Digital disruption is changing almost every industry in the world. New technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and big data are reshaping how companies across all walks of life do business.
Marketing and sales are two aspects of business that have always been very people-oriented. While human interaction is still a major part of these industries, technology is changing the way things get done. AI is making digital communication with customers more human-like. Big data is giving salespeople more prospect information than they have ever had before. Machine learning is predicting what clients will want before they ask for it.
As with any new technology, early adopters have to embrace it and demonstrate its viability before it goes mainstream. Most companies don't want to be the first to try something new for fear it may be disastrous. However, in the last two years the early adopters of AI in digital sales and marketing technologies have proven that AI is in fact a revolutionary advance.
There are a handful of companies that are at the forefront of changing sales and marketing technology in innovative ways.
Here's a list of the top ten digital disruptors of sales and marketing to keep an eye on in 2018:
The CRM industry has been dominated by Salesforce for years. But recently, that vice grip on the market has loosened as competing CRMs have begun to pioneer new technologies and focus on the biggest customer issues not addressed by Salesforce. Base CRM has made a name for itself by leveraging machine learning and AI to create a prescriptive sales function - alerts and information pulled from active data monitoring delivered to salespeople to help them close deals. They have packed that technology into a consumer friendly interface that engages its users, a remarkable feat in an industry known for its dusty enterprise software.
Comprised of former Googlers, Node is a data intelligence company restructuring how the web is organized. They focus on gathering data on people and companies and properly structuring it to reflect its relevance to anyone who may try to search for it. They are leveraging big data and machine learning to create a centralized database of B2B information about business opportunities, sales prospects, ideal customer profiles and more. Instead of scraping Google and other search engines for crucial company information, Node puts it all in one convenient location.
At the cutting edge of marketing technology today you hear a lot of terms like 'omnichannel', 'audience of one', 'behavioral analytics', and so on. What the best companies do is specialize, and that is what StackAdapt has done by bringing behavioral analytics to native advertising. Yes, they are omnichannel and all those other things, too, but they are not aiming to be all things to all people. Instead, they have built a platform that is especially good at that one thing. It is also a strategic choice, as advertising is experiencing backlash in many of its forms, content in the form of native ads is being embraced as the future.
Clari is as much a data company as they are a sales company. Big data is a remarkable tool for any metric-based profession today and sales is no exception. Clari is constantly looking for new ways to apply data science to give sales teams a better edge on their competition and to better approach their leads. On top of that, they're enabling sales executives to track forecasts, ensure sales are being closed on time, and even help manage a team of salespeople. Clari is leveraging big data to hone in on all the important parts of the sales process. It gives more ability to the sales team and gets them doing what they do best.
AgilOne's cloud-based platform is a marketing database for predictive customer analytics. They give marketing professionals the tools to craft campaigns with more effective messages and greater net results. One of the problems marketers face most often is poor data on their customers. AgilOne relieves them of this burden by centralizing customer data and presenting it in a way that gives the marketer a 360 degree view of who they're working with. It's an all-purpose tool for multi-channel marketers looking to unify their customer data.
Beckon is an enterprise-based marketing software that presents real-time marketing intelligence for quick decision making. Marketing campaigns are highly time-sensitive and require a deep understanding of what to say and when to say it. Beckon believes that in order for information to work when it's needed, it must be true, accurate data. Their entire focus is on creating a network of information tailored to any customer base that can aid in marketing on any level. Not only does it collect customer data, but it can track all performance information as well. It provides an unparalleled view of the marketing process.
Gong.io is putting artificial intelligence to work in the sales process. Salesmen and women are on sales calls all day. It's hard to spend the time analyzing what they did right and what they didn't. Gong's platform automatically records, transcribes and analyzes sales calls. The information from these calls is then simplified down, categorized, and presented to a sales coach. This makes the process of improving sales skills immensely less time consuming and far less of a headache for the entire team. This level of information hasn't been available in the past, but with the power of AI, it's all a reality for sales teams in the digital age.
Cogito is creating better salespeople in real-time. That's right; while a salesperson is on the phone with a lead, they can be receiving feedback during their call and guidance on how to close the deal. With artificial intelligence, Cogito is making sales coaching an instantaneous process that doesn't require trial and error that results in lost leads. Salespeople can get on the phone with confidence, knowing that a simple slip-up won't mean the end of that lead. The more conversations their platform listens to, the better it is able to guide a call in the right direction.
Influential is an influencer platform that matches brands with social media influencers relevant to their vertical. They are developer partners of IBM Watson which allows them deep data enrichment on a very highly developed AI platform. Marketing is experiencing a mass change with new technology, and social media has created an entirely new way to reach a target audience. With so many influencers already capturing the attention of a desired market, being able to connect with them is key to a successful influencer campaign. Influential is the only platform that is putting brands in touch with the influencers they need.
It's inevitable that at one point or another, marketing dollars will be spent in an area that yields no results. This should never become a habit. Convertro is a tool built specifically to avoid that problem. Their entire platform is built to empower marketing professionals to re-allocate marketing funds from unprofitable sources to more profitable ones. With the combined might of artificial intelligence and big data, they can use algorithmic attribution models to measure a number of variables which determine the benefit of marketing dollars in any specific place. It can ensure that another dollar is never wasted on bad marketing opportunities.