Sales Trend 9 from our 12 Sales Trends Report for 2016 is about using marketing technology for better sales results.
Sales and marketing technology – which trends should you pay attention to?
No wonder we are confused. The number of vendors providing advertising, marketing or sales technology “solutions” has exploded in the last couple of years, with this sector becoming a large, multi-billion dollar industry with revenues growing at double digit percentages annually.
There are now over 3000 vendors (and more in the works!) and these technology vendors are very vocal and actively pitching their own spin on what we need. With all the hype and speed of new apps and technologies, we could be forgiven for thinking that we need to be doing everything and, if we are not, somehow we are going to miss out on staying ahead of the curve.
However, as you will find from this sales trend, the opposite is true. Less is more when it comes to technology, with the lesson being that what big business does is usually not what SMEs should be doing – and vice versa.
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This sales trend focuses specifically on the impact technology is having on businesses large and small, for good and bad, what technologies we should be paying attention to, and what we should be ignoring.
Dave Hubbard is a specialist in this field and has been liaising with Barrett from New York from some time. Together we have looked at the trends in technology and their impact on sales and marketing success here in Australia, the USA and elsewhere.
Dave has prepared a simplified summary of key trends and starting point for us to consider.
1. Marketing Automation Platforms (MAP) integrated with the Sales Customer Relationship Management (CRM) databases
In the past few years marketing automation has been used to pass “leads” automatically to sales. Some leads turn into revenue, but about 80% of these leads just waste time.
When marketing focuses on just attracting leads, and sales focuses on just closing deals, the 21st century customer is left to figure out who to work with on their own (i.e. self-educated buyers leverage internet and social information).
The successful marketers are doing the following:
- Marketing is measured on the number of marketing-generated leads that appeared on the sales forecast, that were won and lost by sales, and that generated real revenue, not just the number of “leads” created;
- Sales is more receptive to marketing because marketing is focused more on moving the prospect throughout the entire buyer journey, not just in the lead identification stage;
- Content marketing and personalisation provide self-educating buyers with lots of compelling information that aligns to them personally and to their company’s purchasing process;
- Social media marketing automation and mobile-ready marketing platforms help cover more social platforms with less resource and appeal to 90% of buyers that use mobile platforms; and
- Progressive profiling and nurturing marketing techniques help convert prospects into sales-ready leads by using marketing techniques that automatically send articles and messages to buyers moving through their decision process.
Get the above basics right, then predictive lead scoring can improve the quality of leads, marketing attribution can properly give credit to the most effective campaign/channel/wp-content that had the best return on investment (ROI) for the company, and everyone has a vested interest to ensure CRM data is accurate.
2. Sales acceleration and CRM
The CRM is becoming the database and “record of revenue truth”. In the past few decades sales acceleration software focused more on sales “efficiency” and management oversight, which unfortunately resulted in salespeople with just 39% of their week actually available for selling. Fortunately, the focus is now becoming more about sales productivity and not wasting selling time when it can be avoided.
Here’s what progressive sales leaders are adding to their existing or future CRMs:
- Pipeline management which displays and structures data into visible sales cycle stages that mirror the buyer’s purchasing stages. This structure: improves salespeople’s efficiency and forecast accuracy; allows sales managers to dynamically update the sales process with team best practices; provides sales managers with a highly effective coaching platform; enables marketing to use the same buyer decision process as sales; and enables marketing to share content within each sales stage when it is actually needed by the rep (reducing information overload);
- Incentive compensation management, which enables management to not only reward quota achievement, but effectively motivate the right behaviours that will lead to increased future sales with more reliable forecasts;
- Social selling platforms to help salespeople effectively use targeted social platforms to research and contact potential targeted prospects. This is most effective if social media marketing and sales selling are jointly focused in their efforts; and
- Automated or technology-assisted proposal and quote generators to provide more available selling time and less administrative errors.
3. SMEs are becoming the David against the ‘Big Bad Corporate Goliaths’
Big companies are just too big to constantly change and be agile. In contrast, SMEs are more attuned to their customers, they don’t have huge independent sales and marketing functions, and can’t afford to buy technology in the hope it provides ROI.
SMEs have a competitive advantage, should they choose to exercise it by:
- Aligning sales and marketing to its evolving target buyers, which does not require major organisational re-engineering. It’s an evolution, not revolution;
- Empowering collaboration between sales and marketing. This is easier to initiate if done correctly with the right common objectives and additional team motivation; and
- Aligning sales and marketing strategies into a highly cost-effective, revenue strategy. This is less arduous because current functional initiatives can be leveraged across the company: pipeline marketing; sales and coaching/management; content marketing and sales enablement; social media marketing; marketing automation, sales acceleration and CRM; sales compensation, marketing compensation and team compensation; and revenue and ROI (sales and profit).
There will be more technologies on the horizon for dealing with sales and marketing, especially for SME leaders, who know that they have to move from confusion and indecision, to being motivated leaders and change enablers.
Remember everybody lives by selling something.
Sue Barrett is the founder and chief executive of the innovative and forward thinking sales advisory and education firm, Barrett and the online sales education & resource platform www.salesessentials.com.