I plead guilty to enjoying a cold beer or two, and I’ve watched with amazement as the decade-long bull market in the craft beer industry shows no signs of abating.
At the end of the year, you have two options – you can look back at what you’ve done (accomplishments, as well as mistakes) or you can begin planning for the year ahead. This is a pivotal moment and one that should be accomplished before diving into your holiday feast. To make sure your teams are prepped for the New Year, here are three trends I believe will impact marketing and sales in 2014.
You Have a Tablet – Now What?
Research from venture capital firm KPCB found that salespeople check their mobile devices upwards of 140 times each day. As more reps are given access to mobile tools like smartphones and tablets, I expect this number will continue to rise, and sales and marketing leaders will need to put more resources into ensuring the collateral and sales assets they create are optimized for use in the field through mobile tools. Organizations will have deployed mobile devices, but find themselves asking, ”Now what?” To ensure they continue to realize increased productivity and efficiency from their investment in mobility, organizations will need to define a clear strategy and implement infrastructure to support this technology and related productivity goals.
Another change that will impact marketing and sales in 2014 is the evolution of the role of the CMO. As executive vice president of sales enablement and marketing at SAVO, this trend is close to both my head and my heart. The writing has been on the wall for the better part of 2013 − marketing’s interest in sales performance is evolving beyond simply qualifying leads. Activities following the handoff are coming under greater scrutiny and marketing is expected to step up and support the initial stages of the sales cycle as much as they support the sourcing of new leads. It’s not uncommon for executives to spotlight marketing investments – they tend to cost the most − but it’s increasingly difficult to tie the investment to revenue. Marketing needs to focus on demonstrating the ROI of these investments and the CMO needs to lead the charge towards implementing better practices.
A hot trend that brings this to the forefront is content marketing. I know, I know, you’re probably thinking “Content marketing? I GET IT ALREADY.” But I’m not sure any of us quite “gets” it just yet. It’s a new beast with great potential for attaching marketing metrics to revenue attainment. However, research keeps coming back with a big fat goose egg in terms of content marketing ROI. Research from Forrester recently found that 80 percent of qualified, nurtured leads don’t move forward after the sales handoff. Unfortunately, this is no better than the ROI we see using more traditional marketing tactics. So what are we missing? Where’s the gap between the buzz and execution?
Simplification of the Salesperson’s World
Imagine it’s your first day of college and you start your day with a calculus course – difficult enough in its own right, but instead of giving you one book to learn from, your teacher gives you five different textbooks, each serving up different approaches to the material. Sales reps today often feel the same overwhelming sense that many students would in the above scenario. Year after year, sales reps reset their initiatives with a new sales methodology and/or new sales training. In fact, companies spend billions of dollars on these programs annually – and all of the investments land right on the shoulders of sales reps without any sort of guidance as to which assets are the best for any given situation. The way they’re marketed, every methodology is right for every situation, exempting a certain finesse between the various approaches. Not only does this impact sales and marketing leadership’s ability to measure performance based on rep activity, but it also draws resources away from more effective activities that could be driving revenue. I believe companies will start to realize the pain this disjointed strategy is causing, and will work to determine a means for driving reps to a single point of reference.
These are just a few of the big trends I anticipate we’ll see come to fruition in 2014. But now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to celebrate the holidays. Have a happy New Year!
Kurt Andersen is executive vice president of sales enablement and marketing at SAVO, a leading producer of sales enablement technology.