The early New Year is a time to freshen-up the tech marketing plan for your business. Before writing your 90-day plan for the first quarter of the New Year, take a moment to reflect on what’s not working and what you could be doing differently.

Take a read from the CEO and sales leader interviews Newton Day has conducted in 2019, and you’d find the biggest sales inhibitors are these:

The Problem Areas of Tech Marketing in 2019

  • Sales and marketing teams overburdened with tech tools and not working well together
  • The transition to inbound/outbound sales is not where it needs to be
  • CRM systems are taking too much time out of the day for salespeople
  • Sales leaders remain starved of useful data that would help to focus sales efforts towards the most profitable customers and prospects
  • A lack of sales resources and effort going into growing existing customers

Another key failure that might’ve made the list is, employing several specialist Marketing, Creative, PR, SEO, Social, Video and Sales Enablement agencies instead of working with ONE agency that offers the all-in-one methods-based sales enablement service (erm, like Newton-Day!)… but I digress!

Setting out your 2020 Tech Marketing Plan

From our market research in 2019, what are the top three things we could recommend tech businesses to do differently in 2020? That’s what we debated in our team meeting and these are our BEST RECOMMENDATIONS for up-gearing your 2020 tech marketing plan:

  1. Invest more in ‘knowing your profitable customers and prospects better’
  2. Split your marketing plan into the four key areas of sales
  3. Write up a conversational plan first before drilling into the detail

Let’s dig in:

1. Invest in ‘knowing your profitable customers and prospects better’

Sales leaders find that much of the important data used to profile their most profitable accounts is trapped within financial management, order management, customer support, sales, project and HR systems. Creating a holistic understanding of customers is still a big problem for tech companies, and a difficult one to solve.

Get to know your most important accounts

The latest generation of private-cloud software platforms like [Encanvas] equip sales teams with the tech tools they need to craft an effective Sales Information Management System. Expect a ‘SIMS’ to harvest data from existing systems and create a new data mart that provides accurate and reliable views of prospects. Sales leaders use these systems to focus sales resources and campaigns on profitable target customers. This avoids a costly dilution of sales effort towards prospects that don’t represent profitable business because of (either) the high cost of acquisition (cost of sale) or the low profit on products and services they buy.

Adopt a Sales Information Management System

Modern solutions to sales information management include tools to triangulate on the most attractive markets to canvas, extending the target audience by harvesting profiles from third-party systems like Dunn and Bradstreet. They offer rich data visualization to cut down time spent analyzing data.

Prevent sales leaders from becoming analysts

When traditional business intelligence tools are put to work in the role of sales information management, they equip sales leaders with a tool-kit to create their own reports and views of data, but also demand a huge amount of time to make them work. For sales leaders tasked with creating wealth for the company, becoming applications owners and data analysts isn’t what they signed up for and it’s something they could definitely do without. This is why the latest tech tools focus on supplying the sales intelligence that sales leaders need, not the task of finding out. Expect to see figures first—the key data you need to understand what’s happening in your customers, prospect audience and sales channels—distilled by charts, graphs and KPIs but not led by them.

2. Split your tech company marketing plan into the five key areas of sales FIRST

There are FOUR stages in the sales lifecycle—(1)seduction/attraction, (2) engagement/winning, (3) retaining and, (4) growing accounts—not one. Ordinarily, tech companies spend up to 80% of their budget chasing new business rather than leveraging the accounts they’ve already won. This, even though it’s much easier to sell to customers!

Overcome distractions from big ticket marketing budget items

The odd focus of marketing spend happens because the annual budget is most commonly spent on projects to win new customers. Several of these will be infrastructure and platform projects that are big ticket items, difficult to cost and measure outcomes on. Examples might include, ‘Install email marketing system,’ or ‘Video marketing.’ It’s better to split these horizontal costs across vertical campaigns that are linked to measurable sales outcomes. That way, you can do ONE, test to see if it works, then build on success.

Create campaign conversational paths to articulate your budget spend

Draw out the conversational paths you plan to have with customers and prospects, i.e. Map out your audience, the job they want to do, why your solution is best, the place you expect to meet them, what your proposition is, how you will turn the conversation into an opportunity to engage with sales etc.

3. Write up your conversational plan first before drilling into the budget detail

Writing budgets can quickly turn into one gigantic spreadsheet that somehow manages to lose the ambition and the purpose in its detail. If I could encourage you to do a little more planning before jumping into the detail—I prefer to start with documenting a series of priority bullet points and some big hairy goals that have some metrics of expected performance outcomes tied to them. Collectively, they should answer the big questions:

  1. What proportion of your profit will come from each of the three areas of selling:
    • New Business?
    • Existing Business?
    • Growth Business?
  2. How will you split your efforts across your product/service portfolio?
  3. What customer/market segments do you expect to source the income you need?
  4. What people/process/systems/data do you need to fund to get results?
  5. How will you measure success?

Once you’ve answered these questions, then you can start to write a conversational plan that articulates how you’ll create value for your customer segments and how you plan to engage them in conversation. Falling out from this should be a good action list—and each action should have an owners and clear (measurable) outcome.

Final thoughts

At one time, there was a sales department and a marketing department and a big void between the two. Marketing would be made responsible for generating leads, while sales was assigned the task of closing them. Or something like that. In your business, that has to change if you want to succeed in today’s markets. Achieving sales results requires both marketing and sales enablement skills. Agencies that offer both are the winning ticket for tech companies looking to boost their B2B sales success. Newton-Day offers both the delivery capabilities and the specialist tech industry understanding that’s necessary to drive results.

So when you get back to the grind-stone, I encourage you to take a step back and think about…

  • ALL FOUR PHASES of the sales lifecycle…
  • Sales enablement, not just marketing…
  • Look to achieve spend outcomes rather than activities…
  • Get to know what you’re most profitable target audience looks like…
  • Create a conversational plan…

..and achieve game-changing results in 2020!

To all our customers, prospects and B2B Sales Enablement Community, have a Happy New Year!