Marketing, sales and service organizations are in the midst of a fundamental shift in how they grow revenue. Technology is disrupting ways of operating. Marketing is engaging with customers at more opportune points in the buyer journey. Sales is leveraging the latest enablement tools to win more often. Service is using early warning signs to power Customer Success motions.
Industries such as CPG, retail and technology are furthest along. They are the first movers, testing, failing and adapting quickly and often. Others have been late or slow to start. No matter the industry, digital transformation is here. It’s irrefutable—a digital revenue organization is a C-suite priority and call to action.
The Digital Revenue Organization uses technology—data, operations and systems and tools—to engage with customers and enable marketing, sales and service teams.
Insights direct how marketing, sales and service engage with customers
Marketing, sales and service ways of working are guided by data and systems and tools
Systems and Tools
People are armed with technology to enable day-to-day execution
Companies must blueprint their future state and chart their roadmap. They must change or irreparably cede competitive advantage.
Start with a vision—determine how the business will use data, process and systems and tools to fundamentally change how the company engages with customers and enables marketing, sales and service teams. Prioritize change and investments and build momentum. Do not wait for data lakes to be built or systems to be integrated. Start small.
Train and condition team members to use data and technology to guide day-to-day execution. Introduce new roles. Transform demand generation or inside sales. Launch an e-commerce site or customer portal.
Where you start is less important than picking your path and gaining momentum. This whitepaper serves as a guide for those companies that seek to scope their vision, blueprint their future state, and plot their path to a modern revenue growth.
Use intent, customer relationship, enterprise, IoT, telemetry, and other data to drive marketing, sales and service motions.
Bring together cross-functional teams to ideate future ways or working. Wire together marketing, sales and service workflows. Launch e-commerce sites, eShops, and customer and partner portals. Change how jobs execute.
Systems and Tools
Inventory the tech stack. Invest in technology needed to activate the model. Avoid overwhelming the business with peripheral applications that do not deliver demonstrable return.
With the blueprint in place the company is ready to scope investments in the Systems and Tools needed to bring the model together.
The Digital Revenue Organization runs on data. A singular data lake absorbs multiple sources of information. Which in return, enables more intelligence, personalized customer engagement. IT teams and digital Centers of Excellence (COE) establish and maintain these environments. Data scientists unlock insights for Marketing, Sales and Service stakeholders.
IT teams know the technical environment. Data scientists know the information landscape. Marketing, sales and service teams know the customer, the products and business objectives. This cross functional team meets regularly to ideate. Data scientists write algorithms and AI, producing a steady stream of insights. These insights help marketing create awareness and nurture customer relationships. Leads are created and shared with Sales to pursue. And the insights support Service, ensuring they proactively engage with customers before a problem manifests.
The blueprint for the digital revenue model begins with surveying the data landscape. Once the right data is identified, IT and data science develop the technical architecture. The IT and data science teams build the lake and create the infrastructure.
There are four types of data often brought into the lake:
Digital dust, including cookie and click stream data flows from marketing automation, websites, customer portals, e-commerce, social media and others. Third party customer, contact information and web scraping data is collected. This information helps companies understand and monitor customer interests, needs and buyer journey stage. Insights mined from this data enable campaigns, programs and account or contact-based outreach. A contact’s history as told though this data reveals insights useful as sales pursues an opportunity and service delivers a differentiated customer experience.
Customer Relationship Management
Data ranging from event attendance, meetings, quotes, deal size and velocity, and service inquiries aid in predicting customer interests and how they might respond to offers. The data provides sales with insights to help them win more often. The data supports grouping of customers into service level and channel cohorts.
Data including transactional purchasing data, pricing, contract terms, renewal dates, receivables and others from core systems are loaded with predictive insights. The data is mined to predict when and what a customer is likely to purchase. It helps identify how likely customers are to renew and repurchase and guide preemptive engagement.
Telemetry and IoT
The advent of “smart” products creates a wealth of data. When leveraged appropriately, the data creates value for the customer and the company. How a customer uses solutions enables companies to proactively engage and prioritize investments. Usage data informs companies where to go—creating insights that are used to direct offers, cross-sell and upsell, and solve problems before they manifest. Advanced customer success, renewal and repurchase motions are powered by early warning signs.
IT builds the infrastructure once the data environment is surveyed. Data scientists incorporate structured and unstructured data into sandbox environments for experimentation. Their computational algorithms mine lines of data to discover potential insights. Cross-functional stakeholders review, collaborate and prioritize insights. Predictive algorithms are built and new AI is established.
Once curated, the insights are published and distributed to marketing, sales and service organizations. Sales reps receive raw lead lists in their inbox. Data is visualized via dashboards and analytical suites. CRM systems publish relevant impactful customer intelligence.
Ongoing data management and governance is clearly defined. For example, Pricing owns insightful competitor data. Supply chain owns high quality ship-to and sold-to address data. Sales operations owns activity data, performance management and quota attainment via the CRM. IT owns transaction data via the order management system. Marketing owns third party, email and click through data. The e-commerce team owns web traffic data. Accounts receivable owns credit and payment data.
There are consistent misconceptions about Digital Revenue Organizations. Some believe data is a pre-requisite. Others assume they have a digital revenue operating model because they purchased new systems and tools. Companies furthest along in their digital journey have learned that well-constructed processes or new ways of working are the lynchpin.
There are two dimensions to the operating model. The first is a cross-function team responsible for ideating. They find innovative ways to apply data, systems and tools to marketing, sales and service motions. The second is a seismic shift in how roles are executed.
Once a company has invested in an insight engine they maintain a cross-functional team—IT, Data Science, Marketing, Sales and Service stakeholders—responsible for extracting long-term value. The team is accountable for ideating and identifying innovative, yet practical, applications for the insights. This process comes to life through a structured set of weekly, monthly and quarterly interactions.
Marketing, sales and service team members translate insights into activities. A pilot program is often launched to test algorithms or “plays.” Successful plays are scaled. Plays with little return are quickly abandoned. Marketing, Sales and Service deliver feedback to help data scientists refine plays.
For those who have yet to make the investment in a data lake and data science, marketing, sales and service leaders still collaborate. They share insights, align on common objectives, and find ways to connect workflows. Projects are kicked off to connect marketing automation tools to CRM and service platforms. Prospecting applications bridge Marketing and Sales systems. Functionality is added to sales applications to enable orderly and rapid access to demos and other technical resources.
These cross-functional processes operate in perpetuity. Team members may change, but the team’s objectives lives on. The team meets weekly, monthly and quarterly to develop the next set of plays, identifying new ways to work together to deliver growth.
Insights and other applications of technology change the ways Marketing, Sales and Service functions operate. Marketing organizations have a broader and more complex mix to build awareness, take products to market, and stimulate demand. Sales pursuits are guided by data and tools that facilitate more customer facing time and improved productivity. Customers engage with Service organizations through self-service platforms, chat, video or more traditional phone and in-person means. Revenue leaders must rethink how teams execute.
Getting the most out of the move to the Digital Revenue Organization means redesigning how teams operate and connecting workflows. It involves re-scoping jobs and developing new capabilities.
Organizations have adopted contemporary practices including SEO/SEM, programmatic, social, content, email marketing, virtual events, and account-based marketing. This broader, more complicated mix is rooted in technology and process. Getting the most out of these strategies means rethinking old-ways of working. New, more agile workflows must be developed. Marketers have line of sight into the impact of their campaigns and programs. They operate more frequent planning, program and reporting cycles.
New ways of working change how traditional jobs execute. Marketing managers become digital marketing managers. New roles such as content and social media specialists are needed. Inside sales becomes digital or virtual. Overlays specialists engage with customers remotely. Demos and proof-of-concepts are done via virtual settings. The Digital Revenue Organization requires companies to rethink the mix of roles and how they operate.
Successful companies seed the organization with experienced talent and invest in training their current team members. The development of new career skills and capabilities becomes core to the employee value proposition and recruiting strategy.
Like changes seen in Marketing, digital means a fundamental shift in how companies sell. They rely less on a sellers experience, intuition and entrepreneurial spirit. Motions revolve around the system. Leaders manage and operate a codified way of operating aligned with customer preferences and buying processes and product dynamics.
Like Marketing, the Sales system is agile. If customers are not responding to messaging, if a data driven play isn’t working, if tools aren’t working as intended, the motion is abandoned. At the same time, when something is working the motion is quickly scaled across the organization.
Sellers log in daily to a portal. The platform directs their motions. They leverage data, analytics, content and other tools to compliment their experience and instinct.
Companies often make structural changes to deliver needed strategic and operational alignment. Shifting to a CRO or Revenue Operations model—combining marketing, sales and service functions—are examples. While, these structural changes deliver the needed alignment they still require processes to be reengineered and workflows connected to operationalize new ways of working. Structural changes are often mired in politics and disruption, process and workflow changes can often be made with less resistance. Don’t wait for the right time to restructure—start with transforming ways of working.
These organizations have been built to wait and see. In a digital revenue organization, Service teams leverage data and systems and tools to shift from reactive to proactive. They have new ways of engaging with customers including self-service, chat and video. They develop scalable processes to proactively intervene with customers and solve problems before they manifest.
The move to digital requires a hard look at legacy ways of working that have underscored these organizations since inception. Digital-focused companies
start with an in-depth understanding of the buyer journey and preferences.
This outside-in view guides the blueprint of a new operating model. Workflows are synchronized, jobs re-scoped, and the needed talent acquired and developed.
Companies do not buy, people do. Master data management—account level hygiene in ERP and CRM systems—is table stakes. The Digital Revenue Organization works best when marketing, sales and service teams work together to maintain and curate information about buyers they engage.
Marketing needs someone to send their emails to and recruit for virtual events. Sellers need quick access to would be buyer information to investigate common connections on a social media platform. Service needs to know who is using the solution so they can offer tips on how to get more about of the investment.
Contact management is a critical process in the Digital Revenue Organization. Accountability for maintaining data may be centralized or shared across functions. Processes are established to audit and curate the data—including automatic refreshes in partnership with third party vendors.
Connected Marketing, Sales and Service Workflows
There is natural connectivity between downstream marketing and lead generation teams. Technology facilitates connected workflows. Inbound leads go through a decision tree and data driven qualification process. Those that make it through filters are automatically fed to lead generation teams responsible for running a codified set of activities to develop and nurture each lead. Once a lead is ready to be passed it is done so through the CRM system. The lead generation rep assigns the lead and completes a formal hand-off.
The sales process starts. Quotes, proposals, access to experts, demo support and post-sales resources (customer success, installation teams and others) are requested through systems and governed by internal service level agreements.
Once a deal is closed, customer success, renewal and repurchase processes are engaged. Systems and tools trigger reminders for quarterly business reviews, automatically schedule preventative maintenance, or suggest proactive customer interventions based on observed trends.
Back-office Process Automation
Technology has a profound impact on the time it takes to execute administrative sales and service tasks. Investment in configure, price, quote (CPQ), contract management, and robotic process automation (RPA) codify processes. These applications provide governance and oversight. They increase productivity by giving sellers more customer facing time.
The Digital Revenue Organization features an often overwhelming web of technology. This stack includes applications, infrastructure and platforms, hardware and other enablement. As companies contemplate system and tool investments, they circle back to buyer journey maps and persona needs. They evaluate their future state operating model. They avoid overwhelming the organization with non-critical technology. Sponsors gain or maintain credibility with budget holders by ensuring what they procure delivers value to the business.
There are four categories of technology underpinning the digital revenue organization.
1. Infrastructure and Platform
While the Digital Revenue Organization is propelled by data, it is built on core systems such as CRM, e-commerce, and customer and partner portals. Like an ERP for broader business operations, these platforms connect marketing, sales and service workflows. They govern the model and facilitate customer and internal engagement.
The stack includes resources that make the operating model more advanced and effective. Marketing automation, content management, collaboration, white boarding, demos, scheduling and more may sit atop infrastructure and platforms or standalone.
The Digital Revenue Organization often demands more than what is built into a PC. HD cameras, microphones, headsets, green screens, virtual demo rooms, tablets, and others help the marketing, sales and service organization put their best foot forward. These tools enable a differentiated buying process and project a high quality post-sales experience.
In addition to hardware and software the digital revenue organization is supported with a host of other tools including premium social media account subscriptions, virtual backgrounds and multi-media content (video, use cases, testimonials, product overviews, etc.). These “extras” are helpful aids as marketers target audiences and execute campaigns, as a seller runs a sales process, or a service representative solves a customer’s problem.
The move to the Digital Revenue Organization often stalls not because of lack of executive sponsorship or funding but due to organizational inertia. People are inherently change resistant and digital represents a seismic shift in how many have operated their entire careers.
Those that have moved beyond the inertia invest behind open minded leaders and change agents. They seed the organization with talent that has been there and done that. They engage team members with a promise to train them to be successful in future ways of working.
As they progress down their roadmap, these organizations introduce team members to the data and tools that will propel the new operating model before transformation. They avoid overwhelming the organization with too much change and over investment in systems and tools. Finally, they fail fast and avoid letting plays that do not work shake organizational confidence in the model.
Digital as a concept is unclear. Commercial leaders know it’s a priority—but what is it, where do you start, and how much does it cost?
The Digital Revenue Model is new to many and may seem risky and daunting. Although the foundation includes data, process, and system and tools, not all building blocks need to be built at once. Many organizations successfully launch their model starting with one of the three pillars. These organizations choose to go deep and prove ROI prior to moving onto the next stage.
Additionally, some will focus on a single area. They might map buyer journeys and understand contemporary value drivers. They leverage these insights to produce a vision for the future—a modern marketing, sales and service organization.
Their initiatives may start with overhauling the Demand Generation function, or transforming their Inside Sales into Virtual or Digital Sales. They may focus on providing the sales teams with insights in a self-serve capacity and enable them with effectiveness tools. They may apply the model to a single customer segment or a low-risk geography. Through these controlled deployments the model is proven prior to scale-up.
Having a vision, a future state blueprint and a roadmap is the important first step. With these in hand, the business can get on its way to building the Digital Revenue Organization.
Have a three to five year plan. Inventory the current state and identify opportunity areas. Layout desired end-state and change roadmap. Prioritize investments. Charter a series of efforts that demonstrate the impact and justify further investment. Build momentum and buy-in among middle management and individual contributors.
Your blueprint starts with a view of the buyer journey and needs by persona. These insights facilitate the mapping of marketing, sales and service motions. Motions are then translated to channels (or routes to market) and jobs. The change roadmap is the series of initiatives, work plans and timelines the team is chartered to execute over a multi-year period.
Initiatives are bespoke to each business. They may include building a data lake, standing up an e-commerce site or partner portal, wiring together internal processes and systems, arming marketing, sales and service team members with the latest tools, launching new roles such as social media or chat specialists, training or bringing new talent into the organization, and many more.
Marketing is often where companies start the build out of the digital revenue organization. There is natural fit with contemporary motions. There is often an openness among marketers to ideate and imagine new ways of working. Additionally, it is easier to try new things without at-risk pay and quotas in the mix.
Architect a small scale data environment, demonstrate how predictive analytics deliver more and better leads to the organization. Redesign operating processes and the underlying jobs. Create connectivity between marketing automation tools, applications and CRM systems. Ensure the CRM instance supports the desired workflow.
Companies often look to low-cost office based teams to cover small and transactional customer segments. While this paradigm is greatly shifting, the current state of these organizations serve as a high-impact and low-risk testing ground for future ways of working.
Leverage insights to prescribe their day to day activities—who they engage with, what offers they lead with and how they execute tasks. Enable them with premium social media licenses, customer and buyer insights, video content, virtual demos and other enablement tools to overcome remote selling challenges. Rename these teams virtual or digital sales.
As the model is proven, scale it up-market and across geographies. Turn field teams into hybrid teams. Leverage sophisticated marketing motions to cover customers not yet ready to buy or those that respond better to self-service models.
Regardless of your industry, customers expect some kind of online experience. It may be product pages on your website. It could be the ability for a customer to do an eConfiguration helping visualize what they are buying. It might be a full service e-commerce platform with a recommendation engine.
The solution will be driven by buyer needs, industry and the company’s strategy. Scope your vision. Form cross-functional teams. Develop business requirements and scope the platform. Build it internally or partner with a systems integrator.
While the technical build is underway, detail the marketing, sales and service model that will surround the platform. Design the motions that will drive inbound activity. Detail how you will respond to inbound and utilize data created from the platform to follow-up with would be buyers. Determine how you will engage with customers while they are live in the platform. Prepare to stand up the commercial organization that will be needed to support the play.
Marketing, sales and service organizations have passed the watershed moment. The Digital Revenue Organization is here. Those resisting change will be left behind. Those adopting data and technology driven motions and new ways of working will deliver differentiated top-line growth.
The time to begin and fast-track is now. Start with a blueprint and roadmap. Overhaul your demand generation process. Transform your inside sales organization into a virtual or digital sales team. Stand-up your e-commerce play. Where you start matters less than gaining momentum.
Learn more about how the Alexander Group can partner with you to blueprint or fast-track your shift to the digital revenue organization.
Alexander Group understands your revenue growth challenges. Since 1985, we’ve served more than 3,000 companies across the globe. This experience gives us not only a highly sophisticated set of best practices to grow revenue—we also have a rich repository of unique industry data that informs all our recommendations. Aligning product, marketing, operations and finance efforts behind a successful sales organization takes insight and hard work. We help the world’s leading organizations build the right revenue vision, transform their organizations and deliver results.
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