Stary Wonderment

Knowing me, you would agree that I am a huge proponent of utilizing innovative technologies to streamline business processes. Just this weekend, the inventor of email and the use of “@”, Ray Tomlinson passed away. The changes his invention brought to our world are nothing short of mind blowing. Even so, email used outside the context of bona fide strategy and purpose have a negative effect on productivity, communications, brand, revenue and growth.

It’s been nearly two decades since marketing automation pushed into the B2B scene with the introduction of Eloqua in 1999. Eleven years later, in 2010, marketing automation became its own category with over 110 known vendors in the space. Marketing automation became a business technology powerhouse, but was it supporting critical business imperatives?

Earlier this year, in our 2015 B2B Enterprise Demand Generation Survey, we found that the majority of firms (69%) are seeing only marginal effectiveness from their demand generation programs, to which marketing automation is the underlying technology enabler. Complexity is the culprit of missed opportunities. Even a simple and less effective implementation approach to marketing automation takes upwards of 6 months to deploy. Companies surveyed all agree that the effort is difficult at best.

Although marketing automation is embraced by marketers, sales organizations are still not completely accepting of the technology benefits, and are not totally trusting of marketing’s motives. Marketing automation presents tremendous promise, but without strategic consideration, it is nothing more than another wave of innovative distraction.

Enter, the era of Sales Enablement.

Sales enablement is a universal challenge. Modern businesses tend to throw technology at challenges. It’s no wonder so many vendors are pitching their wares, hoping to convince sales organizations that the key to successful sales enablement can be found in their technology. We hear these grandiose promises to save time and sales drive productivity by expanding CRM functionality with things like: integrated proposal automation, content delivery, lead scoring, predictive analytics and data visualization. Are we seeing 2010 all over again? This time targeting naïve Sales Enablement buyers?

A word of caution. Technology, in and of itself, does not (and never will) effectively serve a need.

My advice to the Sales Enablement buyer – learn from your marketing counterparts. Don’t let the technology distract you from your purpose of driving revenue and growing the business. Recognize the complexities of adding technology to your process. It will have a ripple effect upstream and can easily disrupt the entire demand process. It could overlap capabilities offered via the marketing technology stack. Don’t start with technology. Start the discussion with a strategic plan to seamlessly integrate the the right technology into the overarching demand process. Then, and only then, will you achieve the full potential of the investment.

Presentation originally posted on Annuitas.com

Image courtesy of Jeremy Thomas - Unsplash.com.