Challenges in Marketing Automation and using the system fully - E10 Users

I would love to hear from everyone about their challenges with marketing automation and being able to utilize the platform to it's fullest capability. I've been in two installs where I build up the marketing initiatives so that the platform can be used about 80% of the platform. Another install, I got to work with my web team and fully use the platform completely. And then another system where the system and the marketing teams weren't optimized (to put it kindly). I find that there have to be some very important elements to be successful in utilizing the tools to get their true value. One, is that the administrator is a problem-solver that will go out of their way to find the best solution and continue to strive to make improvements. But then there is the content aspect. This isn't new at all. Though "Content Marketing" is the big buzz word today and it's the "it" thing for the year, I've been doing it for about a year less than I've used Eloqua so that's 6 years now (giving only content to specified segments at the right time to the right people). You cannot use marketing automation fully and not have content to drive people to your website. Getting your content marketing people to deliver what you need to promote, having your web manager on board and having the creative drive of the creative department are all integral parts of launching nurture programs. And then having your data person/people are extremely important, too. They are what allows for lead scoring and segmentation to be successful. Then there are the sales operations people who allow for the integration to stay optimal. If you are lacking any one of these, then it gets more difficult to do it all. You can't really send out emails to anyone at all if you don't have the content to provide to them (okay, technically you can, but you aren't going to get the engagement that you would like to have). Having someone savvy in the system is critical, but I know that there is a limitation to how many people who have the skills and experience to really pull it off with personality traits of dedication and passion. How do we in this community be able to educate and grow more advanced Eloquan users? How have you been taught? I know that I was fortunate enough to have begun in Eloqua when the power hours more times than not had just me in them. I got to ask all sorts of questions to those that knew the system well. I also got training from a partner. And I got lucky enough to have Sweeney Williams help me out when he was a support person when I was trying to do very complex work in Eloqua. (I feel like an old-timer sometimes here...Remember back in the day ...).


What's the first step to get marketing automation going?

Looking to learn how other folks have gotten the entire process going.  From restructuring your web presence to SEO, CONTENT, KEYWORDS, get lead generation going?  Seems like a lot to tackle and I'd love to hear how others are doing it? Is it scale-able ?  Where do you start?  and how much will it cost? Thanks!
Having just finished my first year in Eloqua, I've learned a few lessons, and thought I'd share. 1. Share your hunger. For me, learning about Eloqua was an incredible experience - it tied together the marketing fundamentals I learned in school with the analytics practices I learned on the job. I thought I'd finally found marketing nirvana. My first real task was to help other people see the potential as well. This goes beyond cheerleading - it's getting people to commit some of their time and resources to supporting the effort. Figure out how you can create alignment between your stakeholders and marketing automation. 2(a). Focus on implementation. This took us way too long. When we were implementing, we had a beautifully redesigned 6-month old web site and it was mentally painful to think about ripping apart our meticulously designed on-site lead capture forms. We spun our wheels looking for a plugin that would work with our CMS, to no avail. When we finally decided to bite the bullet, it took about a week to embed the forms. No, they're not as pretty (only for lack of front-end dev resources on our side), but they work. Having functional lead capture on our site pages has unlocked a good deal of the potential I saw in the beginning. Suddenly, the sales team is loving seeing data flow into the SDFC contact record and they're consistently helping me out with new ideas / assets. 2(b). Get training. Eloqua University is an amazing resource. If you have access, take as many classes as you can. They will help you understand the underlying strategy and the mechanics of putting everything together. 3. Start small and increment. Once you have your hands on the tools and everything is working, you're going to get excited about everything you can do. Focus on starting with small, simple things. Don't build huge, complex campaigns at first. Get good at the fundamentals - getting assets together quickly, being consistent with messaging and information collection, thinking through your customer's experience, both in the micro-transaction, in the campaign, and finally in their buying cycle. 4. Keep an eye on the future. Always have a plan for what you want to do in 1, 6, or 12 months. Right now, I'm looking at next investments - SEO, content writing, creative/design, targeting/retargeting and data augmentation - all of which require more budget and resources to leverage. With that in mind, I routinely validate my assumed needs (more tools) with the results I'm getting with what I have now. Do the results support the wish list, or do they call out an unexplored need?
I can't at all argue with Matthew's post, but I would add my $0.02 (or more maybe): 1. Process: Whether it is understanding how data is governed among your various systems, how a lead is managed from “suspect” to “closed-won” or how sales and marketing are helping each other and handing data back and forth process is the number one thing you have to nail down for an effective implementation of a marketing automation solution.  Process will help you define how you should implement your system, it will help you define goals and KPIs for reporting and will also be crucial when you decide to integrate your marketing automation platform (MAP) with your CRM. 2. Consensus: Diplomacy and bridge-building will be instrumental in reaching the end goals with your implementation.  Many different parties are involved in a successful implementation, from IT to Marketing to Sales and the C-Suite.  You will need to establish shared goals and a plan to execute that brings all parties to the table to end up with a system everyone respects and values. 3. Content: Just because you have the technology to send emails and drive web traffic does not mean you have the content.  Don’t forget the adage that Content is King, while it is oft overused it is still true. Without quality content you aren’t magically going to be generating leads so take stock of your content, map it to your personas and the buyers journey and then deploy it appropriately.  Don’t be afraid to weed out old and underperforming content in favor of developing shiny new assets. 4. Data: If you think of your MAP and CRM as the engines that drive your business goals then data is the fuel.  You wouldn’t fill a fancy new car with crappy fuel, you would put in the premium good stuff, so don’t try to run you campaigns off of badly segmented, poor data.  Make sure your database is quality and that you are segmenting accordingly. 5. Community: Remember, you are not alone in this.  Whether you are using Eloqua, Marketo or something else entirely there are great communities associated with your tools where users are constantly sharing success stories, challenges and solutions.  Engage in the communities and don’t be afraid to reach out to partners, the eco-systems that support these tools are rich with people who have built out complicated (and simple) solutions to almost any problem you can dream up.
I fully agree with everything Lauren says here. Just like anything worthwhile, it's more work than you think it will be. Just take it one step at a time and be consistent with your effort.
Lot's of great advice here. I'll boil it down to a couple of straightforward answers that may not be easy to read. What Marketing Automation is: A Tool that, if leveraged appropriately, can dramatically impact your results and help you quantify marketing's contribution to the bottom line. What Marketing Automation is Not:1. It is not a crock pot for fix it and forget it marketing. 2. It will not solve content problems. 3. It will not fix dysfunctional relationships between sales and marketing.4. It will not make your marketing magically delicious. i.e. if your campaigns aren't compelling, MA will not automatically make them successful. Take Lauren and Mathew's advice and do the hard stuff. Really assess where you are in your modern marketing journey. Think about where you want to be in 3 months, 6 months, 1 year from now. Start having frank and honest discussions with your colleagues both inside and outside of your core marketing team. What does the CEO, CMO and CFO expect? What does sales expect? Define together what success looks like and then develop a road map for getting there. And, don't be afraid to seek professional help in getting there.
These comments and suggestions are awesome!  You all are a wealth of knowledge and insight.  So thankful for your time and efforts.  Looking forward to rolling my sleeves up and digging in.
Thank you Matthew, this is very helpful.
Thank you Lauren! this is great.
1. It is not a crock pot for fix it and forget it marketing.
  I love this! 
Good comments. Its important to help users understand what goes into a campaign and to think about the whole process not just one email.

If you were the only user of Eloqua at your company...

...but had a chance to hire a part time contractor (10-15 hours/week), which type of job role would you hire?  We have hired one of the Eloqua Experts to assist us as well, but have a chance to add another person to really get things off the ground.  Currently I'm the sole Eloqua user at our company, doing everything from database management to tweaking source code, to content creation, to the Photoshop work to design the images and assets, to overall strategy.  I should also note that I am relatively new to email marketing.   Do you think we'd need to find a contractor with Eloqua-specfic job experience?  Which user role would be most helpful to add next to get the most bang for our buck?  Any suggestions?
Pamela, Wow, you've got a lot on your plate. It sounds like you need more than just a part time person! If I were you, this is what I would do. I would split out the creative, content and strategic elements into one role. I assume that would be you and might allow you to focus more on the bigger picture elements of a marketing strategy. I would use the part time worker to develop campaigns, landing pages, program development and data management. That said, both of these areas of responsibility are significant and need solid attention paid to them. If you can get the contractor/part-time person to be there for 20+ hours per week I think you will be in much better position.
Pamela, I agree with Dave's assessment. You should focus on what you do best and hire someone who can hit the ground running and execute on the strategy you develop. Are you on E9 or E10? For E9 there is definitely a learning curve and if you want the most bang for your buck you should make Eloqua experience a non-negotiable for the position you are seeking to fill. Also, I would recommend looking for someone that is comfortable editing code if you are on E9. 
Agree with Jennifer - you certainly want someone with solid Eloqua experience. They'll be no  time to 'learn on the job' here.  I would also say, get together a realistic plan of what you can do with the people hours you have.  With limited time, you don't want to be working on several things at once - work on a couple of manageable and achievable goals - that way you'll find it easier to prove to senior management the need of hiring more full time staff - show success (ROI of course...) and the people you need should come...
Luckily we're on E10 now, Jennifer, because I don't even know how I'd begin getting someone up to speed on E9.  If I had my way, Dave, I'd hire someone full time.  I think one of the big mistakes I've made over the past year is stepping up to the plate to do whatever needed to be done, and now I'm treading water trying to keep myself afloat, but am starting to feel like there is a giant squid who is wrapping his tentacles around me trying to drag me down.   I've been successful at putting into play a few effective campaigns - especially since we transitioned to E10, but there is so much work that needs to be done.  I finally got my boss to agree to hire someone part time, but I want to make the right choice of who I need to bring into the team.  As far as resources we have... well, we  have a photographer, and a design team (who can occasionally assist with email and landing page designs, but only 5 - 10% of the time).  We also have a PR manager, and I can repurpose some of his press releases for use in the emails.  Other than that, our direct marketing is pretty much left up to me, and the goals this year are pretty aggressive for expansion.  So far, we've had zero luck finding anyone with Eloqua experience (at least anyone we can afford).  I'm still not entirely sure who I'll be able to hire, or what qualifications I really need to look for.  Maybe a digital strategist?  Or a  copywriter or designer?  Argh... I could use one of everyone frankly.  
If you could repurpose the giant squid, he would be able to do all of those roles. Can you imagine how fast he would type?
LOL I'd hire that squid right away.  
Be mindful of what you are asking for. My advice is to think it through, identify how much time you're spending on each type of tasks, and also look at the bigger picture. You wrote about aggressive expansions in the next 6 months. Understand what are those expansions and how will it impact what you do? Expand on Lead scoring? Contact management? Automation? Campaign management? Demand or lead generation? Ask your manager and your Eloqua AE to help you develop that focus and come up with a success plan. You'll realize that giant squid is probably yourself, trying to do too many tasks that did not bring  value or quality to your goals and objectives, while learning at the same time.  I was in your position four years ago, and my biggest mistake was hiring someone to close the immediate gap; which was to make more doughnuts. I failed to see and understand what's coming down the pike and the overall marketing or business objectives. It was a painful lesson, because there was a new resource (regardless of hours), the perception was I can produce more doughnuts and faster. My workload increased, and after six months my part-timer left for a full-time Eloqua gig at another company. This left me frustrated and ready to quit my job.  Luckily, I didn't give up and learned from my mistakes. Rather than replacing the part-timer, I went back to my manager, this time with some email reports that I had ran in Eloqua to show him what was working and what's not (the facts and ROI); we developed a road map for marketing automation, identified the resource drain that did not produce value and eliminate of those projects. Through that process, my manager realize the details of what I do on a daily basis and realize we need more than just a part-timer to fill those gaps. We ended up hiring a full-time specialist and I was able to work on some really interesting marketing automation projects.  Good luck with your search.
Okay, I can TOTALLY see myself getting caught in the baking more doughnut trap.  That is EXACTLY where I am right now.  That is why I don't want to just close the immediate gap and see our overall workload increase, without getting the results we were expecting.  We sell a lot through channel partners, not direct, so it's hard to determine our exact ROI from each email.  Our company sells pen tablets and pen displays, which are essentially mouse replacements and a different way to work on your computer.  The emails I create generally direct customers and prospects to product pages, training webinars (generally they've bought the product and now want training on how to use it) and case studies about how people in selected professional industries (like animation) use our products in their workflows. We market to Latin America, the US and Canada, so we create most emails in 3 languages (English, Portuguese and Spanish).  I suppose I could you click through data as the baseline of proving ROI.  We'd like to start some drip campaigns and automated campaigns like newsletter sign up, and customer onboarding.  We're also putting in play some b2b nurture programs for customers who could potentially buy lots of our high-end solutions.  My boss was dazzled by the promise of marketing automation, and expects to see everything happen immediately.  Well, such is life.  
Hi Pamela, I agree with David and Jennifer.  Eloqua itself neatly splits into frontend (html) and backend (database) work.  Here is where we might disagree slightly.  Backend is harder to manage than frontend and contrary to what many people currently believe, the backend of Eloqua should (notice I said should) take more time than it does.  Frontend work particularly in E10 is exceedingly fast partly due to Eloqua's fine focus on this area.  Additionally, the better your backend is established the easier your frontend work is to complete and measure.  With Oracle buying Eloqua we will see a stronger focus on backend and some much needed work done in this arena. I also know EXACTLY what you are going through - I set up Eloqua and Salesforce for 4 sales teams with 4 very different focus (we sold B2B & B2C & B2G) for a single product by myself.  I don't recommend it, but it can very much be done.   Another consideration for you: I think you said you were international?... this will add complexity to your backend. I hope this helps. Kind regards,Nicole

Looking for new ways to bring to high-quality leads...any suggestions?

I'm reaching out to folks in the Demand Marketing world to see if you've found any new/innovative ways to bring not only the quantity of leads but also quality of leads in the door.   Today, we're doing the following:- Pay per click- Pay per lead- Webinars- Event/conference sponsorships- Media & Advertising (print and online)- Collateral development/distribution out to the market through media partners- Social media (LinkedIn, Slideshare, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook) I would love to hear from you on what programs work and what doesn't work as well. Thanks,Marina
Marina, I am actually chatting with Michelle Burrows from your organization about a similar question later this week. We do a lot of similar activities to the ones you have listed above but are beginning to experiment with a new program. There are two elements to it. First we have Customer Service collecting feedback from their clients by (with their permission) getting them to complete a survey program we have completed in Eloqua. This allows us to instantly get that feedback to Customer Care leadership for building strong relationships but it also allows the customers to provide feedback on what other needs they may have that were unrelated to the call in question. Secondly, we are implementing an enhanced CRM package for SAP (CRM 7) and building into it some strong tools for Customer Care to capture direct leads from their interactions. The CC teams are best positioned to see and hear from the customers what new and interesting things are happening in their organizations. For us, many of the people contacting us are research scientists who know a lot about what is taking place, and love to talk. We have given incentives for the customer care team to cull out these details, and then these leads are passed from SAP CRM directly into SFDC and routed to the sales representatives. Then depending on the campaign selected we can push that information to Eloqua for addition of these customers into other marketing or nurturing programs.
Great question - Marina, I gather you're interested in net new contacts/opportunities, while Dave is looking at drilling into an existing contact base. I'm living the acquisition challenge right now - here's my experience: What's Quality? Quality to you and quality to your sales team may (and most likely are) two different things. You're trying to figure out who has the potential to become a good opportunity and your sales team is interested in those who are ready to buy now (or within a reasonable time frame based on your buying cycle). Short of someone explicitly stating "I want to buy your product", its pretty hard to tell who will buy (I'm not an actuary, and if I were this would still be tough to predict).  I borrow my approach to lead generation from Great Britain's cycling team; they use 'aggregation of marginal gains' which means taking 1% from everything you do and finding a 1% margin of improvement in everything you do. Most of my marginal gains come from better negotiation(changing the playing field) and optimization. You also need to be consistent and measure. One of the challenges that I have is that I'm constantly being forced to either justify or change my tactics too soon. A word of advice: don't get caught looking at each individual tactic as a standalone piece and be forced to justify it on its own. And more important than the tactics, make sure you have an overall strategy to engage your customers through the buying process. One of the reasons you don't get quality is that a lot of the activity is done early stage and no additional work is done to engage and qualify, so your basically end up handing over a name to sales, nothing more. But, just to compare/validate some of your tactics, here are my results on an individual basis: - Pay per click: A trickle of leads and potentially expensive (I can spend 10-20 per click, CPA is much higher). I have an SEM guy. He swears by PPC. We did the math one day - for me to generate the number of leads I need from PPC at their current conversion to sales, I'd need to spend 25 million dollars. I don't have that kind of budget. I find it hard to win with PPC because you can't negotiate with it (though you can optimize it but it takes at least one resource to do it right).- Event/conference sponsorships: From a demand generation perspective, I don't get much quantifiable return. Expensive and I don't have the team to support physical events.- Media & Advertising (print and online): More for branding then demand generation - with .1-.3% CTR for online advertising its hard to justify the cost from a demand gen perspective. I will usually bundle this into another agreement with a media company and negotiate for low prices.- Collateral development/distribution out to the market through media partners: I'm assuming you mean content syndication on other sites, and you get the names of anyone who reads your content. I use these and I pay anywhere from 3 per lead to 100 per lead. My sales force doesn't like these because they're top of the funnel activities so most are not ready to by now, but they do convert over time (if you have a good engagement strategy). Best bet here is to create content targeted towards people who would be further in the buying cycle, and to negotiate better prices with your vendors (longer term commitments, etc.)- Webinars: Same challenge here (top of funnel), though anecdotaly we've had inquiries state that they've participated in 2-3 webinars prior to contacting us.- Social media (LinkedIn, Slideshare, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook) - limited effort, they've been good at driving webinar attendance. Some tactics I use that weren't mentioned. Volume list purchase - these are the Netprospex, ZoomInfo and Harte Hanks  type lists. These are for outbound dialing reps to bang away at. Cheap and high volume, not good quality.Targeted list purchase - there are vendors in many industries are using more behavioral marketing and can provide you names of people who are active in a space Communities - many industries have communities and you can participate and establish a vendor page. Make sure you understand the culture of the community in order to engage in a meaningful way.Bloggers - you may have industry experts that blog in your space and make some passive income selling ad space. Buy the ad space as a formality (generally runs 50-200 per month) but work with them on developing content for their audience. They will likely promote your webinars or review your products. It expands your reach beyond your site.
Hi Marina, We all ask ourselves this question at one time or another. I will give you some ideas to consider but caution that what works for someone else may or may not have the same impact on your organization. A great example is Facebook advertising. Lots of brands are having success and 'cracking the code' so to speak but I don't see the fit in all cases.  Couple ideas I can share here:  - One thing you didnt mention was leveraging relationships. I am thinking either with influencers in your space or with your own customers. How are you building these relationships and using them to effectively bring in endorsements and referrals for your company? I have found - though they are fewer quantity - that these are very high in quality. - In social, you don't name blogging. Are you blogging? This is a great way to connect with buyers and prospects and the impact on your budget is pretty minimal. Start by taking every question you have ever been asked and answer them. People who are further along in the sales/consideration process typically search for these long-tail keywords/questions and you have a better chance of popping up if you have the answer. Another thing to consider is you are not missing anything. Are all your channels working in the ways in which you would like them to? Perhaps to amp up your lead count and convert more leads into sales, you could cut back on something and put more emphasis on another. Dive into your analytics. Are webinars outperforming print media? Then do more webinars and less print! So on and so on.  Hope this helps!Christina

Steps to Align Sales & Marketing

In an organization where sales and marketing are not well aligned what are some good first steps to align sales and marketing and start utilizing Eloqua within the two departments? There are a lot of great things we can do, would like some advice on what some effective starting points would be.
Hi Emily, Typically the most difficult process is forging alignment between sales & marketing. My first step would be, if possible, to have a consultant such as Sirius Decisions come into the organization and do an assessment and recommendation for alignment. Generally speaking, alignment will happen with both heads of the departments see the value of the technology and start to put terminology and process around the business to make it happen. There has to be a consensus from both parties for alignment to be successful.  Here are two blogs that Eloqua recently shared on gaining alignment between the groups: Tips to Improve Sales and Marketing Alignment — It's All About Revenue: The Revenue Marketing BlogDefine & ConquerTips to Improve Sales and Marketing Alignment — It's All About Revenue: The Revenue Marketing BlogCredit & Measure I hope this helps.  Good luck!!Autumn
Emily, This is a great question as I just took over a Sales Operations AND Marketing Automation organization. Autumn is right in that SiriusDecisions is a great company to work with but what if you can't afford that level of support? (They aren't free!) For me there are a few early activities you can take on to move the needle and begin to get the alignment that is needed. Here's my hit list: - Establish Common Language: What is a lead? When does it become a contact? What Marketing understand a lead to be and what the Sales organization wants it to be can end up as two very different concepts. It is absolutely critical that you both are both speaking the same language. This leads to step two - Map out current processes: I can't tell you how many times I have walked into a situation where a problem was occurring and in the end it turned out that the entire issue was resolved simply by educating the constituents on what the current process is. It's really important that the detailing of this process not become a game of ownership and blame. At this stage no one "owns" these processes and everyone is or should be willing to talk further about the changes that need to be made. From this stage, you can begin to identify the issues and problem areas. - Clarify and quantify areas for improvement: Now that you are all speaking the same language it's time to go back and start to clarify what the current problems are. These don't have to necessarily be overlaid on top of the processes but this can help. Instead, you need to clearly understand from each party where the current challenges (or perceived challenges) are and their relative impact. We can also begin to plan out proposed changes, but at this point you don't want to get too far into the design phase. - Design new processes: This is pretty straightforward but it can get complicated if you let it. Keep things as simple as possible and keep in mind that you need to be able to measure your success at each stage. Without the ability to measure how things are proceeding, you won't ever know if things are successful. - Establish SLA's: This is the most important part in my mind. Between sales and marketing you have to establish a contract (written or virtual) between the two groups as to how you will interact. What level of quality will marketing provide in leads vs. recycling them for future nurturing? How quickly will sales act on those leads and move them back to nurturing or move them into a sales opportunity? If you don't set expectations then no one knows if the process is working or not.  This is just a start, I am sure I can think of a lot more detail around this subject given the time. 
everything said above is great guidance... I would also add a little bit of personal connection:find a person in sales who is like-minded. in my organization it was our Sales Operations Manager and a few field sales reps that "get it"If you are in the same location, walk over to your counterparts and say hello once a day. chew the fat. complain. listen. smile. if they are not local, call, don't email. you'd be surprised how much a phone conversation can help connect.
You're so on point, Dave! Terminology is key and one of the biggest requests I get from marketing and sales. What is a "lead" or "contact" and what makes an "MQL" to "SAL", etc. Document EVERYTHING! You'll be thankful for it later. 
I completely agree with you Dave. I think the other thing that is important is reporting. You need to seek agreement on what the reporting needs to include, when the reporting is expected/needed AND what behavior is expected as a result of the reporting. I find it very frustrating when we agree to have reporting but no one will do anything with the results. We have to remind sales that reporting isn't meant to be the big stick. It truly helps us know if our processes and SLA's are working.
Excellent points, Dave. Tacking on to your thoughts a bit .. through 100+ clients, I've see the second step you outline be the most effective as an initial step. Brings much truth and reality forward without much opportunity for hot debate on the first date. From there (in a separate meeting), I recommend documenting the ideal lead management (although, I prefer to call it customer experience) process. Then you can figure out a plan/ map of how to get from Point A to Point B, which incorporates the other points made. Looking at the process, instead of people tends to help the team focus as a team and let defenses down. emullikin - hope this extra bit helps your efforts in some way. Cheers! 
Focus on one handoff - one part of the funnel where you can make an impact. Many Markie stories have turned into gold when they have focused on dynamics of trying to move the buyer to that next stage. Platts put extreme focus on watching SALs that convert within a short time frame; marketing ops and sales ops partnered very closely -- gathering feedback, reviewing the data, streamlining the processes in Eloqua and CRM. The result was an increase in conversion in SAL production that lead to millions of increased revenue. That's adult money.
Great points and tips from everyone here. I think you first need to define your goals on what Sales and Marketing alignment would look like for your organization. Is it better processes? Is it defined SLAs? Is it passing more qualified leads? Creating a more defined funnel? All of the above? I would also suggest that providing some valuable sales enablement tools could be a good way to foster collaboration and trust with Sales to begin the process and terminology discussions. Eloqua's Prospect Profiler, Engage, and Discover products are a good way to show Sales how their prospects and customers are engaging with campaigns. If you don't have budget for this, you could simply setup Web Visitor Alerts for their target accounts so they know when someone hits the website. Or including the Activity Overview links on lead and contact records so they can see a contact's email opens/clicks, form submissions, web visits, etc. By showing Sales the value Marketing brings can help build a good foundation for achieving alignment.
I think one important step is to get everyone in the same room.  This can be hard to do.  Hash out all of the above and leave plenty of time for disruptions and interesting conversations.  I would strongly encourage disagreement in these meetings as well.  The more you hash and squabble the easier it will be to bring about agreement in the end.  It might not feel like it in the middle of the hashing, but knowing how others feels, what their reservations are just makes it easier politically later to counter and create the absolutely best process for your company.
Eloqua Experience 2012 (EE12) - DO IT breakout session presentationsEloqua Experience 2012 (EE12) - IMAGINE IT breakout session presentationsEloqua Experience 2012 (EE12) - SEE IT breakout session presentations Have you checked out some of the presentations from EE12?  There are great ideas on sales and market
There is some sage advice in the thread. Four weeks into a new Ops role I find it crucial to earn and maintain trust with sales. You don't know the experiences they've had with Marketing in the past so its good to talk in a language that sales speaks so that they know that you get where they're coming from and the pressures that they have on them to deliver revenue against a quota. I also like to talk with sales about how they sell - what works and what doesn't, the types of messages that resonate with prospects and customers, etc. You'll learn a lot in the process as you get up to speed.  I'm also working closely with my Sales Ops team to put together a sales campaign process. I think its important to have shared ownership so its not a case of Marketing says this vs. Sales says that. Keep the conversations on revenue, over-communicate, and get feedback on everything. Sales is very action-oriented. When you have meeting with them make sure there is clear ownership, action items, and next steps. If they don't feel like you know what they're about, you'll have a difficult time with anything else. In your case where this is an existing relationship that you're trying to improve, find a common campaign focused on an outcome. Increasing pipeline in the quarter is always a good place to start. Make every conversation inclusive. If you have a lot of 'Marketing did ______, but sales didn't _____' you've got some bridges to build.
So, I started this process at my previous company, and started to document my journey here - Lead Management Task Force - Kicking It Off!
Emily,This is common in many organization. Sales and Marketing objectives are very difference when there is not  that central view of who does what and for what result it a total mess.There is a constant finger pointing and work is not getting done.Most of the time it is not a people/Skill issue, it is a business process/Strategy issue.I found this article from Melissa very interesting.It summarizes what the hot button issues are.Definitions: Leads, Prospect, contacts etc.....Metrics: Have to be the same for both marketing and SalesMotivation and AccountabilityLead Generation for Sales and Marketing — It's All About Revenue: The Revenue Marketing Blog
Making sure definitions/accountability/work flow... is clear, agreed upon, documented AND accessible(intra-web, googledocs...) to all parties. Status checks, reporting and constant communication is a must once your plan is developed and underway.

Experience with vendors Bulldog Solutions or The Pedowitz Group?

Hi,   Sage is currently evaluating these two vendors and would like to hear more from others experience with them. Yes, we have done the reference calls provided by the vendors but we wanted to reach out to our networks for additional thoughts. If you could please send me a private message with your thoughts and experience we would really appreciate it. Also let me know if you would be willing to discuss your experience on a call with us.  We are looking for information like: What was the primary reason you selected the vendor to work with your business?Have you used any other vendors for work with Eloqua since bringing on the vendor? If so, in what capacity did you use the new vendor?What is the greatest value/business impact that the vendor has brought to your organization?What do you believe is the greatest area of improvement the vendor can make in providing services to your organization?Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give a company planning to work with the vendor? Any general thoughts or experience you would like to share Thanks, Christina 
I worked with Bulldog Solutions when I was the Demand Generation Manager at CompassLearning. In the 2 years I was there, I'm pretty sure I would have gotten to less than 90% of the things I accomplished had it not been for the Bulldog team. They helped me design, build and execute a lead scoring program, a nurture track, and an automated customer engagement program that generated big results for my team. In addition, they help run lead generations events for my team and even pitched in to run media buys and management when we lost the internal resource responsible for that activity. Like any client-agency relationship there were the occasional rocky times, but the way the BD team reacted to those rare events with positive and "lets get this done" attitude really cemented my admiration of the group. In short, I'd summarize my experience with them as great people, next level knowledge and skills around Eloqua, and a good client-focused culture.
Interestingly, we have engaged both Pedowitz and Bulldog over the last two years. We started with Pedowitz, went through a very detailed planning and strategic process to support marketing automation, lead generation, and all of our marketing campaign development and execution. I was very impressed with Jeff Pedowitz throughout the RFP process, but his time on our relationship became very limited.  I felt our engagement team was not able to deliver up to our expectations and their commitments. We like to get things done, when we say we will get things done, and that simply was not happening in this relationship.  I terminated the relationship and met with several other organizations,this time vetting out the entire team that would be ultimately assigned to our engagement. We went with Bulldog, and the relationship and experience  met our expectations and was very favorable. They added quite a bit of value to our marketing efforts and transferred a tremendous amount of knowledge to Capson so that i could take marketing automation and lead generation in house. I do still stay close to the folks at Bulldog and they continue to be a strong and supportive resource. Hope this helps. 
I have not worked with the Pedowitz Group but I have been working with Bulldog since joining my company and have been pleased. They have really helped us develop and maintain a number of nurture campaigns and several newsletters. We really rely on them to handle the majority of our Eloqua builds and processes which has been very important for our small team. They have been a great resource for us.   
Thanks very much all for reaching out to me with your feedback!
I have wroked with the Pedowitz group and aside from a few people who were absolutely stellar - I was less than impressed with them.  My biggest issue was that no one seemed to want to take the reins and help lead us knowing what our objectives were.  We were starting from scratch and were hoping to get some guidance - at the very least industry best practices - but the people on our team were much more interested in just getting through a checklist than actually being an extension of our team for the time being. Also, we would pose questions and it would be days before we would get responses - even to pressing issues.