Marketing as a Technology for Increasing Sales Efficiency
As digital transformation continues to disrupt the status quo within sales and marketing, forward-thinking businesses are identifying considerable opportunities for leveraging new technology to streamline workflows and enhance established processes. As a consequence, the relationship between sales and marketing technology is evolving in response to the emerging dominance of social media and smart devices. As marketing technology evolves, companies will need to preconceive this relationship to sales in order to discover strategies that can leverage further technological developments.
Marketing & Sales Alignment
Sales have traditionally been a department privileged by budgeting decisions at an executive level. Today it translates to the latest innovations in cloud computing and big data, whereas departments like finance and accounting usually take longer to receive newer technology. However, the fundamental concepts behind sales processes haven’t changed nearly as drastically under the influence of new technology as with marketing. Marketers were once pursuing focus groups and surveys as tactics for driving audience engagement. These have been massively superseded by behavioral insights drawn from audiences’ activity across various digital channels. Social media provides marketers a real-time well of audience insight that is more influential than ever in dictating a company’s broader commercial strategies. Today, modern consumers actually learn more about brand offerings through social media than traditional media channels.
Why is social media marketing such an important resource for sales? Firstly, social media platforms offer countless outbound opportunities for delivering targeted sales campaigns at highly focused demographics. Conversely, valuable inbound marketing feedback can be harvested by analyzing user behavior and content on these same platforms to help refine and inform future marketing campaigns.
IT Integration in Sales & Marketing
The digital transformation of the very idea of a customer also means that sales and marketing departments are taking more ownership of the technology that they rely on. Where these departments once had a passive relationship with their counterparts in IT, today they have the final say on the technologies they’ll utilize for their work. As companies look at new ways to engage the modern digital customer, it’s becoming clear that closer cooperation between IT, marketing, and sales will be required to meet these challenges in a proactive manner. This, ultimately, may lead to the distinctions between these different operations being blurred to the point of complete absorption.
Sales and Data
Sales were once seen as a commercial operation driven by intuitive decision-making. However, in the face of data provided by digital marketing, sales leaders are increasingly obliged to defer to data to inform their decisions. Furthermore, the dynamics of a marketplace can quickly shift should a certain amount of social media users respond positively or negatively to a sales campaign. The speed of response that social media and mobile devices offer audiences presents a challenge to sales and marketing professionals. While closer proximity to audiences sounds good in theory, it asks these departments for responsiveness that they’ve never previously had to exhibit. Companies who engage with audiences online are obliged to see the dialogue through to its conclusion, including fielding criticisms and resolving customer issues in plain sight of other users.
Like their counterparts in marketing, sales professionals will need to take a more proactive approach to leverage new technologies that have the potential to increase revenue and refine workflows. Progressive marketers now understand the specific types of data that prove most valuable in their work, enabling them to accurately identify and delineate the types of software solutions that can deliver this information. On the other hand, sales are still (for the most part) a customer-facing pursuit with less of an abiding emphasis on data analysis. For sales teams looking for an edge to help drive revenues, closer integration with IT departments could provide the tools necessary to achieve these results. As the worlds of sales and marketing become more closely aligned, a collaboration of varied expertise supplemented by IT support offers the best chance of exploiting the latest technologies in both fields.
Common Pitfalls of Marketing Technology
While embracing new digital solutions will be key to ensuring success in the future, rushing to embrace marketing technology as a tool to drive sales efficiency does present some pitfalls of its own.
Foremost amongst these is a dangerous tendency towards data hoarding, whereby marketers collect and store information at any and all opportunity in the belief that it will someday prove useful. While this may work for huge technology conglomerates who count big data as their stock and trade, this approach is simply unfeasible for the vast majority of businesses, especially those outside of the field of technology. Inevitably, such an indiscriminate approach to data collection leaves large amounts of irrelevant information on a marketer’s table that won’t provide any actionable insights. Such an undertaking isn’t objective-driven but instead depletes vast amounts of time and energy as analysts attempt to sift through the data for patterns and trends with the merest suggestion of value. Instead, sales teams need to outline the objectives for any market analysis processes before they start to ensure that their efforts build towards appreciable goals.
The other main pitfall with these technologies lies in novelty syndrome. It’s all too easy for a marketing team to come across an attractive new solution offering an intriguing range of services that promise the answers to all their problems. Whether a cutting-edge software application or a groundbreaking methodology, these solutions can often prove unsuitable for solving the relevant problems in practice, yet their novelty is too strong to resist. The result is time and money wasted by marketers trying to apply these shiny new tools to their workload with few results to show for it. A more suitable approach would be to analyze the touchpoints that attract target audiences and use these insights to find the right tools for exploiting these engagement opportunities.
While sales and marketing currently exist as separate commercial disciplines, the gap between the two is shortening as technology helps bridge the gap between them. Modern marketers are adopting more personal relationships with audiences, while sales teams are finding that their strategies are becoming increasingly informed by the kind of data that has traditionally been the preserve of marketing departments. While sales used to be an intuitive component, the lessons learned by marketers will primarily help companies keep in step with the changing nature of modern audience engagement. 5 Affordable Marketing Tools Every Small Business Can Opt For