In my column for CustomerThink last month titled, My Love/Hate Relationship With Sales and Marketing Technology: 6 Lessons Learned, I talked about the reasons why so many of us have been frustrated with sales and marketing technology. One of the primary reasons is the huge imbalance about what is promised and what is delivered.
This overselling of benefits is a boost to the bottom line of technology providers but offers pitfalls for B2B companies and their marketing organizations. One example is a recent conversation I had with a software company CEO who had been talking to one of the more prominent marketing automation companies about installing their very expensive marketing suite. I was amazed that this very technically-smart CEO was made to believe that the new software would be the answer to his marketing challenges.
In this particular case, the software company had poor messaging aimed at the wrong audience as well as several other significant challenges. Here are some of the common barriers that I see that need to be addressed before implementing marketing technology.
Six Barriers to Marketing Technology Success
- Poor messaging. As in the above example, if the messaging is wrong or just substandard, new technology is not going to make everything right. It takes creativity and a good amount of elbow grease to figure out exactly where the right fit is between what you are offering and challenges faced by your target audience.
- Siloed data. In a recent CustomerThink article, A Customer Data Platform (or Any Technology) Can’t Solve Your Organizational Problems, author Buck Webb made an important point about technology limitations: “What a customer data platform cannot do, however, is solve the organizational problems inherent in breaking down data silos and closing the gap between customer engagement strategy and execution.” The article continues: “Every organization has functional data silos, which have grown organically over the years. For example, sales owns sales data, service owns service data, and marketing owns marketing data.”
- Ineffective lead-to-revenue (L2R) model. Lead-to-revenue is a marketing and sales framework that optimizes people, processes and technology in a synchronized manner to produce higher revenue, shortened sales cycles and improved close rates. Lead-to-revenue spans every activity from initial marketing outreach, to lead nurture, sales engagement and close. L2R success is measured by revenue and profitability metrics. Get your L2R model right first and then implement the appropriate technology to support the model. Please don’t start with the technology.
- Broken marketing processes. If your processes (e.g. campaign management, email marketing) are not following industry best practices and your human resources don’t have the right expertise, you need to prioritize this before buying any software. Automating broken processes only leads you to failure faster!
- Mediocre product marketing. This is such an important barrier to marketing and sales success that I will write about it in detail in the next few weeks. Basically, the person(s) who owns product marketing is responsible for a number of important functions, whose critical failures will become apparent when technology is introduced.
- Organizational roadblocks. Two critical organizational components are necessary for marketing technology success. First, buy-in from the executive team. I’ve seen marketing teams go “rogue” and implement solutions despite a lack of support from the C-suite. This almost never ends well. The other issue is the ability and willingness of the marketing team and other staff to embrace the new solution, even if it means a major change in the way they are doing things.
Just to be clear, I am not advocating that you not implement marketing technology. Heck, I’ve worked in three companies (including my own start-up) that provided this type of software. In fact, implementing marketing automation technology can force you to address the six issues above. But there is no doubt you will be a lot more successful if you address and overcome these six barriers as early as possible.