There's no shortage of tech tools glistening with promises to help sales and marketing professionals reach more customers and close more deals. Too many organizations have gotten lost in the hype. They've purchased tools that aren't used and, worse yet, aren't driving revenue. These tools are sluggishly gnawing away at companies' (already shoestring) budgets. 

I recently chatted with Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing, about the current challenges facing sales and marketing teams. Matt has been named one of the "Top 50 Most Influential People in Sales Lead Management" (multiple times) and has been cited among the "Top 50 Sales and Marketing Influencers". 

Technology is not a strategy.

We're quick to turn to technology as a cure-all to solve all our problems ("there's an app for that"). Heinz warns that organizations overlook (choose to ignore, perhaps) the fact that technology is not a strategy. 

Too frequently, when an organization identifies that a technology is capable of solving a tactical problem, it quickly metamorphoses into a kid in a candy shop. The saccharine allure results in too many of them purchasing tools without first thinking through a strategy or considering the implications.

Tools are purchased without considering whether they are a need-to-have and without investing in the people and resources required to implement and integrate them with existing systems. The result is counterproductive to the outcome they hoped to achieve.

At one point, I worked at an organization where four different project management tools were used by various teams--Slack, Basecamp, Trello, and Asana. The time required to log in to each platform on an at least daily basis and monitor updates was overwhelming. As a diehard Slack fan, using the other platforms only left me frustrated, furiously basking in the knowledge I could be many-fold more productive using one platform (Slack) to interact with the various teams via four different Slack channels. 

It's time for a technology audit.  

Regardless of whether you are a 10-person startup or a multinational conglomerate, you've likely purchased sales and marketing tools that are doing little more than accumulating dust. Heinz recommends that organizations conduct an audit of the technologies in their sales and marketing stacks on a regular basis (at least one to two times a year). During this audit, companies should seek to answer the following fundamental questions: 

  • Which tools are your sales and marketing teams actively using? Which are lying dormant?

  • Which tools are delivering on the success metrics you set out to achieve? 
  • Which tools have declined in utility since your last audit? 
  • Are there newer tools on the market that supersede the functionality of existing tools? 
  • Which tools are duplicative with other tools in your technology stack? 

This last question is essential. With the rapid advancement of technology, sales and marketing technologies quickly become obsolete. Heinz noted, "30 years ago, it was somewhat novel for you to be able to send an email from a sales rep and be able to see who had opened and clicked on it. Now, this is table stakes. Many tools have [the feature]." 

Many companies continue to pay $100/user/month for a tool simply because it's been baked into the budget. They don't take the time to appreciate that they've also purchased one or more other tools that offer very similar solutions. Not only is this uneconomical, it's also incredibly inefficient and confusing for end users. During an audit, take the time determine which of your tools are duplicative and which ought to be uprooted. 

How many tools should you include in your sales and marketing stacks? While there's no right answer, Heinz recommends that companies purchase a solution to address each of the following categories:  

  1. CRM system. For many companies, this will be Salesforce
  2. Marketing automation platform. For many companies, this will be Marketo. 
  3. Predictive intelligence platform. These platforms collect and monitor intent signals and trigger events that indicate whether a customer exhibits a high buying propensity for an offering. Mintigo, 6Sense, and CaliberMind are key predictive intelligence platform players. 
  4. Attribution platform. With the B2B buying process becoming increasingly complex, companies must be able to determine the relative impact of different campaigns in influencing customers and generating revenue. You can't manage what you don't measure. "Let's not pretend that the white paper download generated the 7-figure deal." Bizible, Full Circle Insights, and Allocadia are key attribution platform players. 

According to Heinz, most organizations probably don't need (and shouldn't have) more than one CRM system or more than one marketing automation platform. Depending on your organization's complexity, you may benefit from multiple predictive intelligence and attribution platforms. 

It's critical that organizations become more strategic about evaluating the technologies in their sales and marketing stacks. Separate the "nice-to-haves" from the "need-to-haves". Figure out which tools matter most to your business. Don't be a hoarder. By diligently conducting audits, you'll prime your sales and marketing teams for success.