MSFT + LNKD: Welcome to the New World of Sales Enablement

Here at MarketBridge, we had collective smiles on our faces when we heard the news. We have been predicting and investing against this scenario for over two years and it’s great to see the big players validate our strategy.

Ok, so we didn’t exactly predict this deal, but what MSFT sees is that the era of marketing and sales automation is waning as the new era of marketing and sales intelligence enters its early innings. LinkedIn is the worlds best B2B database – full of information on buyer’s backgrounds, interests, and network connections. The opportunity to connect LinkedIn data with Outlook and Dynamics CRM apps is incredibly powerful.

BUT FIRST, take a step back and look at where B2B companies have invested in Sales & Marketing automation over the past 10 years. CRM systems are powerful, but you will be hard pressed to find many sales reps who love their CRM platform. Marketing automation is great, but for most companies it just enables them to send out 1000s more emails and increasingly marketers are receiving lower and lower response rates. For sales, automated “robo-dialers” increase call volume and reduce costs, but get increasingly low answer rates and simply annoy customers.

The common thread among all these technologies is a race to the bottom to achieve sales efficiency. But more outbound emails and calls are proving to overwhelm the inbound capacity of sales reps to convert leads to closed deals. What Marketing and Sales teams need is effectiveness – the ability to focus on the best sales opportunities, get deeper buyer insight, and respond with the right message, content, and offer at the right time. The future is in integrating LinkedIn and other customer intelligence data sources with today’s existing Marketing and Sales platforms.

Sales reps are not going to be automated out of existence no matter how hard some coders try! Rather, the new world of sales enablement is about connecting multiple workflow and data platforms – social media, CRM, marketing automation – with intelligent buyer insight and clear sales plays. Microsoft has put itself in the shoes of sales professionals and realized what they need now is intelligent sales enablement, not more sales automation.