I’ve just been to two fascinating events that fed a theory currently rotating in my head about marketing automation software – the question asked in the blog title. Sure, I make a living off the fact that marketing professionals need help selecting vendor partners to automate various business processes. But I have found myself asking some whether they are really ready for that step at all: for various reasons.
Event #1 was held in Munich by Nintex, the business process automation (BPM) vendor. Last November, my research on Marketing Lead Management had exposed that many marketers automate that process not with a branded marketing automation software but through a BPM project – both bpm’online and Pegasystems appeared in the top ten rated by 1500 business professionals globally. So, I’m keeping my eyes out for other BPM vendors and appreciated Nintex’s invitation to their 2019 customer event.
Nintex has certainly grown up since their early success as a utility/tool that made Microsoft Sharepoint so much easier to manage and use for business operations staff. They now have over 8000 clients and offer a fully-fledged BPM suite (including the Robotic functions which form the new secret sauce for BPM projects) as a cloud solution. I networked with many experienced ops developers who’ve been loyal to Nintex for years and were now excited to see how this relationship can continue. Nintex CEO, Eric Johnson, pointed out that three quarters of enterprise business processes in organizations are still NOT automated. While the spread of packaged business applications continues to reduce this number, many mid-sized companies and enterprise organizations prefer to eshew that option and instead task their operations departments (or a services partner) to set up the required automation through a low-code, drag and drop, scalable workflow automation system that better fits their needs. Nintex showed some examples of these projects in marketing at the event. And even Workfront are now promoting their system as a solution for Marketing Ops.
The other event was last week in London – I was invited to present at the GetStacked conference by my old friends at B2B Marketing. They scheduled me in the “Getting Started” track and briefed me to “keep it simple”. And I did meet several Marketing Directors who were experienced in marketing but new to the concept of automation technology – and were not that sure about it, in various ways. I congratulate B2B Marketing for recognizing this need. Indeed, I did present the slide you see below with the comment “You may not even need a marketing automation application”.
Justin Hall, of the
renomatedagency Protocol (who are certified on several MA solutions), also had a slide saying: “DO YOU NEED MA AT ALL? Is it just modern-marketing hype and bullshit?“. Then he showed how he had set up their own marketing automation system for less than 500 GBP.
On that note, the GetStacked conference ended with a keynote that was emotional and dramatic in its major point that marketing automation vendors promise too much, deliver too little and show little sympathy for the true challenges that marketing executives have in their jobs. Maureen Blandford, clearly as exasperated as she is experienced, said that she is tired of their “shame-marketing” (referring to the typical tone that much of the vendors’ marketing content likes to adopt). She also stated (wrote it on slides even) that:
- “Foundational Tech doesn’t work as it states on the tin.”
- “Proliferation of Band-Aid Tech to make up for the gaps in the foundational but causes integration and reporting gaps.”
- “Worse than budget, ever bit of tech requires
capacityto learn it, onboard it, use it. And troubleshoot the downstream issues x every piece of tech in your stack.”
Her 30-minute rant was met with heavy applause by the GetStacked audience of around 400 B2B marketers – looks like the vendors need to create more empathy in their marketing (reminds me of my post on digital marketers being cobbler’s children).
Oh, and my theory was fed once more only yesterday when a vendor of Web Experience Management software (my next research report in April) briefed me on how one of its clients had used the software to create a Partner Relationship Management portal as well as a quite capable Sales Engagement Management solution.
Always keeping you informed! Peter
In 2019, I still get people asking me “Didn’t you write that Death of the B2B Salesman report?” Actually, I didn’t, I was just one of the editors. The author of that Forrester Research report was my old colleague Andy Hoar, who was covering eCommerce. I just leveraged his research in a keynote speech to provoke my audience of 500+ sales enablement professionals at the conference I was moderating. That was in 2015 and, well, it certainly succeeded! Back then, my colleagues and I had established the need for the discipline of sales enablement within B2B organizations and the conference was used to discuss the role, responsibilities and technologies. For my latest thinking on the role of B2B sellers, feel free to listen to this webinar, which was broadcast just last Fall.
It’s been great fun to revisit this topic recently and catch up with all the leading software vendors as well as many business practitioners. But I’ve moved the goalposts a little in my new research report because I don’t think that sales people (definitely not their management) will want to have that many different systems running on their devices.
Marketers want a system to distribute content to sellers at the same time as Sales-Ops is focused on on-demand coaching plus supporting the day-to-day operational processes that sellers must endure. Ultimately, these solutions will be combined into one robust set of sophisticated tools, on the seller’s device of choice, in order to engage productively with their knowledgeable prospects and buyers. I therefore see Sales Engagement Management as one of the fastest growing Martech markets and 48% of 1500 business executives we interviewed will be investing for the first time in this area of software automation near term.
Now, because the market is in its early-adopter phase and many of the users tended to buy from the first vendor that called, the survey may not accurately reflect the current offerings of all vendors. Some of the early leaders, with somewhat-satisfied customers, are no longer the innovators; while newer vendors, but with smaller reputations, are encroaching rapidly.
Indeed, the one thing I noticed in my briefings, and this is confirmed in the scores allocated by the 1500 practitioners we surveyed, is that it’s difficult to separate vendors from each other at first glance. I had to dig very deeply at each briefing to find out exactly which customer types were being targeted, and with which value proposition. This is typical of a market in rapid growth, where the RFP process is only just starting to be applied, and where a high close-rate means that marketing concepts like thought leadership or value-based story telling have not yet taken hold.
Anyway, the report is now published and below is a table which lists the highlight statements for each of the vendor scorecards I wrote for the vendors with the 10 best aggregate scores.
Always keeping you informed! Peter