Taming the technology tornado

Paul Nolan

Here are just a few of the comments we heard and came across while researching this cover feature package on investing wisely in B2B sales and marketing technology:

“B2B marketers are doubling down on various marketing technology tools in 2016 as they look for new ways to attract the sector’s increasingly savvy customer base.” (eMarketer)

“Almost two-thirds of B2B services and solutions marketers believe they are underinvested in technology. And it’s not just marketers without technology investments that are saying so. Those who don’t have technology said that they needed it; those who did have it said that they needed more of it. Fast-forward to today and the situation hasn’t changed significantly. B2B marketers are still underinvested.” (ITSMA Marketing Technology Survey)

“By 2020, B2B ecommerce is expected to be worth more than $1 trillion in the U.S. market alone, double the size of the U.S. B2C market.” (Oracle/DigitasLBI/Spindrift Global Commerce Research Survey)

“Content marketing is a massive industry. Ironically, however, it’s harder than ever to find a good content writer. Why? Because more than ever, businesses need deep content, not surface-level pablum. Hiring the best content writer possible may be your toughest nut to crack.” (digital marketing consultant Neil Patel)

What’s a sales or marketing manager on a budget to do? What dollars need to be allocated where immediately and what technology investments can wait? As any good sales rep will tell you, that depends in large part on your company’s particular pain points. The answer will be different for different companies. In some respects, there is no wrong answer, except, that is, doing nothing.

As Australian-based CMO magazine states, rapid advances in technology and digital have transformed customer expectations at a consumer level, but they’re also placing pressure on B2B marketers to be more agile and innovative.

“Everyone is now connected and our customers are on multiple channels — mobile, social and digital,” Wendy Johnstone, Salesforce’s vice president of marketing Asia Pacific, told attendees at the B2B Marketing Summit in Sydney this spring. “We need to know where our customers are and we need to engage with them in the right way across the right channels.”

Companies are hearing the message. According to research from B2B content platform Kapost, mid- and senior-level marketers from a variety of B2B firms increasingly rely on marketing technology to fulfill a variety of needs. Some 71 percent of B2B executives have invested or plan to invest 2016 dollars in CRM marketing technology. In addition, 63 percent of executives have invested this year, or plan to invest more, in marketing automation, while 57 percent said they were investing in content management systems.

Clearly, technology is on the minds of B2B leaders as they position themselves for the present and the future. We’ve assembled a collection of insights from highly regarded experts on the use of technology in training, marketing and sales processes. How you tame the technology tornado will look different than how another company does it. But many of those we spoke with caution B2B leaders not to forget that people, not technology, ultimately produce the results they will achieve.

“We have spent most of our resources in further training for our sales team,” says Vincent  Scatena, CMO at Industrial Motor Corp., a supplier, distributor and buyer of power generation equipment. “New technology often infects a sense of reliance, thereby making old-school fundamentals feel archaic. When in fact, I know that solid fundamentals are what really makes new tech effective. You can give an expert builder a hammer, and he’ll build you a house; you give a bulldozer and crane to a barista, and they’ll build you a pile of wood.”