Reflecting on some of my closing remarks from end of 2016, this stood out:
” I anticipate that we will start to see consolidation in the sales tech space where piecemeal solutions will start to become irrelevant.”
Somewhat unexpectedly during the AA-ISP Leadership Summit in Chicago a few weeks ago, I learned that Toutapp, a competitor for email analytics, had just been acquired by Marketo. A lot of details about the acquisition have not been made public, but one thing is painstakingly clear: this was not a desirable outcome for Toutapp’s investors, who had injected a combined capital of $21.5 million over the course of it’s six-year history. I don’t want to get into the mechanics of the deal, as I am sure people closer to the opportunity have much more to say about it.
Here’s the big question: Is this the start of the anticipated consolidation? The rift between sales and marketing is a decades old debacle where entire markets have emerged aimed at getting these two departments to operate under one banner, or cooperate better to improve their relationship. I now believe there is a tectonic shift taking place, where the boundaries of these roles will not be explicit as they use to be, and these old lines will blur and may fade entirely. So what does that mean?
SalespeopleTrusted Advisors in 2017
While I don’t believe the two roles will disappear, they will certainly evolve very quickly into an amalgamation of both sales and marketing. The latest example that we’ve seen is sales teams becoming empowered to build their own relationships in the digital age. Previously, these relationships may have been built on visiting clients, on-site presentations and steak dinners. Salespeople would give clients an update on new developments & products, and caught up on opportunities may be shaping up for new business on the client’s side. Now, customers no longer need anyone to come on-site and give them a briefing on the company, product or value proposition. Customers increasingly want to educate themselves in their own time. How will salespeople build these relationships when they cannot meet the customers or prospects?
The most important point I mentioned in my “End of 2016” post was the new role of the trusted advisor. A salesperson will continuously need to nurture these online or phone-based relationships and be on the top of their prospect’s mind as the expert with the most valuable insights for their prospect’s issues. Previously marketing would run a campaign on a fixed schedule, and the lead time for sales to work that campaign was several weeks. Today sales reps take matters in their own hands and can start different types of campaigns anytime using software such as Fileboard Workflow. Total commitment and support from marketing is still to create content that gets opened and delivers valuable insights into the customer’s needs, in fact marketing probably needs to do even more of that.
Comprehensive Sales Stacks are the key to a successful pipeline.
In Marketo’s case, they have just absorbed a piecemeal solution of sales tech to extend their own platform. I assume they plan to use Toutapp to start addressing the adjacent market of sales folks. There is a small possibility that they are adding a missing layer to their marketing solution with Toutapp’s software, but this appears to be a move to start acquiring sales teams as clients and also provide them one integrated platform. Whether a single marketing technology stack is the optimal business solution remains to be seen, as marketing automation platforms are designed specifically to serve marketing teams.
It’s entirely possible that companies serving a strong marketing tech stack aim to expand their offering to serve sales teams. Their strong customer bases speak to a demand for single solutions, not piecemeal offerings. To really serve a sales team, they need to address all the needs of the sales team and that simply will not come from one trick pony solutions. You can see this strategy coming back at Hubspot; they offer a very clear distinction between their sales and marketing stack.
At Fileboard we believe in the complete sales engagement platform as the optimal solution for a business sales stack. We expect our stack to compliment existing marketing solutions. As sales teams become more savvy into their evolving role and behave more like marketing teams, they will need technology to support them. So as the skillset and processes may start to change, we expect that sales teams will look to be served by technology that support all their needs.
As for Marketo’s acquisition of Toutapp, this could be start of consolidation of the sales technology providers which is frankly speaking becoming a crowded market with a lot of piecemeal solutions. Incumbants looking to serve sales teams who already have a marketing stack will be better served by investing in a complete sales platform then looking to bolt on features to their marketing platforms. At the end of the day the fundamentals of these roles will always be different and their accountability, in case of sales always more explicit, sales quotas. Lets not try to enforce behaviour on 6 million reps by forcing technology that does not align with their needs but provide technology that adopts their changing roles.