With this article I would like to raise a higher awareness around modern sales and digital marketing technologies. It is also my ambition to inspire around how to accelerate shared customer insight & customer driven innovation using modern sales technology and how to deploy it.

In 2020 the world did 5-year leap in digitalization habits in less than 2 months. E-business grew with high numbers and working habits changed overnight. We are living in an hyperconnected world where brand awareness and the ability and creativity when engaging with customers in new ways is key to success.

At the same time many companies continue to drive their product development and communication strategies as before with limited natural customer interaction and limited understanding of what modern sales and marketing technology is. Being able to talk directly to customers if often considered complicated. Many seem to think that B2B customer dialogue is very different to B2C dialogue when it is not. Especially not in the hyperconnected world. All our B2C consumer habits have heavily influenced expectations also in the B2B context. With this article I would like to inspire igniting broader dialogues within your company in relation to how you would like to interact with your customers.’

Most companies consider their Customer Relationship Management, (CRM), system as their main sales tool technology. It is often used as the repository of customer data and sales planning. It is also most often the way sales figures are reported to management and market.

What is Sales Technology?

Alongside with CRM, (Customer Relationship Management) systems we today have a long list of sales &digital marketing and communication tools at hand.

• Webpages, Landing pages, Whitepapers, Articles, Apps.

• LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and &Social Media tools

• The digital duopoly of Google& Facebook.

o In 2019, this duopoly collected more than 60% of all US digital ad spend (eMarketer, 2019). Google’s strength in paid search and Facebook’s strength in precision-targeted display advertising (Stafford &Pilloli, 2018) *.

o But of course, possibilities created by Amazon, Microsoft & Apple all offering AI related algorithms and advertising opportunities supporting interpretation of large volumes of data.

• Databases of influencers covering different target audiences. A highly growing marketing area predicted to be THE most important source for sales and marketing in the future. Here we do not only talk about volumes of followers, but we also look at what influencers builds trust within a certain segment. Few niched loyal followers might matter more than volume.

• Virtual conference & webinar solutions. Virtual and, (physical), events when possible. The most important area for customer dialogues during the pandemic.

• Survey tools covering the opportunity to buy online answers in almost no time from different user or interest groups within different geographical areas.

•  At Autoliv we could for ex. within 2 weeks do a global study of attitudes towards driving and safe driving skills within weeks in Sweden, India, US, and France.

How to utilize Sales Technology to increase customer driven innovation?

1. Storytelling:The key to success is about aligning on the storytelling of why the company exists and why it would be wise to spend your money here.

2. Content Creation:After this comes the essence of building relevant and interesting content to be able to build a dialogue with prospects and leads being in a buying process.

3. Getting out there; experiment with fairs, seminars, webinars, whitepapers, landing pages and articles. Offering easy ways to request information or signing up for newsletters.

• Experiment with the list of marketing tools to see what works for you. Can you find an influencer that could support with reaching out to your specific audience? Failing equally important to understand what works and what does not work.

4. Finding relevant prospect; Giving consent to store data is the same as saying; yes, I am interested in your content and/or story. I would be curious to understand more.Today we want to own the buying process ourselves.That is also why it is so important to create a lot of interesting content where the entire company needs to contribute. Outsourcing content creation to an external agency will make you loose a lot of valuable experience and know how needed to be and stay relevant to your customers.

5. Building dialogue; It is in this phase that I truly believe that product and solution development departments and innovation teams in general should be involved. Be open in experimenting with what is on your mind in relation to customer driven innovation. Find groups relevant to have an interactive dialogue with. Just trust that they will feel honored being invited to the development cycle.

A lot of capabilities are lost due to that most organizations are still working in silos related to marketing, sales, communication, innovation, and IT. Most decision processes online take place long before requesting a quote or solution. The younger the workforce the stronger the likelihood preferring an online based decision and buying journey. Contacting a physical salesperson are from many aspects considered both old fashioned and to some extent even intruding. Above working process will not only serve product development with customer dialogues – it will also load the traditional CRM system with new prospects. This will automatically also transform the CRM platform from a “feed the dragon tool” to a “want to go to place”.

Most probably also leading to increased sales, more qualified sales tunnels, and more happy customers, (having a larger influence in the innovation process).

This article being an essence of inspiration from my ongoing work as Global Director of Digital Sales at Autoliv & finalized studies on Digital Marketing Disruption at Oxford 2021