11 ways B2Bs can shape up their martech
Words of advice from two APAC B2B martech heavyweights: Ansell’s Mitchell Mackey and Telstra Wholesale’s Glenn Flower.
Marketing technology tends to evoke one of two reactions in B2B marketers. There’s praise for its ability to target qualified sales leads and improve customer personalisation. And there’s frustration because it can be so difficult to set up, synchronise and use effectively.
Mitchell Mackey understands why marketing technology polarises marketers. That’s why the Marketing Director at Ansell Healthcare prefers to use direct language when talking about martech, which he says works best when people understand its potential and apply fundamental principles.
“Everyone talks about innovation, transformation and business-model change,” Mackey says. “I really think for the vast majority of enterprises of any size and structure, the real value comes from consistently getting the basics right.” He’s certainly firm on one thing: don’t leave martech decisions to your IT department. “You have to make these crucial decisions together with your IT colleagues in a genuine partnership, with business in the lead.”
Mackey says he introduced marketing and sales automation to Ansell seven years ago. Even after that time, it remains an evolutionary process. “Ansell’s a global company, and we use Marketo for marketing automation and Salesforce for customer relationship management (CRM),” he says. “We need to constantly drive for improved adoption and process maturity across our regions.”
Another established martech expert in the Asia-Pacific region is Telstra Wholesale’s General Manager Marketing, Glenn Flower. In Telstra’s vast and complicated marketing environment, Flower and his team are building a martech stack they say reduces costs, improves sales and marketing alignment, and promotes engagement. “For example, we’ve been able to automate a lot of our communications through dynamic content and ongoing personalisation,” he says.
But Flower, who admits to having “a real passion” for technology, believes there are no magic, off-the-shelf solutions. “No one [martech] brand can deliver 100 per cent of the value, because each of the brands has something unique and compelling that brings something to the table,” he says. “You need to be able to tie all the brands together so they are the best fit for your business.”
Here are 11 top tips from Mackey and Flower to help B2B marketers get on top of their martech planning and execution.
1. Start now, not tomorrow
“The market is moving so quickly that if you plan and plan and plan you’ll find the plan is very quickly out of date,” Flower says. “You’ve got to be learning as you move through the process.”
2. Don’t leave it to IT
“These are business decisions that must be made by business people, in partnership with your business technology partners – not your IT people alone,” Mackey says. “You need to go into partnership with them but you are in the lead. You need to sit down with an IT professional and have a challenging, robust conversation. You must be focused on both getting the basics right and innovating your business model – not simply on maintaining the status quo.”
3. Ensure you’re IT-literate
“To have a senior role today, it’s always assumed and expected you’ll have financial literacy,” Mackey says. “Today, you must also have business technology literacy. That doesn’t mean you need to know how to code HTML5. But it does mean that you understand the importance of making the right business technology decisions that will come together in integrated sales and marketing front-end, connected with your transactional enterprise resource planning (ERP) back-end. If you don’t do that, you won’t differentiate around the customer experience because you’ll have too many constraints and legacy systems, and legacy attitudes inhibit the flow of value.”
4. Adopt a sophisticated approach
“You must understand your CRM and what marketing automation is all about,” Mackey says. “Your CRM – your engagement engine – is the heart of the business. It’s critical that you make the right choices there. CRM is no longer just sales automation, and account and contact opportunity management. It’s service automation, it’s your community. It’s embedding all of that with artificial intelligence (AI) to help you make better and smarter decisions. And it’s ensuring that your CRM platform integrates with your enterprise network, your environment – your central nervous system. You must get this right. If your people go into battle with second-rate weapons systems, well, good luck.”
5. Begin with customer experience in mind
“That’s a great way to prioritise the whole 360-degree decision-making marketers need to make,” Flower says. “It helps them understand what’s really critical.”
6. Spend the budget on training and support
“A lot of people have spent a lot of money on marketing automation systems and data management platforms and not seen the business value,” Mackey says. “I would argue that these poor decisions highlight the need to be business technology literate. And don’t spend $1 on the software subscription license fee and 5 cents on training and change management. When this happens it should be no surprise that people wonder where the business value is in these tools. I’m a firm believer that if you spend $1 on the software subscription licence, you need to spend $3 on planning, change management and support. The lack of training and skills is a huge issue.”
7. Seek help: there’s plenty around
“Salesforce, the leading CRM platform, has invested big-time in Trailhead, which is their online learning management platform,” Mackey says. “They see that as a huge differentiator for them. They have a huge, dynamic library of training programs and courses. People in the Salesforce world right now are all trying to get their credentials and achievement badges in Trailhead. This is something to highlight now on LinkedIn profiles. Overall, both a corporate and a personal commitment to enabling training and learning on what modern marketing and sales is all about – using innovative, 21st-century platforms – is critical.”
8. Stay optimised and aware
Flower says martech is a journey, not a destination. “This is a process of continual improvement and refinement because not everything is mature today and not everything works perfectly,” he says. “Through experience, trialling and failure you learn to put different things together that work.”
Mackey points out that Salesforce releases three waves of functionality and features every year. “You should be thinking: ‘How do we take advantage of Salesforce’s new Einstein [AI] capabilities? Is this relevant to us? What resources, money, effort, people do we need to get switched on there?’ And if you’re using another platform, from say Microsoft, you should be adopting the same mindset.”
9. Don’t get distracted by shiny things
Mackey says marketers need to resist the temptation to choose the latest technology, especially if they inherit a martech stack. “They will be looking at it, thinking, ‘Well, did my predecessor make the right choices? What is the conversion cost if we move to another tool?’ One of my weaknesses is that I’m always interested in the next shiny new thing. Which, of course, can be a distraction.
“Most companies don’t get the basics right. Focus on identifying the constraints that are causing frustrations for your customers. Take those constraints out and focus on delivering this flow of value – end to end.”
10. Don’t just concentrate on new customers
Similarly, it’s easy for marketers to set up their martech to focus on acquisitions, treating potential new customers as more critical than existing clients. “For the majority of us, recurring revenue is huge,” Mackey says. “It’s not just all about acquisition, net new customers. Retaining customers, especially in the B2B game, is often about how easy we are to do business with. It’s a reputational issue, too. Marketing needs to have an awareness of these factors and influence [the business]. You’ve got to have as few barriers and silos as possible. I like to say it must operate as an orchestra, where every player has to perform in synch to deliver a smooth flow of end-to-end value to customers.”
11. Remain patient
“Make sure you don’t think that you’re going to get it right come tomorrow because you won’t,” Flower says. “It’s a challenge. Sometimes we still get caught up in our own processes, in our own operations, in our own focus on delivering something. We [Telstra Wholesale] are still learning on the job. But we’re lucky we had these assets available to us, and it’s been awesome. Now we’re just finishing that process of tying them all together.”
Further reading: Who owns martech – marketing or IT?
Photo: Victor Freitas on Unsplash