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By Natalie Gagliordi | September 2021
Larry Ellison thinks there’s a really big problem with today’s CRM systems: They don’t help salespeople do what they’re hired to do.
“What we want to do is actually build systems that help you sell more,” says Ellison, Oracle’s chairman and chief technology officer. “It’s that simple.”
Over the last decade, companies have made big investments in applications to evolve the marketing and sales process into a more predictable and scientific undertaking. But to achieve this, B2B businesses have had to stitch together multiple systems, leaving them with constrained access to data, manual processes, and disconnected workflows that prevent the true, insight-driven automation sales and marketing teams wanted.
Oracle aims to solve this problem with Oracle Fusion Marketing, the company’s new campaign orchestration engine that automates lead generation and qualification for B2B marketers and sellers.
“We wanted to build a single, unified system that would cover all aspects of marketing,” says Ellison, at a September 20 Oracle Live event introducing the platform.
Oracle Fusion Marketing functions as a workflow-oriented set of services that sit on top of current systems such as CRM, marketing automation, opportunity and forecast management, and contact databases.
Using artificial intelligence (AI), the system automatically scores and qualifies leads at the account level, predicts when potential buyers are ready to talk to a salesperson, and chooses the best references for a prospect. It supports segmentation and automates paid media activation to generate sales opportunities in sales automation systems, including Microsoft, Oracle, and Salesforce. The result is a single, end-to-end business flow across marketing, advertising, and sales.
Ellison describes this as the first in a two-step process for how Oracle will move beyond first-generation salesforce automation tools by addressing both the marketing and sales processes.
“We felt we had a two-step process. We had to automate lead generation and qualification with a new second-generation marketing system. And then as soon as we got that done, we had to build a second-generation sales automation system that would make the salespeople more productive and help them sell more,” he says.
Oracle Fusion Marketing brings together four new innovations, explains Rob Tarkoff, executive vice president and general manager for Oracle Advertising and Customer Experience. The system automates end-to-end workflow and campaign orchestration; integrates with advertising for paid media activation; personalizes references for sales-ready reference content; and intelligently segments, scores, and prioritizes audiences and leads at the account level.
Each component is engineered to work together out of the box and eliminate the need for manual workflows. This engineered process is a key differentiator for Oracle Fusion Marketing. While other approaches rely on integrating applications to pass data from one app to the next, Oracle Fusion Marketing automates the entire lead generation and qualification flow across advertising, marketing, content, and sales.
“What we want to do is actually build a system that helps you sell more. It’s that simple.”
By bringing advertising into this process, Oracle Fusion Marketing enables teams to reach known and unknown contacts at targeted accounts, getting lead and account scores through one workflow and measurement dashboard.
“This is incredibly powerful because it saves enormous time while enabling better visibility into what's working and what needs to be optimized, improving lead quality and overall campaign ROI,” Tarkoff says. “Other solutions require multiple tools and integrations to do this.”
For reference content, Oracle Fusion Marketing personalizes what prospects see based on product and industry, making it consistent across ads, emails, and microsites. By comparison, other systems typically use content management systems to store assets, but still rely on manual processes to ensure consistency across channels.
Oracle Fusion Marketing also breaks down opportunity scoring to the account level, taking into consideration the engagement of multiple people within the same company. The idea is to provide greater accuracy when qualifying opportunities by aggregating the interest shown by individual contacts within the same organization.
“We've done the work for you and engineered marketing, advertising, sales, and content to work together to provide a solution that marketers and sellers can actually use,” Tarkoff says. “The results are happier, more productive sales and marketing teams, faster lead-to-close, and most importantly, a catalyst for business growth.”
Teffani Zadeh, CIO of Aon, a professional services company providing risk, retirement, and health solutions, described in the Oracle Live event how Aon needed a way to automate the mundane tasks and reduce the number of systems that its salespeople had to interact with through the day.
“We now have data and information that we've never had before,” Zadeh says. “And we now have technology that can allow us to tap into the data, such as artificial intelligence. So, I do believe we’re at a point where we’ve got enough good data, and we’ve got enough great technology, that we can combine the two, and really hand sales those hot leads on a silver platter, which is honestly what we should all be trying to do.”
Oracle itself was an early tester of Fusion Marketing. To support a huge, globally dispersed sales team, Oracle wants to launch and execute marketing campaigns in a more efficient way. To test Fusion Marketing, Oracle targeted organizations using its on-premises financials applications in order to show them the advantages of moving to the cloud using Oracle Fusion Cloud Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).
When tested against a control group, Oracle found Fusion Marketing delivered a 10% lift in the quantity of opportunities created, and a 33% lift in the dollars of pipeline per opportunity.
“Most importantly, the salespeople were very happy that we were able to take an extremely outcome-oriented approach,” says Oracle Chief Marketing Officer Ariel Kelman. “At the end of the day, we're producing a sales pipeline that is a critical input to their processes.”
Kelman notes that digital selling has accelerated over the past 18 months, with 60% or more of the buying cycle happening before a prospect speaks with a sales representative. That makes it critical to get the right research materials in front of prospects, which this test program did. “We had sellers telling us they were able to uncover new opportunities,” he says. “And then when they talk to these customers, they were happy to know that the customer was way more educated about both the products and the relevant customer references before the reps had even talked to them, which is super valuable for them.”