of CMOs have started or completed implementation of marketing automation tools. – MarketingSherpa “CMO Perspective on B2B Marketing Automation” (2011)
  • 63% of adopters expect to see the benefits of automation within six months of implementation. – Ascend2 “Marketing Automation Trends Survey” (2016).
  • 80% saw their number of leads increase, while 77% saw the number of conversions increase. – VB Insight “Marketing Automation, How to Make the Right Buying Decision” (2015)

With these statistics in mind, you can begin to see that the case for marketing automation tools is one that every CEO should consider. How well your pitch goes however comes down to what matters the most to your company's leader.

How to Sell Marketing Automation Tools to your CEO

What exactly are the most common barriers for the adoption of marketing automation tools? According to a 2016 Marketing Automation Trends Survey done by Ascend2, the most common barriers include the following:

• Lack of an effective strategy (52%)

• Complexity of the system (42%)

• Inadequate contact data quality (38%)

• Lack of employee skills (32%)

• Lack of relevant content (31%)

• Marketing and sales alignment (30%)

• Budget constraints (27%)

The 2014 Demand Generation Adoption Survey done by ResearchCorp meanwhile notes that common barriers include a lack of need for marketing automation tools, a lack of budget, and a lack of management approval.


Ascend2 released a report in August 2015 titled “Marketing Technology Strategy”, which further added to the list of common barriers. Their study noted that the complexity of integration was a major barrier, with 50% of companies stating this as the biggest obstacle. As a result, just 25% of respondents had integrated their systems, while 22% had not integrated their marketing systems at all.

Understanding common barriers will go a long way in knowing how to sell marketing automation tools to your CEO. In addition to these barriers, some additional challenges to consider include the following:

1. Adoption varies drastically for each industry

While the majority of industries see benefits over time from the use of marketing automation tools, certain industries typically have a different rate of adoption. Certain industries may not be perceived as needing these tools, while others have a far easier chance of adoption.


Ovum released a report in December 2013 that was titled, “Industry Adoption of Marketing Automation in Europe”. While this applies to EU companies, it certainly offers insight into which industries have a higher adoption rate compared to others.

  • Maintainers are more likely to be already investing in automation, and are fine-tuning their automation investments to generate more value. These industries include include technology, financial markets, life sciences, and oil and gas industries.
  • Transformers are investing in business change, which includes the implementation of automation tools. These industries include insurance, health insurance, media, retail, and telecoms industries.
  • Sceptics are evaluating the need for automation and how it applies to their business. These industries include manufacturing, professional services, and retail banking.
  • Laggards have not yet considered the adoption of automation. These industries include higher education, education, government, healthcare, and utilities.

To use this data, consider the typical challenges faced by your industry, and search for case studies that show how marketing automation tools have been useful for similar industries.

2. Lead nurturing is one of the biggest advantages of automation.

Rather than using terms such as ROI, focus on real, tangible benefits. One of the biggest benefits is the ability to nurture leads. Automation tools offer a number of exclusive features that enable a far deeper ability to target customers at every stage of their buying journey. When used as part of an omnichannel marketing strategy, this relates directly to increased open rates, clickthrough rates and conversion rates.

Lead scoring further helps the lead generation process, allowing marketing and sales team to create a pipeline that results in warmer, more qualified leads and short sales cycles that often mean higher revenue. Thanks to features such as market segmentation and email personalisation, along with the ability to integrate both email marketing and mobile marketing, this provides real, measurable value.

3. Automation also allows the alignment and marketing and sales.

That takes us to our next selling point. The ability to align marketing and sales goals is one of the most powerful advantages of marketing automation. Historically, it has always been a challenge for leaders to align these two departments, which often have different goals and different metrics. Automation offers a solid structure that can be used by both departments. Automation also requires collaboration, starting with the creation of customer personas, and defining the way that leads will be qualified and carried on to sales. In this way, it enables both teams to work towards greater, common goals while still achieving departmental objectives.

Why is this alignment so important, though? One of the biggest challenges for both sales and marketing teams is an inability to reach objectives due to a lack of alignment. A study done by SiriusDecisions notes that B2B organisations that have tightly aligned sales and marketing operations saw a 24% increase in revenue growth speed, with a 27% increase in three year profit growth speed.

These are just three selling points to bring up when talking to your CEO about marketing automation software.

If you'd like further help getting started with marketing automation tools, get in touch with the Grapevine Interactive team today.

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