In this, the age of the customer, the value of simplifying the customer’s journey seems abundantly clear. But what is sometimes left in its shadow – especially as B2B marketers work to better align sales and marketing efforts – is how to simplify the seller’s journey.
For the new report, “Simplifying the Seller’s Journey,” I spoke with sales enablement practitioners at various companies, with from ten to thousands of sellers, to investigate how they are simplifying the seller journey – including using various sales enablement automation solutions.
Their experiences point to some key points to consider when planning on how to implement seller-focused projects for content management, training, engagement tracking and more:
Know your sellers: The more you understand a day in their life and where you can remove obstacles the better.
Understand how sellers – not just prospects – engage with content: This will help not only marketers to better target content, but sales managers will be able to better coaching their teams.
Improved efficiency opens the door to effectiveness: B2B marketers can then measure how effective content and related sales actions can produce faster and larger sales.
That’s just the beginning – implementing solutions that are flexible and transparent so that they easily integrate with e-mail and your CRM helps ensure rapid adoption as well as rapid response to changes in your environment.
A couple of weeks ago, I was in Disney World for what's recently become an annual trip. I've always been a fan-- I spent most of my childhood in South Florida which means I was either going to love everything Disney or develop a deep aversion to it-- which makes it as nostalgic a vacation choice as it is a "magical" one.
If you're a Forrester client, you've seen Disney mentioned in research and speeches many times-- and for good reason. They're frequently on the forefront of innovation across the company, its products and brand extensions, all of which contributes to making it one of the country's most admired companies. As a consumer, these annual vacations give me a tangible glimpse into both the constant iterations of their digital commitment and the consistency with which they embrace and apply their brand promise. On the other hand, the experience also reveals just how difficult it can be maintain such a high standard once a brand has established it.
Here's what stood out this trip:
Disney continues to demonstrate its brand promise-- "magical" experiences abound
Digital disruption has hit retail financial services in Asia Pacific (AP). In 2014, fintech investments in AP totaled US$880 million and skyrocketed to a staggering US$4.5 billion last year. Just as payments innovation has been a darling of venture capital investors in the US, the picture is not so different in AP as payments took the largest share of fintech investment deals at 40%. This is followed by lending at 25%. However, the next frontier of disruption doesn't lie in payments and lending. FF16, AP's first fintech competition, featured an array of fintech finalists offering a wide array of capabilities that signal what is to come in digital disruption in financial services.
We observe that the next frontier of digital disruption for the financial services sector will take place in investment, security and authentication as:
Data access, predictive analytics, and machine learning drive investment innovation. Exploding volumes of data are driving new, disruptive products and services in retail financial services. While predictive analytics isn't new, it has now entered the mass market, becoming more ubiquitous to retial investors. Smaller, nimbler players such as 8 Securities are now using algorithms to help customers derive insights from data, making predictive analytics more affordable and accessible. There are also B2B fintech companies such as BondIT and ShereIT that help financial advisors and brokers maximize their clients' portfolios.
Most enterprises aren't fully exploiting real-time streaming data that flows from IoT devices and mobile, web, and enterprise apps. Streaming analytics is essential for real-time insights and bringing real-time context to apps. Don't dismiss streaming analytics as a form of "traditional analytics" use for postmortem analysis. Far from it — streaming analytics analyzes data right now, when it can be analyzed and put to good use to make applications of all kinds (including IoT) contextual and smarter. Forrester defines streaming analytics as:
Software that can filter, aggregate, enrich, and analyze a high throughput of data from multiple, disparate live data sources and in any data format to identify simple and complex patterns to provide applications with context to detect opportune situations, automate immediate actions, and dynamically adapt.
Forrester Wave™: Big Data Streaming Analytics, Q1 2016
To help enterprises understand what commercial and open source options are available, Rowan Curran and I evaluated 15 streaming analytics vendors using Forrester's Wave methodology. Forrester clients can read the full report to understand the market category and see the detailed criteria, scores, and ranking of the vendors. Here is a summary of the 15 vendors solutions we evaluated listed in alphabetical order:
Clients tell us they are resistant to SaaS because of SaaS vendors’ unwillingness to offer unlimited liability. Sound familiar? It’s time to stop holding SaaS vendors to a higher standard than the alternative. Consider this: In-house systems do not offer unlimited liability. Very few non-SaaS vendors offer unlimited liability.
Say what? You did get unlimited liability? If your vendor does offer unlimited liability, beware. Small vendors are all too happy to sign up for things in the contracts. But, it’s hard to get them to pay up in the event of a serious incident. More likely, you’ll end up spending a lot of time in court and find there’s no money for them to pay out. Be cautious when you see this because it rarely will do you much good and it may be a sign that the vendor is taking on deals that are unsustainable in other ways, too – which makes them a vendor viability concern.
What should you do? Instead of honing in on the legal language of liability, ask for some reasonable yet meaningful liability (such as 2 years’ worth of fees) and focus the rest of your energy on due diligence and pushing for transparency. Check out the vendor’s processes, policies, and third-party certifications. Approach this more as a risk assessment than a contract negotiation, working closely with your security and risk team (or partners). Also, look for signs of transparency. Leading SaaS vendors put out a lot of information about security, performance, and other key metrics. They foster a culture of openness and transparency.
Finally, keep in mind that a SaaS vendor will die off if they have a poor track record. That pressure generally keeps them more focused on delivering great service than a legal contract does.
This tends to be a contentious topic, and I’d love to hear perspectives and experiences.
BuzzFeed's supposed to be the media company that holds the answer to the media business's future in a post-banner world. While the media world is dying, BuzzFeed's been hiring, growing to new markets, winning new investment on high valuations and projecting hockey stick sales growth.
But worrying signals that BuzzFeed was struggling were confirmed in an article by Financial Times, which cited a miss on 2015's revenue target and a halving of 2016's target. To this, BuzzFeed's chairman said "There's nothing cratering in the industry. It's better than ever." Meanwhile, he offered no evidence to the contrary, reminding this analyst of:
Counter to Lerer's assurances and in line with FT's findings, there are some pretty good reasons BuzzFeed may be missing its numbers. I'll present them in true BuzzFeed listicle style (all gifs credited to giphy.com). Here goes:
1) BuzzFeed's tried to position itself and its expected revenue as a software play, but it's just....not.
The challenges of how to manage, ingest, store, analyze, and act upon data in the IoT are beginning to bear down on enterprises. The honeymoon talk of ‘billions and billions of devices’ is over and it’s time to get down to the dirt of how to generate value from all these connected devices. Streaming analytics platforms, already architected to handle IoT data as it streams into the data center, are being extended to deploy out to gateway devices (such as wireless access points) and even out to edge devices (such as manufacturing equipment) to extend the intelligence out to where data is generated and actions occur.
Forrester clients can read the full details of our analysis here and start the process of turning slow processes and weekly analytical batches into the immediate insights needed to support today’s dynamic business environment.
After a conversation with my colleague Lori Wizdo the other day about buyer journey mapping, she followed up by sharing the following cartoon – which I thought was perfect:
Perfect because it captured both our perspectives on the topic: Lori’s that buyer journeys are by their very nature hypothetical; and mine that you can never anticipate every buyer’s possible path to purchase.
This is not to say that buyer journey mapping is a futile exercise – or that the way to deal with its limitations is to ensure that your customers stay on the paths you’ve laid out for them, as appealing (and humorously absurd) as that reaction may be for all marketers.
As Lori pointed out in a recent blog post, you need to understand your buyer’s typical path to purchase to build an effective omnichannel marketing strategy that successfully engages with buyers at the right time with the right content through the right channel.
But be realistic in your goals and recognize that you will never be able to anticipate every possible buyer journey. When large companies with a wide range of solutions are documenting dozens, if not hundreds, of discrete paths to purchase, it’s too easy to get lost in the process and proceed well past the point of diminishing returns.
Facebook held its annual developer conference in San Francisco this week. Analysts at Forrester collectively fielded a lot of questions from the media, but most of them focused on bots and the Messenger platform. Here are my top takeaways from the event:
It's still early days for developer tools: Facebook approached F8 with a humble, honest tone and message about the state of its applications, platforms and tools for developers. Facebook didn't over promise. Every executive on the main stage to the breakouts in the "Hacker X" and "Hacker Y" pavilions offered an honest portrayal of where Facebook is today. Where is it? Facebook holds a very strong position in terms of total minutes of use and monthly active users across its various apps and platforms (e.g., Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, Oculus, etc.), but they are just beginning to offer tools to developers. Developers of mobile apps want to borrow mobile moments on Facebook's apps/platforms because they don't own enough mobile moments themselves. Facebook is just in the earliest of stages of giving tools to these developers to help them borrow mobile moments effectively.
A regular inquiry request we get from clients is “Which approach should we use to build our mobile apps?” There are a lot of arguments made for either side of the web vs. native approaches and some compelling arguments as well for using cross-platform tools to deliver apps. Because it’s such a common discussion, we crafted a report that addresses this topic quite well in Native, Web, and Cross-platform Mobile Apps All Have Their Place.
Ultimately, from the report, “it’s not a question of either/or; it’s which approach best fits the app in question.” The app’s specific features and capabilities drive one aspect of the approach you’ll select; any flowchart you’ve seen on this topic deals with that directly. However, you’ll also have to consider other organizational and technical aspects as well. So, if you’re looking for an absolute answer to the question posed, it’s: “It depends!”
So, what about cross-platform tools? Cross platform tools muddy this conversation a bit as platforms generally deliver native apps or web apps and many can deliver both. The selection of a cross-platform tool is driven by the same questions you’d ask about a native or web app: what are you trying to accomplish with the app coupled with specific questions about what capabilities and benefits the platform provides in key areas you’ll be exercising.