The featured image in this post is based on an ironic state of affairs. Salesforce, arguably the best known CRM platform on the market, first started out life positioning itself as the “no software” company (if you’re in the SaaS business you’ll know what it means). The irony is that a recent piece of Gartner research is now indicating sellers are no longer required, the very people Salesforce’s platform is used to support.
Well not so much that sellers are not required but that buyers are relying on them less and less. Also marketing’s traditional role in building pipeline to tee up sellers for direct engagement in a “serial” or linear manner is being disrupted.
The article was heavy on statistics but not visually so. I decided to pull some out and focus on the things I found interesting.
One of the mind boggling statistics which is actually a status of pre pandemic views is encircled. You can imagine that now, post pandemic, it is even lower as personal interactions comes under pressure and more activities are conducted online.
The other mind boggling stat is the one at the bottom and how that is even higher for younger buyers who are going to increasingly bring this view to the fore.
All this points to sellers having an increasingly hard time getting in front of buyers and companies having to focus on amplifying the ways buyers now increasingly inform their decisions as the article points out.
Something else to focus on – customer success
In place of the question mark in the featured image and in addition to the excellent recommendations in the HBR article focused on getting buyers the right info, this is what I suggest B2B vendors also focus on:
Customer Successes that can be captured and shared with other prospective customers. So in other words, customer advocacy. Whatever form that takes (online stories, case studies or webinars with customers) it needs to be super authentic and succinct. Having the mechanism behind this requires a customer success and marketing operation driving these things – something similar to what I describe in this trend I am watching: Customer Success Marketing and Scale.
Customer Success itself as an organisation, profession and operation is very much geared to ensuring renewals and drive upsells and cross sells from existing customers. So my suggestion would be to focus on getting this right and a huge customer base that already exists would be properly leveraged and protected against churn. The art of doing that is for another post, or read some of my other posts in this category.
Gartner has just published a press release with some data on the survey they conducted amongst 273 people serving as directors or members of corporate boards of directors in US, Europe and Asia-Pacific.
I’ve highlighted two of the stats that stood out for me in the infographic. But first, for the one, I had to try and figure out what the heck they meant by “attempted to alter their enterprise economic structure to a more digital economic architecture.”
Gartner explained this meant boards were trying to accommodate digital investments by “changing their capital allocation and governance approaches.”
40% of respondents said they have already moved some digital business-related budgets to business functions, according to Gartner, as opposed to a more centralized tech or IT budget.
One in every three told Gartner that they have also changed the metrics that are used in order to evaluate the returns coming from digital investments.
So for me this is the first of the significant stats. It signifies that they want to put control of digital initiatives in the hands of those that control the commercial destiny and success of the firm, i.e. out of IT into business. This is not new but the percentage is striking and bodes really well. This is where digital initiatives should reside. Not that IT will no longer be involved, quite the contrary as you can read from the press release, but they will play a different and lesser role, as it should be.
The second stat around digital tech initiatives being the highest amongst 7 other strategic business initiatives is the other one that stood out. Again, as it should be. Why?
Because as Bain’s Technology Report 2021 puts it, if you think we’ve reached peak disruption and innovation, think again. This decade will see an explosion of new opportunities as cloud models evolve, AI blossoms, and every company puts technology at the heart of virtually everything they do.
All the charts (click on any to view enlarged) come from an article in the The Information from various different sources: 12 Charts That Show How Tech Took Off During a Year of Shutdowns. The full article requires a subscription but I can share access to The Information with 5 friends or colleagues completely free for 30 days – contact me if interested. It’s well worth it as they do a thorough breakdown of each chart and they are an excellent news source besides.
Here is my super slimmed down, sense-making take on all this, in a nutshell (enough of the superlatives already):
Saying that tech has benefitted from the pandemic sounds like a statement from the department of the bleedin’ obvious. Of course it has and for many obvious reasons. One of them is that technology aids remote work especially technology that is purpose built for it, like collaboration software that supports asynchronous work. Other times, its just that companies that have digitised processes really well stand to benefit – like ride hailing (which didn’t necessarily benefit from the pandemic but have prospered nevertheless) and food delivery (which did).
I’m surprised gaming was not included because that is another huge beneficiary. Other than home working, its probably the biggest reason for the spike in bandwidth.
The jobs dive and start-up formation are more than likely directly correlated. Indirectly too, the move to life online and emptier offices. The general investment, valuations and listings frenzy is probably all down to opportunists or investors wanting to cash in – who knows what happens when the real effects of the pandemic are felt 😬