I recently had the pleasure of talking with Scott Brinker of Chief Martec about where sales and marketing technology is heading in the future.
Scott started his Chief Martec blog to discuss and review technology solutions in the service of marketing or sales -- marketing automation platforms, social media marketing systems, content management systems (CMS), CRMs and content marketing tools. There has been an explosion of technology solutions within the marketing and sales space, and it is difficult to find a category where there isn't some sort of disruptive innovation happening. There are likely 5,000 or more companies in this space now -- from a few multi-billion-dollar companies like Adobe or Salesforce to a plethora of hundred-million-dollar enterprises, to what is an infinite long tail of companies, some of whom are not yet profitable. The technology empowering marketing and sales is an order of magnitude greater than the capabilities available just 10 years ago.
The Digital Soul
Scott also mentioned the change occurring within sales teams. Whereas in the past, the CRM might have been a source of annoyance to salespeople, the latest technology solutions are now relied upon and utilized throughout the sales pipeline. However, there is still a gap between the buyer's journey, the online experience, where the buyer starts their research, and when they finally talk to a salesperson. Marketing and sales need to work together to develop a "digital soul" that mimics in-person contact and smooths that transition from digital to human-to-human contact. In effect, we need "augmented humans" to bridge the gap.
Make Change Your Friend
Looking to the future, Scott is hesitant to predict what is next. However, he recommends that organizations develop the ability to adapt and structure their systems and people -- and culture -- so that they can take advantage of change. His advice to companies is to make change your friend instead of your enemy. Some companies are there already, thoughtfully treating marketing technology as a capability within a larger strategy for running their marketing and sales organization.
To stay agile and responsive to change, organizations need to determine what capabilities are needed for their teams and then map the tools to their processes, people and strategy. Their marketing stacks need to be built as foundational systems that provide stability and continuity, not only to facilitate data management and customer experience, but also to allow for experimentation with new technologies around the edge.
From an organizational level, organizations should employ the 90/10 rule -- investing 10 percent in tools and 90 percent in people. In many cases, the tools are fantastic and have outstripped our abilities as organizations and human beings to even take full advantage of what they make possible. However, to get the most value out of the marketing and sales technology stack, place the emphasis on how to bring more power to the people using it. Part of it is training, part is giving people more opportunity to experiment and a part is changing the way we manage the technology.
Designing for change, investing in people and seeking agile approaches can help organizations continually adapt to change.
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