One of the most important enablers of an effective lead-to-revenue framework is marketing technology, which, combined with CRM and a great website, gives you a powerful platform for growing profitable revenue (always the best kind of revenue). And the good news is that there is a proliferation of solutions available, driven by the need for better planning, execution and tracking. But this can also be a bit of bad news because too many choices can lead to confusion and inaction. Worst of all, it can lead to the digital version of what we used to call “shelfware”; software that was purchased but unused (sitting on a shelf).
The following graphic illustrates the problem. In the subcategory of analytics, there are 328 choices: 204 content-focused solutions and 214 in the campaign management bucket.
Here’s the interesting part – the even-more-complex version of the market is shown by the 2015 edition of the marketing technology landscape supergraphic, which shows 1,876 vendors represented across 43 categories. By contrast, the 2014 report listed only 947 vendors. While MarTech credits some of this difference to more thorough research, a great deal of the increase comes from the explosive growth in the marketplace. Like many other large industries (ERP, CRM, ECM), there will be consolidation as the platform players acquire niche companies, so the vendor you are dealing with today may have a different moniker next year.
So what should you do to get the value from marketing technology, without throwing up your hands in disgust? First, make sure you get your objectives, strategy and processes right before thinking of purchasing technology like CRM, marketing automation or sales enablement. In our experience, unless you get the processes right, even the best people and technology will just help you fail faster and more expensively.
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You need to start with whatever processes are necessary to meet the objectives – and only then make sure you have the appropriate technology and people to run the lead-to-revenue (L2R) machine. You can then carefully whittle down the possible solutions given your unique requirements. Vendors are very good at giving sexy demos, but unless you have a baseline for evaluating solutions, you may end up with something that satisfies you emotionally, but fails the test in your production environment. I’ll have more to say about this in future posts.
One key factor to remember about implementing your technology infrastructure: Every process that you are now undertaking or are planning for the future can probably be completed on a manual basis. In fact, absent marketing technology, you can carry out even the most complex tasks if you have the time and energy. However, the true value of these solutions is to allow you to scale and become more efficient driving lead-to-revenue, without adding more people — and while simultaneously aligning and optimizing the sales and marketing functions. This framework is the true prerequisite for evaluating marketing technology.