Things change, people change, companies change. And in the digital era, everything is changing more quickly than ever before.
Having spent most of my career working with cutting-edge tech companies, I get excited about all the ways new technology can empower companies to become market leaders by doing what they do faster and better. But unless used correctly, technology can do your business more harm than good.
Today’s marketers are flooded with so many cool, flashy tech options that they often buy into the wrong solutions or become so overwhelmed that they do nothing. The challenge is weeding through the noise to figure out which core solutions will provide the most bang for your buck.
So, how do you know which solutions are worth the investment and right for your business, which will empower your reps to sell rather than get overwhelmed, and which will provide the ROI you need to outpace your competitors?
Start by examining your people, processes and technology:
Fill Your Talent Gaps
The rapid adoption of new technology has created talent gaps in many organizations. In fact, 79 percent of B2B leaders report noticeable skill gaps in their teams, particularly around data management and digital marketing.
The increasingly automated nature of marketing and sales makes this a much more data-driven world than in the past, when marketing and selling was more about instincts and gut feelings. This shift requires both a new mindset and a new skillset. But many sales and marketing teams of seasoned professionals are stuck in their ways.
To help your teams embrace and adopt tech tools that increase productivity, you need a solid infrastructure. You also need someone in an organizational role who understands technology and can teach your teams how to use it for more than just data reporting and contact management. And you’ll want to invest in training and continuous education for team members to ensure they stay on top of both industry trends and technology enhancements
Take Baby Steps
As the old saying goes, learn to walk before you run. Think of your technology stack as a series of building blocks. You don’t start out with a complete structure; you build it one block at a time, slowly and carefully filling in gaps so the whole thing doesn’t come tumbling down.
The same goes for introducing new technology to your team. If personnel aren’t comfortable using what you already have in place, they certainly won’t be ready for the next building block.
Most companies — nearly 80 percent, according to CSO Insights — have already invested in a CRM platform, which is a great start. But only 15.5 percent of sales professionals say their current CRM applications meet expectations, which tells me that most of them are not using their platforms correctly.
This used to be the case for Silverpop’s sales team. This year, we’ve really focused on building our reps’ technology toolboxes and helping them start prospecting on their own, rather than relying solely on inbound leads. We started by evaluating what we already had in place: the Salesforce CRM platform. We quickly discovered that the process was all over the map — every rep was entering customer information differently. So we streamlined that operation first. (For more on CRM, check out our related video, “Enhancing Marketing-Sales Integration via a CRM Integration.”)
Next, we gave the team access to LinkedIn Sales Navigator, a social-selling solution that helps gather intelligence about prospects. Since most reps use LinkedIn, there was less of a learning curve to use the advanced features. Slowly but surely, we equipped them with the tools they needed to prospect. And I’m happy to report, the results have been fantastic. (Get tips for using LinkedIn to drive leads.)
Consult the Experts
Specialization is becoming increasingly important in the digital era, so you need experienced partners in your corner — people and companies that understand how helping your organization grow also benefits them.
Talk to business leaders who’ve been down the path you’re on now. They can tell you what works and what doesn’t. Also, consult your technology partners — the people who not only support your organization, but also educate you. If you have smart individuals on your side and the right processes in place, it’s easier to spot the gaps that technology can help you fill.
Bottom line: Used correctly, great technology helps companies increase productivity, improve customer relations, and attract and engage new clients. The key to becoming a market leader is knowing what technology you need, how to use it most effectively, and who you need in your corner to help your company grow.
1) White Paper: “Vision, Skills, Data: Making the Most of Marketing Technology”
2) Video: “Skills: Assembling the Perfect Marketing Team”
3) Blog: “Get More Personal by Making the Most Out of Your Marketing Technology”