MarTech up-selling & Buyer-upsetting

June 26, 2019 Koen De Witte

Sales and Marketing technology is a great thing and we love its productivity enabling quality. We live in a world where most of the (larger) marketing automation platforms have been gobbled up and are now part of a tech stack offered by the likes of Oracle, Salesforce, Adobe, SAP and others. However, as a result of these acquisitions, marketing automation's original revenue enablement (and closed loop measurement) promise is now diluted to a more 'high level' and less tangible position about "experience". It's great to see these mega-technology providers create aspirations about customer experience and engagement. But enablement is not a synonym for revenue and results. You need more.

Over the years I've always found it quite peculiar to notice a conflict between what MarTech (and SalesTech) solutions were aiming to solve, versus the way they were being sold. On the one hand these applications and platforms were being positioned as must-have solutions required to make enterprises survive in a completely changed world. A world where buyers have taken control (think about: "stop selling, start engaging", "put the customer centric", etc). But then on the other hand these very same solutions were being sold to us via old school sales techniques as if nothing had changed.

Recently I read a post from Scott -Martech Logo Collector - Brinker, stating that the old way of buying marketing technology has dramatically changed too. The waterfall approach where first requirements were defined before the solution was actually bought, is according to him, getting replaced by "agile buying". Which means "buy first", fail fast and rightsize on the fly.

Maybe to a certain extent I could agree with this analysis when we'd be looking at the way simple point solutions enter the enterprise. But even then we should not underestimate the distraction this way of adding technology is creating for IT as well as the field marketing and marketing ops teams. However, I wholeheartedly would oppose to this approach when considering platform purchase decisions. Yet, in his article we are being told to buy before we are being told to think. The fact that Scott is the VP of Platforms at Hubspot is probably the reason why.

Anyway, with the consolidation wave in our industry going on at full pace, we will start seeing also more pressure from the enterprise stack vendors trying to monetize the fruits of their M&A activity. This means we'll see more focus from them trying to cross and up-sell their solutions into their (existing) customer base and vice versa. This is somewhat understandable from their go-to-market viewpoint. But whether this is in synch with your own needs is another thing.

We've also seen (and will see) plenty of sales activity. We should expect all sorts of carpet-bombing activity in an attempt to (up & x-)selling these newly acquired business applications. The approach will be based on the stack vendor's brand and it will be powered by internal incentives but probably not on any real customer needs. Any argument will be used as a justification to push technology. Take the deliberately created confusion re: the difference between integrated data&code bases on the one hand and application integration on the other. i.e. it's not because vendor X with its existing application A after buying application B, should claim that A and B are "fully" integrated.

I have seen worse. A vendor, let's call them X, that had acquired two similar applications managed to answer every question in an RFP response positively by sometimes using application A's features (that application B was missing) and vice versa. It got away with it calling it Marketing Cloud X without really being honest about its inability to offer a real solution. All it was saying that 'they' were able to address the need..

Net net: there's always a danger in buying the (full) stack (mar)tech hype and responding to up-sell offers. Up-selling activity often leads to upsetting the blinded CMO, CIO and sales and marketing leaders. Let's learn from how buying CRM and MAP subscriptions in the past didn't solve all the needs of the marketing and sales departments either. MarTech and SalesTech will always be an indispensable component of your infrastructure but we see a growing need to help SMBs, midmarket companies and enterprises see the forrest for the trees.

We will continue to acquire more in-depth knowledge about the many different platforms out there, we will expand and team up with the next gen martech solutions that do exist because the first generation MA platform vendors simply did not solve all problems. But we will try to stay unbiased. We are commissioned by our clients, not the tech vendors, so we feel it as an obligation to stay close to your needs. More than even this is our mission.

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