Thieves are operating in the IT industry, stealing the most precious asset in existence - your time.
Many of them work in various forms of marketing. Some public relations companies are known to waste time. It's not their fault, they probably assume that everyone's time is billed out to a rich gullible client.
On the other hand, many marketers torture sales people by handing them duff leads which result in endless pointless meeting that go nowhere with people who seem desperate for company and just want to talk.
Now, thankfully, a solution has been found to Britain's debilitating time theft problem, which is costing the nation an estimated £12 billion in lost productivity and 1,000 lives a year (when measured in man hours).
CRM Technologies is one of the new breed of companies that builds marketing machines that don't waste anybody's time. It was necessary not just because people's time is being wasted, but because these days customers have so much more power before they come to a sale, explains Andrew Freeman, director of CRM.
"These days, a genuine customer does all their research online before they talk to you, so the dynamic for a sale is different," says Freeman.
While the buyer is online researching you, CRM's marketing automation systems assimilate intelligence on them. It can tell you what pages people have been to, what reports they have read, what their job title is and all kinds of other stuff a salesman used to do over a beer with their client.
CRM uses the Eloqua platform to offer marketing automation, which integrations with CRM systems like Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics and Oracle.
A marketing automation system creates thoroughbreed sales animals by feeding them on a diet of the purest, juiciest leads. It gives them a sheen, a healthy coat and that extra yard of pace that makes all the difference.
It's all about qualifying the leads before you spend time on people, explains John Sweeney, customer success director at DemandGen, Eloqua's top partner. Every lead is quantified, the data given a reality check and the prospect given a score based on their viability.
DemandGen built a system for Concur and McAfee is a big user. Marketing automation is popular in industries like software, financial services and healthcare. These are all industries in which B2B buyers generally make their minds up quickly.
When applied to sectors where people really love to waste the times of suppliers, such as the NHS, government and the public sector, it could save a fortune.
"I had a meeting with someone at Royal Brompton Hospital which wasted a few hours I'll never get back," says one copywriter. "Why she wanted the meeting I'll never know. Maybe she's lonely."
Let's hope, for the good of the country, these time wasters are stopped. Already there's a groundswell of companies working with Eloqua to stop these outrages. Such as:
Bluewolf, a consultancy and Astadia which helps Eloqua customers use the system properly.
Zift Solutions provides a SaaS platform to increase channel partner sales while CleverTouch claims it's the fastest growing marketing automation consultancy in Europe. It recently launched Gumbyte, a research and development division, to build innovative a bi-directional Eloqua to Data Warehouse Integration Hub.
Dialogue's SMS for Eloqua application connects marketers to with audiences via text messaging. (LOL! As David Cameron might say)
Marketpoint, creates apps (such as Tradeshow System for the iPad), nurtures leads and invents things like Marketpoint Live! Action Notes, an interactive replacement for word processed Minutes and Action Notes.
BrightTalk provides webinars and videos where thought leaders share their insights, while Bulldog Solutions can help you with planning, program development and technical infrastructure.
DemandGen is the market leader in the UK, with clients like Concur, Apple, Novell, Polycom, AVID, DuPont, Taleo, and Riverbed. And they're hiring people too.
If you want to help cut the crap, while getting into a market that's taking off, you could do worse than get into marketing automation.
If you want to be cutting edge, there a social media aspect to it too, although no-one seems to have cracked that bit. So there's an angle to exploit. Just don't waste anybody's time.
This was first published in May 2012