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It’s finally time for technology to fuel sales growth

For decades, the sales and marketing technology stack has been a universe of technology assets revolving around a central sales record system, namely the CRM. After 30 years, the return on the sale of assets – people, data, technology and content – ​​is still below executives’ expectations, and even lower than their potential to create value by any financially sound measure. Deploying 21st century innovations in a 20th century management framework has resulted in unsatisfactory return on assets, return on investment, sales productivity and performance for sales and marketing managers – and indecipherable for CEOs and CFOs in most cases.

But these technologies are not the problem. In general, they work. In many cases very well. On the contrary, many of the headwinds holding back technology’s immense promise to fuel and accelerate growth involve failures in leadership, measurement, teamwork, incentives, and change management.

We have reached the point where the proliferation of sales and marketing technology tools and the maturing of the growth technology stack have made the traditional approaches most organizations use to manage and measure these assets untenable. The number of tools in the modern sales system has multiplied. Most companies have a solid set of dozens of sales support frameworks and customer-facing channel technology solutions in their portfolio. In fact, two-thirds of what most of us still call the sales and marketing mix is ​​actually digital channel infrastructure and the resources (content, data scientists, bloggers, and promotions) needed to power them. . And the available universe of growth technologies has grown to include thousands of sales frameworks and customer-facing technology solutions (over 8,000 point solutions and even more applications and algorithms).

This is a problem because many organizations still tactically manage these important and critical growth assets in functional silos. This stems from the disjointed way most companies have traditionally purchased, managed and measured their growth technology assets. The fragmented and tactical management of these expensive growth assets is a key reason so many organizations struggle to “connect the dots” in their growth technology portfolios in a way that creates value. Look at the evidence:

· Three decades after the advent of CRM, most enterprise CRM implementations are characterized by lower than acceptable return on investment, less than satisfactory user adoption, and great unrealized potential according to the Sales Management Association.

· 25 years after the advent of e-commerce, only 12% of B2B sales are made via digital channels.

· A decade into the era of big data – the impact of analytics on business decision-making and financial performance has remained virtually unchanged over the past eight years, according to research from the Duke Fuqua School of Business.

· Adoption rates of other highly touted, ready-to-deploy technologies – such as 5G communications, augmented reality and artificial intelligence – remain low as these technologies require leadership commitment and change management to realizing their potential for accelerating growth, enabling virtual selling and differentiating the customer experience.

This is about to change drastically and quickly. A mix of customer, demographic, financial, and market forces will ultimately compel companies to take the digital transformation of sales, marketing, and service seriously. Businesses are being hit by a wave of disruption that is accelerating business model transformation in ways that dramatically improve sales performance. These include: a health crisis, massive shifts in shopping demographics, channels and behaviors, an economic downturn fueled for the first time by both declines in customer demand and the ability to access these clients. Combined, they create a “perfect storm” of six macro-trends that will force the emergence of a digital, data-driven, and more measurable 21st century business model.


These forces will compel business leaders to finally transform their business models and lead to a golden age of sales technology. This will involve a major shift from a physical retail infrastructure to a digital and data-driven retail infrastructure that will drive a range of critical but underutilized growth technologies from the “trough of despair” to widespread adoption, including the digital commerce, sales enablement and advanced analytics. .

You can see the outlines of the 21st century business model taking shape in the form of big changes in investing and buying behavior over the past 120 days. At a time when buyers and sellers are cutting discretionary spending to cope with reductions in customer demand and access, they are shifting resources and spending to digital, data-driven, and virtual sales channels.

· More than 80% of companies are increasing their investments in digital technologies that improve customer experience and coverage according to analysis by Wharton Business School;

· Analytics budgets are universally expected to grow at a rate of more than 50% to account for 9.5% of marketing budgets;

The number of calls on collaboration platforms has increased more than 30 times since before the pandemic – to more than 10 billion calling minutes per day on all platforms – according to recent earnings announcements from Microsoft and of Zoom;

The number of organizations reconfiguring their office space, selling overhead and business models to enable working from home or working from any model has increased fivefold – from just over 12% at the end of 2019 to two-thirds of organizations today;

Sales through digital and e-commerce channels increased across all product categories over the past two sales quarters, with most buying agents spending more on B2B marketplaces and Target, Alibaba Group and Walmart reporting increases record sales quarters during the pandemic, fueled by sales in online channels and marketplaces;

The vast majority (81%) of CMOs see the pandemic-induced recession as a hot platform to gain corporate support to redefine customer experience in virtual and digital channels – something they are trying to do for years, according to the 21st Revenue Enablement Institute Business Model of the Century Study.

Ultimately, this new business model will result in a complete overhaul of the sales and marketing technology stack. A new report from the Revenue Enablement Institute predicts that a new generation of leaders will be distinguished by how their sales technologies work together to support their processes and create value. They will assemble the building blocks of their technology stacks into technology ecosystems with the best opportunities to generate higher returns on their selling assets to increase sales, profits and business value.

To help business leaders see the opportunity to connect the dots between their unique technology portfolios – Revenue Enablement Institute faculty have proposed a new framework – the revenue enablement ecosystem. It is designed to help business leaders visualize and unlock the potential of their significant investments in sales and marketing technology and advanced analytics to accelerate revenue, increase profits and create business value. . This simple yet comprehensive model provides leaders with a roadmap to rationally reconfigure their sales and marketing portfolios in a “top-down” fashion to ensure they deliver value and directly support revenue and profit generation.

We are already seeing organizations connect their growth assets to the five blue boxes that create and capture value. Specifically, we see growth leaders actively “putting together” the different elements of their technology portfolios to realize better returns on their human, technology and data resources in three ecosystems – or federations – with the greatest potential for creating value :

1. They focus their technology portfolios to assemble digital sales platforms that automate, simplify and accelerate the sale by tackling the main “hot spots” in the sales process.

2. They bring together federations of data-driven algorithmic sales technologies that leverage advanced analytics and business AI to dramatically improve the visibility, speed, engagement and productivity of sales and marketing resources.

3. And they are integrate learning and development platforms with sales support and analytics to create a closed loop system of training, reinforcement, measurement and improvement.

Other tech combinations or federations will emerge, but these three selling tech federations will immediately yield very large profits for two reasons. First, they will leverage existing and underperforming human, technology and data resources. Second, they will connect these underperforming data and technology assets to value by measurably improving resource allocation, channel economics, seller performance, account health, and value-based performance metrics. .