The Hudson River flows from the Adirondacks southward to New York Harbor. In some places it is peaceful and picturesque, in others, busy with large commercial ships, high winds, and changing tides. If you’re navigating the river in a small boat, it’s important to pay attention to your surroundings and keep an eye on your destination. A boat that is adrift poses a great danger to itself and its occupants.
Like a boat meandering about the Hudson, many of us have marketing and sales operations that are adrift. They are neither tethered to our company’s goals nor helping transport us to our business objectives. And they pose a danger. According to Jason Kramer, CEO of Cultivize, businesses often seek technology to help them navigate through their problems, but if not done right, they just create more problems.
Establishing Expectations for Technology
When companies of all sizes have success and experience growth, challenges soon follow. Business leaders may realize that their marketing, sales, and operations aren’t as integrated and efficient as they once were. According to Kramer, “this is when many organizations seek software to solve their problems.”
However, Kramer adds, technology, alone, doesn’t solve problems. “Companies need a strategy on how they will leverage technology and come up with a game plan to fit the technology to the problem they have and identify key performance indicators to tell them they are on track to a solution.”
Kramer also says that the problems caused by skipping this all important first step aren’t all that different for small and large companies, wasted time and money. In a way, by selecting a technology solution that isn’t a good fit or adopting technology without first establishing a strategy for its use, companies are simply creating more problems, according to Kramer.
Establish Ground Truth by Looking Under the Hood
If your organization is using marketing and sales technology and you are disappointed by the results, it’s time for some ground truth analysis. Kramer calls this “looking under the hood” like a mechanic would do if an automobile engine isn’t running well.
He recalls a company that adopted an automated email marketing tool. Manually sending out marketing emails became too labor intensive, and they sought to recapture time spent by the sales team on what they saw as an administrative task. Additionally, upper management was convinced, whether true or not, that sending more emails would increase sales. Despite sending more marketing emails each week, their customer engagement decreased, and customers reported not receiving the emails at all. The business concluded that the technology was faulty.
In fact, Kramer says the problem was that the company didn’t tailor their marketing and sales activities for the technology’s features. The increase in emails sent the company’s marketing blasts straight to spam folders, although open rates did not reflect it. They also did not segment their audience, instead sending the same email to their entire database. Customers that had recently purchased products as a response to an email announcing an introductory offer, received the same email several times. This resulted in a poor customer experience, just the opposite of what they wanted.
Kramer’s advice, “don’t be too quick to blame the technology, but take time to understand what the problem is and take appropriate action.” When it comes to software technology, organizations can waste a great deal of time and money trying to solve the wrong problem.
Consider All the Ingredients Needed for Success
Kramer advises businesses seeking technology to better engage prospects or automate time-consuming activities to make sure they have their own marketing and sales processes established. Adding technology intended to help you with a process that does not exist is fruitless.
If you have well-established marketing and sales processes, adding technology, even with the intent to help, will be disruptive. Identify a champion, or champions, who will quickly embrace the new technology, get some early wins with it, and share them openly with the entire team to encourage adoption.
Don’t rely only on the technology provider for training. You know your personnel best and how they learn. Develop a customized training plan in consultation with the provider. Kramer cautions against a one and done training session or training that relies too heavily on tutorials that must be accessed by users on their own. Instead, Kramer recommends that even the simplest technology be introduced in stages, giving time for users to apply a set of features then adding more features and more complexity with each incremental training session.
Technology alone will not solve problems or significantly improve marketing and sales. If a technology solution will be used to automate emails to prosects, invest in making the content something that the prospects will want to engage with. This may require writers if you don’t have them, and graphic designers too.
Watch Out for These Pitfalls
According to Kramer, one of the most common pitfalls that businesses should be on the lookout for is not having a clear business-related purpose for adopting technology intended to support marketing and sales. Take time to clearly identify a business outcome you desire before beginning your search for a technology solution.
More technology solution providers are creating websites that offer highly influential demonstrations and a self-service experience. Kramer cautions us, “that it is easy to find yourself committed to a year-long subscription for something you’ve never used.”
It is common for companies to have large gaps in information regarding the buyer’s journey. They distribute marketing material, they measure sales, but they have no idea what the buyer is doing before they reveal themselves to the sales team as an active sales qualified lead. The seller companies often make assumptions that a certain piece of marketing collateral led to a sale. Kramer tells us to be careful to understand the difference between an assumption and a fact and avoid important decisions based on assumptions. Rather, use technology to confirm your assumptions and turn them into facts to support decision making.
And finally, Kramer says businesses with a culture in which no one wants to admit they made a mistake can really do some harm. Companies will hang on to technology for years because they simply are afraid to admit that an error was made. Once you realize you have the wrong technology for your needs, or aren’t using it effectively, act quickly to resolve it.
Jason Kramer is the CEO of Cultivize and has 20 years of marketing experience which allows him to marry his technology skills with a marketing approach. He is formally trained as a brand strategist and holds a communications design degree from Syracuse University. Jason started his career as a graphic designer at New York City advertising agencies working with global clients in the travel, food, and liquor industries. Seeing an opportunity to help startups and small businesses with an alternative option in lieu of hiring several freelancers, Jason started his first company in 2022, a pioneering virtual agency long before that concept existed. For over 15 years Jason’s agency, JLK Creative, worked with a wide variety of service-based companies in the metro New York area helping them with banding, web development, print, and email marketing.
In 2018, Jason founded Cultivize and leveraged his existing partnership with SharpSpring. Today, Cultivize is one of only a handful of Platinum Certified SharpSpring partners in the world and 100% focused on coaching, empowering, and implementing CRM and lead nurturing for his clients.
Jason lives an hour north of Manhataan with his wife and two children, and two dogs, Millie and Roscoe, who are rescues. He enjoys being outdoors, when it’s warm, boating on the Hudson River, seeing live music, and visiting new breweries whenever he finds one.
The Cultivize team helps B2B and D2C companies streamline their sales and marketing processes, retain more clients, improve repeat buyers, and enhance their internal and external communications. They also collaborate with agencies to help their clients amplify their lead-gen results by delivering a process to nurture and educate leads through the buyer’s journey.
Unlike other CRM companies, they educate and train their client’s teams, customize their implementation, and help them along the way every month to maximize their results. Learn more at Cultivize.