Professionals who have contact with customers are now "touching" with technology. With each passing day, sales, marketing, and even customer service positions are becoming increasingly focused on technology. In a one-on-one interview with SearchCRM.com, Stephen Diorio, President, IMT Strategies, shares his thoughts on the 12 impacts of technology on sales and marketing.
"Over the next ten years, rapidly changing technology will impact most aspects of sales and marketing strategy and management," explains Diorio. "In particular, the rush to deploy e-business, Web marketing and CRM solutions will transform the role of the sales and marketing professional."
According to Diorio, to drive profitable growth, sales and marketing leaders should do the following:
- Maximize the return on investment (ROI) on all sales and marketing investments;
- Anticipate and capitalize on rapid changes in customer buying behavior;
- Find ways to leverage interactive, database, and network technologies to grow sales; and
- Stay one-step ahead of new business models and online competition.
In order to accomplish these points, management must reallocate the sales and marketing investment mix to fund more high-performance Web marketing tools. Additionally, they must invent new business models that "leapfrog" the competition and rewrite sales and marketing rules.
One of the key challenges of this initiative will be to balance strategic planning with timely action. Sales and marketing leaders will be distinguished from the follows by their effectiveness in setting and following through on the right business priorities. Leaders will move quickly to take advantage of opportunities such as Internet trading communities and distribution through affiliate partnerships.
In this dynamically-challenging, information-intensive environment, most executives have learned that staying on top of the latest e-business and customer-centered trends is more than a full-time job. Leaders need a way to define and prioritize the myriad challenges that they face.
Diorio and IMT Strategies have identified 12 ways technology is changing the sales and marketing executive's job:
- Collaborative customer relationship management (CRM): Organizations must assemble and integrate customer relationship management (CRM) systems that enhance customer collaboration and build customer loyalty and exit barriers.
- Outsourcing sales and marketing functions: Organizations must strategically outsource sales and marketing budgets to a new generation of businesses, including marketing agencies, e-commerce utilities and service providers, and e-channel partners to obtain talent, technical expertise, and cost efficiencies.
- Customer-centric organizations: Organizations must recast their familiar organizational and functional models, transforming them into a natural extension of customer segmentation, enterprise selling processes, and complex demand chain partnerships.
- Operationalizing e-care: Organizations must adopt enterprise-wide management of the customer care processes to ensure seamless service and enhanced intimacy across multiple-channel interfaces and throughout the customer lifecycle.
- Hybrid distribution systems: Organizations must build multi-channel, hybrid distribution systems that leverage low-cost, high-touch technologies to improve cost efficiency, market coverage, and overall selling performance.
- Value-added direct sales: Organizations must migrate the role of direct sales to better align high-touch, face-to-face selling interactions with high-value and high-margin products and services.
- Demand chain remediation: Organizations must restructure demand chain relationships to maximize value creation and customer access while leveraging costs and value-added channel partnerships.
- Customer interaction centers: Organizations must consolidate and integrate call center, Web, e-mail, fax, and marketing technology assets to better manage selling resources, technology infrastructure, and customer interactions.
- Product channel readiness: Organizations must design modular, "channel-ready" products optimized for specific sales channels, partners, and customer segments, improving personalization, ease of doing business, and transaction costs.
- Dynamic pricing and trading: Organizations must creatively manage the impact of buy- and sell-side technologies and trading communities on margins and pricing.
- Changing role of branding: Organizations must aggressively build brand equity in e-channels, in virtual communities, and across multiple selling partners, channels, and points of interaction (POI).
- Interactive direct marketing: Organizations must deploy new tools, approaches, and strategies for anticipating or influencing the way customers buy.
Determining which of these twelve areas are of most importance to your specific organization is a first step in acknowledging the impact of technology on sales and marketing and in moving your organization into the world of e-business.
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