What an interesting time we live in. Fresh off a global pandemic, we are now faced with a looming threat of recession and a healthy dose of some very real inflation. Both Forrester and Gartner predict growing spend in technology budgets through 2023, but many marketers are being asked to shift spending and consolidate their martech stacks.
Why is that? After all, technology for sales and marketing allowed many organizations to adapt and thrive mid-pandemic. The shift to digital gave organizations a cost-effective and reliable way to connect with prospects and customers, generate pipeline and close deals.
Often this is a common reaction driven by IT or finance after a period of growth and expansion of the tech stack to streamline or “rationalize” it.
Fair enough. But what’s a marketer to do when they’re asked to cut valuable tools?
1. Inventory and Digital Overlap
It’s always a good idea to do an annual audit of your martech stack.
But, short of that, you should keep an up-to-date inventory of all the tools and solutions used in your organization. Often, marketers are shocked to see how bloated their tech stacks have become after just a couple of years.
It’s also a good idea to have a clear understanding of how much/how well the technology is being used and if you have multiple solutions capable of doing the same things.
For example, consider how many different content and asset repositories or collaboration tools your team uses today.
This brings me to the aspect of digital overlap. If we look at the example of asset management systems — they all store and tag content and assets and allow permissions and collaboration — do you really need all of them? This duplication of functionality in technology is called digital overlap.
Look for digital overlap within the tech stack. Evaluate the use cases, contract terms, costs and use of technologies to determine if you have an opportunity to consolidate.
Ultimately, only your organization can make that call. In some cases, you can consolidate and limit the damage to transferring assets and some potentially disgruntled employees who prefer one platform over another.
In other cases, a legitimate business need, customer need, or partnership or integration agreement might justify keeping multiple solutions.
2. Beware of Copycats
Be aware of “copycat” solutions when consolidating or replacing technologies. Many software vendors talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.
In my time as both an analyst and a practitioner, I saw dozens of solutions that technically checked the box for a specific feature or function, only to hear from customers (or experience firsthand) about the severe limitations of the solution.
So how can you avoid getting duped by a smooth-talking tech vendor promising to help you save money or consolidate your tech stack? Sometimes, a free trial might show you all you need to know.
In more complex cases, those involving multiple business processes and integrations into your existing infrastructure, you might have to have a good old-fashioned compare and contrast.
Tell your incumbent vendor and let them know you’re situation and other vendors under consideration. For new potential vendors, outline exactly what you are looking to have done and test if they truly have the competency you need.
This is also a good way to help influence vendor roadmaps – if either your current or considered vendor isn’t meeting all your business needs.
3. Show (Me) The ROI
Technology shouldn’t just make your life — or job — easier; it should enhance your organization’s ability to deliver its products and services. If it also helps you attract and retain customers – even better.
ROI isn’t always easy to calculate. It takes time, measurement and effort. This is where another differentiating factor between vendors comes into play.
Ask yourself these questions:
- How is your vendor setting you up for success?
- Do they provide ROI calculators?
- Or services to help you measure effectiveness after implementation?
- Are the customers with real results sharing how they achieved those?
- And is your vendor incorporating that into their selling process and onboarding?
These questions will help focus your thinking on the tool you’re using and understand if it’s measurably providing value.
Just remember: ROI can be shown in many ways. It isn’t always about revenue or new deals won — although those are my favorite — it could be time savings (which can easily be translated into a dollar amount), customer retention, new products and services delivered/delivered faster to market.
Many organizations are feeling a bit of a pinch these days in one way or the other. It could be by way of doing more with less, moving the budget within the organization or a/directive by IT or finance to consolidate.
To keep the technology you need, take stock of what you have, understand the pros and cons of alternatives and be ready to prove how your technology benefits your organization.
ON24 customers have achieved amazing results with our platform. To understand more about those results and how they achieved them check out our customer stories.