Published by Calendly - July 26, 2018

Playbook: The marketing automation shift that’s empowering sales teams to close more deals

Hubs are out; tools you love are in—what modern marketing automation looks like.

marketing automation

Post summary

  1. What is marketing automation?
  2. What does modern marketing automation mean for sales teams?
  3. How are other sales and marketing teams building their own lightweight, impactful automation?
  4. What do you need to put a tech slack in place that works for your sales and marketing teams?

Are you stuck with bloated, unsatisfying software? Or maybe you haven’t adopted marketing automation yet because you think it’s too complex or expensive. Now is the time to rethink your approach. In recent years, many powerful tools have emerged from hyper-focused teams and companies to deliver exactly what you need at a budget that makes sense. The modern marketing automation stack is in and we’re telling you why that is so important, how smart companies are taking advantage and what tools you can use to get started.

As a sales team, you know there’s a need to automate functions that aren’t always necessary for human interaction—like lead capture, qualification, certain email campaigns, follow-up and CRM logging—to create the most efficient team workflow.

You want to spend your time focusing on the activities only a human can do. Only you can offer a truly consultative experience to get to know your prospect’s needs and determine how your solution is a fit; only you can run that killer demo personalized to your prospect; and only you can close the deal. But, there’s only so much time in the day.

Out of the 94.4 daily activities the average sales rep performs in a day, roughly one-third of their day is spent actually talking to prospects.

It’s no wonder sales teams struggle to optimize efficiency and have meaningful contact with their leads to close deals. And while traditional automation may not be the best fit for your team, modern marketing automation may be just what you need in a solution.

1. What is marketing automation?

Marketing automation is technology used by both sales and marketing teams to streamline processes and campaigns automatically. But, what’s the difference between traditional and modern marketing automation?

Traditional marketing automation focuses on an all-in-one, out-of-the-box solution; one that can “do it all” to drive revenue and maximize efficiency. With traditional marketing automation, you’re paying a steep price tag for one platform that offers a multitude of features, which can feel too bloated or complex for some sales and marketing teams.

Modern marketing automation has shifted the focus to building a combined tech stack with tools that are “best-in-breed” for specific functions. When you combine specialized tools through connectivity and integrations that are made to work together, you have a solution laser-focused to your needs. These tools are built with empathy and deep understanding for the customer, creating greater value and the best user experience.

2. What does modern marketing automation mean for sales teams?

Marketing automation doesn’t have to be expensive or daunting—in the evolving software world, it’s no longer necessary to shell out thousands of dollars a month to streamline your sales processes and make a big impact on your bottom line. The shift from using only one platform to automate sales and marketing to combining low-cost, high-value tools to build a focused tech stack is just what many sales teams need.

However, there are certain instances in which you need “central software” that you shouldn’t change (for example: your browser, email client or CRM). It’s critical to find tools and services that tackle specific, high-volume needs that work well in addition to your centerpiece tool. This approach offers the best experience and avoids adding the bloat of a second hub.

There are many go-to-market models and sales team needs that have surfaced in modern businesses. A la carte systems that fit nicely with each other, rather than into one transitional tool allow for speed and flexibility at an affordable, pay-for-what-you-need price.

As software and services change quickly, you owe it to yourself to get the very best solutions tailored to sales—the lifeblood of your company. Lightweight components of automation software are not only targeted to your needs, but are successful because they have an entire business based on solving them. These businesses focus on:  

  • Researching to identify problems and trends that get all of the company’s attention
  • Resourcing, hiring and developing the specific expertise
  • Driving the industry, not just following it
  • Putting time into the user experience rather than just bolting it on to the side

These solutions are often better for your users, who are used to apps that focus on design in a way that all-in-one enterprise sales and marketing solutions just cannot do. Many traditional automation platforms offer complex and fragile workflows, making for a frustrating user experience.

It is hard to stay simple when you try to build software that fits every use case for every type of sales and marketing team, rather than focusing on a specific and connected set of solutions.

3. How are other sales and marketing teams building their own lightweight, impactful automation?

We talked with a few of our customers who are having success with marketing automation for sales by using a calculated tech stack that truly solves their specific needs. They’re innovating when it comes to embracing modern marketing automation to see huge sales wins for their teams while eliminating the clunky distraction that comes with more traditional sales and marketing tools.


Promoter.io built a tech stack to effectively engage and convert website visitors, prospects and trial users


At Promoter.io, their tech stack is crucial throughout the sales cycle. It starts with interacting with website visitors to convert them to trial users. With Intercom as their messaging platform, Promoter.io configured a pop-up message on their pricing page (the page that most indicates “sales-readiness”) to give visitors the opportunity to schedule a demo with their sales team right from the page, using a Calendly scheduling link.

Promoter.io also uses Calendly links in outbound prospecting campaigns via Intercom to convert prospects to schedule a demo with a sales rep.

Once the prospect has converted to a trial user, the new user receives an automated email sequence via Intercom intended to educate on best practices and ultimately encourage purchase at the end of their trial. Midway through this campaign, an email is sent with a Calendly link to sign up for a demo with a sales rep to further educate the trial user on how to best use Promoter.io with information tailored to their specific use case.

“Calendly and Intercom have become an essential piece of our growth toolset used to convert prospects to qualified leads, visitors on our site to trial users and new trial users to paid customers.”


Geographic Farm meets aggressive sales meeting volume goals through smarter outbound campaigns


A big piece of Geographic Farm’s sales goals is focused around the volume of meetings scheduled with the team. Once its reps get on the phone with prospects, they have what they need to move the deal forward, but just getting to that first meeting wasn’t always easy.

The team implemented Calendly to use alongside their email marketing platform, MailChimp, and CRM, Salesforce. The power of these three tools combined created a powerful sales engine.  

By setting up email campaigns that drive prospects to a Calendly scheduling page, Geographic Farm has captured more interest and can now track the number of meetings scheduled from each campaign. They also run campaigns to cold leads to re-engage them using a similar method.

Geographic Farm integrated Calendly with Salesforce so all new meetings scheduled create a record in their CRM automatically, and all records for leads that exist in their CRM are updated as new meetings are scheduled. Through the scheduling experience, the team captures pertinent information on prospects (including budget, services they are interested in, etc.) which is also mapped to Salesforce and helps reps determine the level of sales readiness before each meeting.

Geographic Farm now has the tools in place to meet their goal of 500+ meetings each month and also gives reps more time to focus on creating a meaningful, consultative experience for prospects that leads to more sales.


15,000 Cubits’ affordable tech stack scales with its growth and delivers a positive experience for leads


The team at 15,000 Cubits doesn’t have hundreds of dollars a month to spend on marketing automation. Leveraging Zapier and Calendly, they’ve built an affordable workflow that supports sales. They map all their lead information to a Google Sheet where it’s then tagged and logged automatically, using Zapier. With Calendly’s reporting and integrations, they have visibility into the channel or marketing content piece that a lead responded to, revealing what performs best and which leads convert to become ideal clients.

“Calendly bridges the gap for us and lets us use Zapier, Google Drive and Google Docs to automate in a much cheaper fashion.”

While it’s 15,000 Cubits’ content that’s driving lead generation, their tech stack is the support that ensures those leads aren’t lost, enabling full cycle tracking that generates leads.

4. What do you need to put a tech slack in place that works for your sales and marketing teams?

It’s easy (and affordable!) to craft lightweight marketing automation to enhance your sales team’s efficiency.

We’ve pulled together a few solutions to consider incorporating into your tech stack. This list certainly isn’t inclusive of all the options, but we find these especially impactful when it comes to expertise, time-to-value, a sleek user experience, price and working well with other tools:

  • Lead capture: Often the starting point for a visitor to express interest in your product or service, you’ll need a tool that is adaptable to your website’s design and functionality to embed on your site or landing page to capture and qualify new leads. We love: WuFoo and Typeform.
  • Meeting scheduling: Whether you’re looking to use a scheduling app right from your lead forms like 15,000 Cubits or within your prospecting campaigns like Promoter.io and Geographic Farm, Calendly works great with these workflows and many others. Calendly can also be used to trigger automatic reminders before meetings, which helps many of our sales customers drastically decrease or even eliminate no-shows.
  • Email and messaging: There are a number of email marketing and messaging platforms, and this list is growing! A few of our favorites are Intercom and MailChimp. Using either of these tools can help you build smart email campaigns to nurture your prospects and customers, whether the intent is for them to engage with your content, sign up for your product or learn about your latest release—these platforms are flexible and support all types of campaigns. Intercom also offers a top-notch website and in-app messaging experience to educate and nurture prospects and customers right from your website or app.   
  • Video hosting: Video prospecting can create the personalized experience prospects are looking for while humanizing your brand and sales team. Google found that 70% of B2B buyers watch videos in their decision-making process and Forbes revealed that 42% of executives made a business-related purchase after watching a video. Consider creating videos to use in your prospecting emails that feature your reps introducing your product or service, demoing the product or showcasing the differentiators above your competitors. Embed your Calendly link at the end of the video so high-intent prospects can schedule with you. Our favorite video-hosting tool is Wistia for its simplicity, user-friendly customizations and native analytics.
  • Video conferencing: You need an effective tool to run demos. Find one that’s simple for both you and your prospects and has recording capabilities so you can easily share recaps among your team and with prospects. We love GoToMeeting since it works great with Calendly to automatically create conferences when meetings are scheduled. Join.me is another user-friendly option that many of our sales customers use with Calendly.
  • CRM: Your CRM is typically that “central software” we mentioned earlier, used for lead management. It’s where all your prospect and customer data is stored, so it often makes sense to invest most here. Calendly’s sales team lives and breathes in Salesforce, but also uses other tools (many of the ones we’ve listed!) to create the most powerful tech stack to move prospects and customers through the sales cycle. Some affordable CRM options include Freshsales and Close.io.
  • Automation across tools: Zapier is truly a lifesaver for many sales and marketing teams. It connects your apps (they partner with 1,000+ of them) so you can use one app to trigger an action in another app without having to develop a single line of code.

Keep in mind, you don’t need a full arsenal of these tools to create an efficient workflow. If you start small using one to two of these, you will start seeing the power of modern automation and how it impacts your sales team. For example, Virtru doubled demos scheduled with one simple solution—embedding Calendly on its demo request “thank you” page.

What other tools have you tried and had success with? We’d love to hear the results!

  • Arielle Minicozzi – Automation

    Fantastic article! I help businesses link their tech together to create automated systems. I always recommend Calendly for it’s powerful toolbox at an affordable cost and its ability to integrate with other programs.