It’s not a crazy idea. Here’s why.

In a nutshell, the only thing CRM systems do is organize your information. They don’t actually do anything. They keep track of your sales, but they don’t engage your prospects. That’s still up to you. They capture your sales process, but they don’t execute it.

A good marketing automation system, on the other hand, proactively helps you. If set up and managed well, you can sit back and do nothing and the system will drop interested prospects in your lap.

Even if your sales process was a mess and your sales pipeline didn’t really exist, a good marketing automation strategy and execution can make things happen.

Sales CRM is strategy. Even the sales process embodied within your CRM system is just strategy.  Marketing automation embeds strategy but also drives execution. And the only way you’re going to sell something is to execute.

I don’t actually recommend someone choose one or the other. World-class sales & marketing organizations need both to succeed and scale.  You need sales process, CRM and marketing operations.

If anything, I want companies who have resisted marketing automation as a part of their strategy to make sure their priorities are in the right place.

Sales CRM is table stakes, and sales strategy should be table stakes too.  Eventually, marketing automation will be as well. But for now, and into 2013, companies that treat marketing automation as a core part of their execution have a competitive advantage over others.