Your SMARTech Journey starts with understanding the factors that drive the adoption of a new organizational philosophy — SMARTech Convergence.
On this page, you’ll find information about:
- How customer acquisition has changed
- The biggest Sales + Marketing challenges in the digital world
- How Sales + Marketing can adapt to these changes
How Customer Acquisition Has Changed
There was a time when digital marketing did not require large investments in terms of time and resources. In the past years, implementing just about any tactic (whether it be SEO, PPC, email marketing, etc.) was a cost-effective way to acquire customers due to the lack of companies leveraging the digital marketing channel.
But this is no longer the case.
The marketplace has changed. More and more companies are competing for customers online. As a result, the cost to acquire a customer in the digital space is constantly rising.
The customer has also changed. They are becoming more inundated with unnecessary information. Unhelpful digital content, irrelevant ads and spam emails are causing customers to become increasingly sales-averse and suspicious.
The customer prefers to inform their own buying decisions by subconsciously taking advantage of the technology and the wealth of information available to them.
The Customer Controls the Buying Process
Today’s customers actively leverage the Internet to research companies, products and services; prior to purchasing. They enjoy the ability to compare products and services, side-by-side, read reviews and share recommendations with peers.
This has been confirmed by numerous research studies. For instance, according to a study conducted by Google and CEB…
57% of purchase decisions are completed before a customer engages with Sales.
There is no doubt that the customer drives the buying process.
A question remains however: Can Marketing + Sales adapt to meet the evolving needs of their common customers?
Marketing must do more than generate leads
Historically, the primary function of Marketing has been to drive interest in the company’s brand + harvest that interest to drive leads. As Marketing fills the lead pipeline, Sales works to convert leads into prospective buyers and prospective buyers into customers.
As different research avenues continue to expand, customer’s tolerance for sales people diminishes, which inevitability means that the historic marketing approach is rendered less effective by the day.
So, what can a Marketing Department do in order to adapt to this rapidly evolving, customer-centric shift in the sales/buying process?
You begin by looking inward to determine what you think you might know about your customers:
What is the superset of target markets that my company markets to?
What are the various customer types within each target market?
What happens after the form fill? Do certain customer types behave differently than others?
What are their specific needs at the specific stages of the buyer’s journey?
How does each lead behave in the sales pipeline? What does that tell me about certain target markets’ predisposition to my company’s unique value proposition?
These questions will result in an established baseline that exploits the behavior patterns of current + prospective customers; allowing you to make strides in solving the old-aged, bane question of most Marketers’ existence:
What is the true impact of Marketing to Sales?
By beginning to understand global and market-specific attributes, that bind current prospects + customers, Marketing can leverage actual data to drive further lines of internal analysis:
Which leads convert best to sales?
Which leads are most valuable?
Which leads convert to customers that remain long term customers?
The current dynamics of the marketplace requires companies to gain holistic knowledge of the customer’s buying habits in order to compete. However, none of this is possible, if Marketing operates in its own silo.
The challenges that plague Marketers also translate to the Sales organization.
Sales must do more than close deals
Sales has traditionally been charged with driving company growth (revenue + new customers). The growth of net new customers + revenue dollars are a challenge at any point in time, however, marketplace fluctuations + increased competition have made a “net new” focused growth plan even more challenging.
Given the current behaviors of potential customers today, the duration of the sales process, at most companies, has dramatically increased and become more complicated than ever. The Internet has provided users with the ability to research prior to even contacting a salesperson at any given company.
This raises new questions for Sales:
What stage of the buyer’s journey is this prospective customer in?
What are the specific needs of this type of customer?
How can we assist this customer in their buyer’s journey?
Additionally, Sales must fine-tune their performance by understanding:
How can we drive down the cost per sale?
What is the likelihood of increasing the “value” of this particular customer?
The current situation requires Sales to gain holistic view of the customer’s buying habits in order to improve performance. However, this will not happen as long as Sales operates in its own isolated data silo.
How Can Marketing + Sales Adapt to the Changes?
Implementing a strategy that focuses on Marketing + Sales collaboration (i.e. SMarketing) could positively influence customer acquisition; but if technology is not involved, the result of SMarketing will not portray internal alignment
Adopting a Marketing Technology (MarTech) strategy could help to better measure marketing performance and impact; but it will not help break down the data silos that Sales + Marketing operate within.
To cost-effectively acquire and retain customers in the digital world, companies need a new solution—a higher degree of internal and external alignment.
Sales + Marketing must align with customer needs
Both Sales and Marketing must understand the buyer’s journey from start to finish. Both teams are now in a position to assist in the buying decision; as opposed to shaping it. Acquiring customers is not just a question of Marketing driving awareness and Sales approaching the customer. It is Sales + Marketing working together in order to create a positive and intuitive experience for prospects and customers during their pathway to purchase.
Sales + Marketing must align with business goals
We live in a world where the customer controls the purchasing process and interacts with, both, Sales + Marketing prior to decision-making. This requires a unified Sales + Marketing strategy that goes beyond generating leads and closing sales. A Sales + Marketing strategy that would go as far as to fulfill overarching business goals (i.e.: gaining market share or protecting market share).
Sales + Marketing must measure business results
The true impact of a unified Sales + Marketing strategy must be measured and evaluated against customer acquisition costs and customer lifetime value. Sales + Marketing must measure success all the way from the form fill to the sale and repeat sales; while also validating this success against the business objectives.
Internal stakeholders have to be able to store individual customer information and senior leaders have to be able to view reports on business-significant metrics.
Technology must support this alignment
IT has to help implement the alignment between Customer + Business + Sales + Marketing. In addition, IT has to provide a unified platform where data sharing, collaboration and comprehensive reporting is possible.
For this reason, Technology must actively participate in the process of internal alignment and understand how the business goals align with the sales and marketing goals. As a result, technology can then recommend the right tools and platforms to better measure customer acquisition.
SMARTech Convergence is the alignment between customer needs, Marketing + Sales tactics and Technology operations in order to set and achieve realistic business goals.
As a result of adopting SMARTech Convergence, companies will be able to build a well-oiled customer acquisition + retention machine that coincides with customer demand and serves the business.
How can your company adopt SMARTech Convergence?
The SMARTech Journey has 18 steps following a path that begins + ends with the customer. It enables you to evaluate all factors that impact your company’s success in today’s marketplace.