Earlier this fall, I saw a presentation from a trend consulting firm, The Future Hunters, at the SiriusDecisions Tech Exchange show. These guys are total geniuses at predicting future trends, and quite frankly, it inspired me to try my hand at “future-hunting.” Anyone who knows me realizes that while I am from Texas, hunting + Katie may not be the best combination (given my sheer lack of hand-eye coordination), but with 24/7 practice in the sales and marketing technology world, I’m confident that I’ve improved my aim.
Here are four of the top sales and marketing technology trends that you should expect to hear about in 2017:
1. Sales and Marketing Technology Integration Will Become a Top Priority
The shift to Account-Based Everything is compelling sales and marketing teams to work together, and sales and marketing technologies must follow suit. Given the proliferation of sales and marketing tools (for instance, available MarTech solutions exploded from 150 to 3,800 in the last five years), leading to widespread integration and utilization challenges makes this especially critical.
Sales intelligence technologies, for example, will need to get better at helping customers identify the right leads across the right accounts while giving marketing greater visibility into those accounts and the ability to leverage those leads for improved content and campaign targeting. This shift will require a more seamless integration between lead generation tools and all the new digital tools used by marketing to reach and engage those leads.
2. The Democratization of Data Will Further Level the Playing Field for Smaller Companies
There will be an increased focus on technologies and services that put the power of data into the hands of those who need it most. Sales and marketing, for example, will have more options to monitor, sanitize, and analyze data “at the edge” before it is dumped into large centralized databases where it can lose value quickly.
Companies will increasingly look to providers that alleviate the burden of all of this data management while empowering more effective sales and marketing initiatives. By delivering good data into the hands of sales reps and marketing leads so they can take more informed and immediate action. This is especially useful for smaller companies who can now leverage that data to compete against larger rivals in ways that were prohibitive previously.
3. Artificial Intelligence Will NOT Transform Sales and Marketing – Yet
While hype about AI continues to grow, it is not time yet for sales and marketing leaders to fully rely on this technology to transform their business functions. Over-reliance on technology can inhibit sales effectiveness if reps move too quickly to automation tools and neglect the fundamental skills and art – the human element – of sales. Instead, sales and marketing leaders will look to optimize their existing technology stacks and processes to improve integration, workflow, and ROI. All of this while beginning to test capabilities such as predictive intelligence to extract more insights and value from their data.
4. Sales Development Technology Adoption Will Explode as Traditional Email Marketing Evolves
The sales development function is increasingly a critical component of fast-growing organization’s sales and marketing teams. Email deliverability through traditional marketing automation systems is increasingly difficult, with inbox placement rates down by 11 points in just the last year as spam filters become increasingly sophisticated.
New sales development technologies, like Outreach and SalesLoft, enable a coordinated orchestration between emails and call sequences, as well as between sales and marketing. This ensures one-to-one personalized outreach from the sales development rep, supported by nurturing content from the marketing team’s more traditional outreach methods. Of course, the value that teams derive from the use of these technologies comes back to how good the data within the system is.
The Value of Good Data
There is a clear current running through these themes: the value of good data. Ultimately, companies are realizing that accurate, verified data is the most critical factor driving successful sales and marketing. As more technology is applied to the sales and marketing function, good data becomes increasingly important because it is the fuel powering those tools. So, as you start to hunt for your organization’s next growth driver, I’d suggest you start by taking aim at your data.
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