Whether you have been in the workforce for three years or 30, you’ve probably had to adapt and adopt new ways of doing things. Our digital work environment provides new solutions, platforms, apps and hacks at a dizzying pace. For some it is the only reality they know, for others, myself included, it has fostered paradigm shifts in how the office works.
When I first started my career in marketing, the internet and cell phones were not yet in public use. Staying in touch with clients required letters, telephone calls and in-person meetings. Client-centric service was a priority then, as it is now, albeit the expectations were lower. If a client reached out with a non-urgent issue, you typically had a day or two before they worried about a response. Technology has narrowed that grace period to minutes, however it has also provided much more expedient means to stay in contact with your clients.
Here are a few other examples of how technology has impacted sales and marketing:
- Brand was just as important in those days, though it was typically referred to as reputation or image. Without the immediateness, pervasiveness and expansive reach of the internet and social media, your reputation was a more stable and manageable asset. Easier to manage, but much more limited in its effect — our digitally connected society has given an exponential boost to the effect of brand.
- Prospecting has always been a factor of numbers. The saying was that the “more doors you knocked on the more sales you could make.” Now, door-knocking has been replaced by emails, tweets, blogs, websites and other online content. The intention being to attract and entice prospects interest via Google search results and strategically designed websites with automated workflows.
- Referrals have always been a valuable means of growing your business, and the internet has ramped that up with many forms of online endorsement. Being “liked’ has become a major preoccupation for many companies.
As these examples illustrate, the objectives or destinations haven’t changed. As a guiding imperative the overall strategy remains consistent, although the tactics we use have transformed dramatically. Marketers today need to be adaptive and willing to adopt successful techniques.
Learning to work with a new project management platforms, client relationship management cloud apps, marketing automation solutions, etc. can be difficult for individuals and disruptive for organizations. Choosing the right solution makes for a smoother implementation and successful adoption much more likely. With the objective of successful integration and business growth, here are five things to be wary of when considering a new software solution:
Don’t let the solutions dictate what you need
Before you start searching for solutions, consider what you need. Detail the problem or issue you are trying to solve. You may revise this outline as you start looking at potential solutions, but you should have a definite understanding of what you want solved before looking for the solution.
Don’t ignore internal factors
In your basic outline of what you need, consider your processes, organizational structure and culture, staff that would be involved, etc. These will directly affect how successfully the new solution will be implemented, which directly affects your implementation cost and the effectiveness of your solution. Be careful to choose a solution that will work as harmoniously as possible with all factors.
Don’t be fooled by the newest or coolest
We all like a shiny new toy, but look beyond the glitz to see how well it fits. If you find yourself thinking “that is so cool” rather than “that is so efficient/effective” you should consider your initial needs.
There is no free lunch
That is to say, everything has a cost. If the solution doesn’t meet all of your needs, there is either an opportunity cost, or you’ll use more staff time completing the tasks, or you’ll need to invest in additional solutions. Measure all options comprehensively, including internal and external costs.
Similarly, don’t be misled by a free or basic version of a solution. Many solutions offer a discounted version, or freemium, to attract new clients. Consider what you truly need — now and in the near future. If the discounted version won’t meet your needs, then use the premium cost make your decision.
Don’t focus on the cheapest
Much like the potentially beguiling free option, cheap solutions shouldn’t be seen with blinders on either. Consider all relevant costs beyond the direct expense. Often a solution is cheap because that is truly its value. It isn’t technically robust or reliable, it doesn’t sync or work well with other software you use, it provides limited support, etc.
If you have limited needs or a very tight budget, a cheaper solution may be the right fit. Just be sure to consider overall value, not simply cost.
Growing your organization and meeting your clients’ needs requires that you keep pace with innovation, and that you find effective and efficient ways to do so. Don’t let the myriad new solutions confuse you or deter you from your objective. Technology speeding along has dramatically changed our means of getting there; as you continue to shift gears with new and improved ways to brand, prospect and refer — embrace change, cautiously.