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Water, Water Everywhere, But Not A Bit To Drink…….

by David Brock on January 14th, 2015

No this is not another plea for donations to my Charity:Water campaign (though if you want, click on the link).  I saw a fascinating graphic and post at the Marketing Technologies Site.  You should definitely read it.

The headline, is they have identified 1876 Marketing Technology Vendors in 43 Categories.  It’s up from 947 Vendors just a year ago!

And I would guess that number is already inaccurate, because it’s 24 hours out of date!  Furthermore, add to what is likely to be a similar number of Sales/CRM/Sales Enablement Tools, Customer Experience Management,  other productivity tools (remember Word/Excel)…..

We sales and marketing people are drowning in technology solutions!  The article suggest the spend on Marketing Technology Solutions in 2015 will exceed  $22.6 Billion, growing to over $32.3 Billion in 2018.  Layer on top of that the spending on the Sales/CRM/Sales Enablement, Customer Experience, and related tools, the numbers are staggering!  It’s thousands of more solutions and $10’s of Billions in investment.

Clearly, there are lots of people seeing huge opportunities and chasing after all the money that is going to be spent on these tools.  After all, if companies intend to spend that much money, it’s a good strategy to try and collect some of it for yourself.

All in the name of helping us find, nurture, engage, sell, close, and manage more customers, more effectively and efficiently.

Somehow, despite billions being spent in these solutions, it doesn’t seem that we’ve moved the performance needle a whole lot.

We’re still drowning in blog posts about marketing/sales integration.  If I hear another MQL/SQL discussion, I’ll probably throw up.

There’s so much written on “Content,” I sometimes wonder, “What if we took all that time and energy and diverted it to developing meaningful content, rather than writing about it?”

And analytics–at least we can now slice/dice/analyze why we aren’t performing–presenting the data in ways we’ve never seen or imagined before.

And then there’s social……..

Sales is no less bad.  We have more solutions than we can consume, yet sales performance continues to decline.

I’m all for technology, I’ve made my career(s) in technology–I’m really a geek at heart, but I worry we focus too much on technology, and not enough on the fundamentals and getting things right.

If we don’t get things right, first, technology will just enable us to accelerate our bad performance.

  • Getting things right involves understanding things like:
  • What problems are we the best in the world at solving?
  • Who has those problems?
  • How do we engage them–how do we learn from them?
  • How do we hold/value the customer?
  • What customer experiences do we want to create–for the lifetime of our engagement process?
  • What do we want to stand for in the industry, to our customers, to our competition, to our employees, to our shareholders, and within our communities?
  • How do we innovate and help our customers innovate?
  • What is our culture, how do we attract people who want to be part of that culture and want to build on our vision?
  • What are the channels our customers use to learn, listen, innovate, communicate, engage and buy?
  • How do we participate in those channels?
  • ……….. and I could go on.

We have to answer or be answering those and many other questions before we can ever hope to get any advantage out of the technologies.

People have become fond of my expression, “Creating Crap At The Speed Of Light.” But I worry that rather than focusing on the fundamental issues, we get diverted by technology and create bad implementations that waste time, resource, money, distract our people, and hurt our customers.

Great technology doesn’t answer most of the most important questions we have about our business, our people, our customers, our communities.  Yes, it may help us find answers a little more easily, but technology needs to be directed, steered.  Analytics is useless without great questions.  Marketing automation is useless without a well thought out customer experience/customer engagement model, deep understanding of our customers, how they buy, who buys, etc.  Sales automation is useless with out sound sales process, clear target markets, deep customer knowledge, and the ability to challenge, guide, and engage the customer in solving problems.

Technology is an easy escape.  It diverts our attention, so that we don’t have to do the tough work of developing the right questions and finding answers to them.  Vendors, are glad to capture our attention, and talk about how wonderful things might be.  They will have good data supporting their claims–and the tools are pretty good.  But my experience is, those people getting the most out of their tools and those they cite in references and case studies are the one’s that did that hard work first.

So we’re left with the Good News and The Bad News.

The good news is there will be many very rich technology solutions (too many—stay tuned for my next post) that can help us achieve our marketing, sales, customer experience and related objectives.

The bad news is that we don’t extract the full value from these technologies–and run the risk of making huge mistakes, if we don’t do the tough work up front.

marketing_technology_jan2015Book CoverFor a free peek at Sales Manager Survival Guide, click the picture or link.  You’ll get the Table of Contents, Foreword, and 2 free Chapters.  Free Sample

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