As for most companies, this has been a rather interesting year for us. I won’t bore you with another version of what made the situation new and different as I am sure we all know that by now. What I will say is that at the beginning of 2020, we braced ourselves for a potential knock on the head due to an economic downturn. For a variety of reasons, including just luck, this did not come to pass. Instead, we have been able to grow during this year. We welcomed 5 new members to the team and have been able to onboard several new clients.
One reason for this was the sudden need for businesses that relied on events for finding new prospects to change tack very quickly. Generating Leads cannot stop so suddenly, so all eyes are on Marketing Ops to keep the engine running. Given that Marketing Ops teams are the people we tend to work with directly, there was and is a natural request for our help as well. Now it is important to highlight that the technical challenges our clients faced were not unknown by the teams we work with. They generally have a pretty good idea of what needs fixing or improvement. The situation suddenly made things very acute. As the old adage goes, ‘behind every technical challenge there is an organisational issue’ and now there was a lot of support in the wider organisation to make things happen. Let’s hope that stays!
So what are the concrete areas we helped our clients with? After the initial scramble around event cancellations, there was a big focus on data and reporting. There was a need to quickly get insight into where sales needed to focus on as well as where marketing should spend their efforts. Doing this type of exercise also makes other issues clear like, for example, holes in the lead routing processes. Given that we can’t afford any leads to be left behind in a situation where digital channels are the only source of new leads, plugging those holes has been a priority for many.
These activities, whilst important, are also superficial when dealt with in isolation. Many businesses have been starting to scrutinise their overall lead engine and are making much more fundamental changes. The current situation made it obvious that sales and marketing do need to be aligned, and the benefits of spending the time to do this has become much more obvious. Sales and Marketing alignment is finally not just the mantra that many preach but too few practice. Let’s hope this sticks.
By extension, Digital Selling has become a focus. That is a bit of an umbrella term that includes forms of Sales and Marketing alignment and Sales Enablement but in its best incarnation, it looks at the entire customer experience holistically and makes it the best possible. This means breaking down barriers between Digital Teams, Campaigns Teams, Marketing Operations teams and even wider Service and Delivery Teams. This is never a finished job, but I have high hopes this will produce real results in the new year. To summarise, one of the silver linings has been that a lot of the businesses we work with have been able to make genuine improvements to the foundations of their Marketing Operations setup and that will pay off.
Ahead of all the lockdowns we as a company were already making changes in the way we operate. We have put the customer much more at the heart of the day to day work. That also means our entire team has a lot more ownership of what they do, including liaising directly with stakeholders. In some ways we are a bit more of an open kitchen and whilst that can be challenging at times it has worked really well, especially when working remotely. Another one of those things that just happened to fall into place at the right time.
Of course, the team has worked very hard and also smarter. We are in a lot of ways a ‘better’ company than we were a year ago. But I do also want to acknowledge the fact we have been lucky. Lucky we have the clients that we do, lucky that we made the right changes in our team at the right time and lucky we work in the field that we do. It is important to keep that in perspective.
I am not going to try to predict what is coming in the new year for business. The economic situation will likely remain tough for many companies and that could spread to our sectors too. It could also be the overall economy improves when the situation normalises. For both scenarios, I think we have been able to contribute to putting our customers in good stead to take on whatever 2021 throws our way or even take advantage of the opportunities. And that is true for CRMT Digital as well. Happy New Year!
Written by Len van Hoogenhuijze – Product and Solutions Manager, CRMT Digital