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The Future Belongs to RevTech

Marketing Horizons: The Future Belongs to RevTech with Seth Marrs, Principal Analyst at Forrester

Seth Marrs, the Forrester analyst who follows sales technology, painted an exhilarating picture of the future of SalesTech, saying it will combine with MarTech into an entirely new way of going to market — along with a new organizational function called Revenue Teams. Primarily focused on the B2B ecosystem, but with consumer applications — especially for call centers — this developing technology is enabling an end-to-end customer experience driven by conversational intelligence, NLP (natural language processing), AI, and real-time data capture and analysis. In fact, Seth believes the future will be about opportunities and not leads, and this tech gives us a brand new container for our engagement experience, resulting in more powerful roles for marketing, higher revenues, and customer satisfaction overall. Sounds great. Give a listen!

Cyndi Greenglass: What is sales tech?

Seth Marrs: Sales tech is everywhere now, and I think that's largely due to the deficiencies that have come up in CRM and companies coming up with unique ways to add value to a seller. Sales tech is really about helping the seller improve efficiency, helping the seller with insights that are valuable and helping them close deals and prospects. If you think about a seller’s job, the things that add value or add insights have traditionally been very hard to understand because the value of a seller is in their interaction between the buyer and them. That's traditionally been off limits for the most part. Those conversations happen, and it was whatever the seller said happened is what happened. But with tools like Gong and Chorus and some of these other conversation intelligence tools, and with the pandemic and everyone working from home, that sped up a new form of technology and sales tech, which is capturing those interactions and using natural language processing to understand what those interactions mean. And then taking that and translating that back to the seller and actually giving them insights that maybe they didn't know.

Cyndi Greenglass: What are some of the companies that are doing this?

Seth Marrs: Gong, Chorus, SalesLoft and Outreach are companies that are in that space that focus on sales engagement. If you move over to revenue operations and intelligence there's lots of companies that are focusing on these interactions-based work and then also on supporting sellers in forecasting. Companies like Clari, Avizo and BoostUp focus on helping companies improve their forecasting. Then you have other companies like MediaFly and Gong that are working with sellers to help them on the interaction side. The real onslaught of new technology is happening at the forefront with that seller interaction. There's stuff happening behind the scenes where companies are using marketing type tech within sales and using it together. It's a fast-merging world when it comes to technology and process for sales and marketing and that's largely because buyers are saying, “I'm going to contact the seller whenever I feel I need to contact them and in whatever form I would like to contact them.” You guys have probably heard the whole thing around research that was done in the past that said 59% of interactions were done before the seller was ever engaged. That's no longer true. Now, the buyer has full control over when they engage and they'll engage whenever they want to. And they're engaging across all sorts of different avenues and in all sorts of different ways. If you don't have a unified way to aggregate those details, then it becomes very hard to add value both to sales and marketing. We're seeing a push to consolidate those together.

Ruth Stevens: Is this heavily geared toward B2B or are consumer sellers and buyers also using sales tech?

Seth Marrs: It is heavy B2B. That is where some of the biggest innovations are happening because there’s more interactions involved. I'm seeing innovation on the B2C side, but you're seeing things like call center-based technology around conversation intelligence, allowing you to do real time scripting and real time intervention. Companies like Balto and Cresta are building conversation intelligence technology that informs the seller of insights and ways to improve their chances of winning a deal. You also have companies like Marchex that is reaching into the marketing side and doing attribution, analyzing what in the phone call was attributed to making the sale.

Cyndi Greenglass: Can you share with us some examples of companies who you think are at the front end, embracing more of a revenue team model?

Seth Marrs: We did a good case study around this with Siemens, our colleague. One of the thngs that our marketing teams are doing is saying you need to eliminate leads. The leads are no longer relevant in the buying process. If you are trying to collaborate between marketing and sales, your trying to collaborate on deals, not take credit, and really work with your buyer where they are. There needs to be a space for sales and marketing to work together to understand who the buying group, which is big and complex, not single prospects. Marketing needs to know where it fits in the total market and leads don’t answer that. Often, marketing will have five leads from a company come in. Four of them will be disqualified as a duplicate and one will be passed to the seller and the seller says they need all five leads because it would enhance potential deals. There’s companies making this shift and focusing on buying groups and how to manage the entire cycle, but it is very forward looking. There’s a lot of emotion with it and it is hard to do.

Ruth Stevens: If this does happen, what does the technology look like? Do we throw out our CRM systems and replace them with new tools?

Seth Marrs: To me, the CRM doesn't suit the needs of really anything. It is a static database. There’s a lot of martech and salestech tools. Why would you have a CRM, which is a static database, as your source of truth when you can connect to AI to enrich your contacts in your accounts constantly, so they are always up to date. In a perfect world, you’re going to have that information in an ABM system to then do deeper than the account. There is still work that needs to be done to smooth it, but there’s a lot of value in it. Imagine if you had one tool that sales and marketing could work together on and go to full seller automation instead of just marketing automation. When the technology starts to merge, there’s a lot of positives. In the past, for marketing, you’d never be able to see all the interactions. Now that we are recording these interactions, we can see around 80% of those interactions. It will really help you understand your attributions and impact of the marketing on the sales deal. We are already seeing marketers go to a product like Chorus and use it to see what tag lines are resonating, how often the company is mentioned, how often the competitors are mentioned. There’s a lot of positives on both sides that can be leveraged.

Key Takeaways/Three Little Piggies

  • Forget about Sales or Marketing, the future will be "Revenue teams" that combine digital and personal engagement enabled by SalesTech.
  • CRM and static systems are outdated and no longer can meet the changing needs of the modern marketer.
  • We must serve customers across their entire buying journey, by combining technology with process and personal engagement, for a unified customer experience.

Technology Platforms mentioned in this podcast

Sales engagement platforms (Bridge tools)

Rev Ops Intelligence tools

Conversational intelligence tools

Marketing Communications Today presents Horizons, it’s forward-thinking, looking ahead, through the front windshield and beyond, into the marketing future. Join Cyndi and Ruth bi-weekly for new ideas, technologies, tools and strategies that are emerging to help marketers navigate over the marketing horizon.

Meet our guest

Seth Marrs

Seth Marrs brings more than 20 years of experience leading sales operations, service operations, and marketing organizations. He excels at leveraging data, process, and technology to drive growth in organizations of all sizes and in all industries.

Before joining Forrester, Seth spent the last five years as a consultant and senior vice president leading sales operations and marketing organizations for multiple private equity-backed companies ranging in size from $200 million to $1 billion, where he was responsible for customer acquisition, sales execution, and compensation.

Before going into private equity, Seth led sales operations for Carl Zeiss Meditec in the United States and held multiple executive sales and service roles at GE Healthcare, including leading sales operations for GE Life Sciences EMEA, building and running a global lean organization for the $3 billion life sciences division of GE Healthcare, and leading sales enablement for the US region (which represented $7 billion of GE Healthcare’s revenue).

Meet the hosts

Cyndi Greenglass

Cyndi W. Greenglass is a founding partner and president at Livingston Strategies, a data-informed, strategic consulting firm that helps clients develop, execute, and measure their customer communications with a close focus on results. Cyndi has razor-sharp strategic skills matched by impeccable on-the-ground savvy and tactical abilities. She is an Adjunct Instructor in the Data Marketing Communications online master's degree program from West Virginia University.

Greenglass has twice been named into the Top 100 Influential BTB Marketers by Crain’s BtoB Magazine and was the 2012 CADM Chicago Direct Marketer of the Year. She is a member of the Board of Advisors for BRAND United and has taught, trained and presented at over 50 conferences throughout the world.

Ruth Stevens

Ruth P. Stevens consults on customer acquisition and retention, for business-to-business clients. Ruth serves on the boards of directors of the HIMMS Media Group, and the Business Information Industry Association. She is a trustee of Princeton-In-Asia, past chair of the Business-to-Business Council of the DMA, and past president of the Direct Marketing Club of New York.

Ruth was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing by Crain’s BtoB magazine, and one of 20 Women to Watch by the Sales Lead Management Association. She serves as a mentor to fledgling companies at the ERA business accelerator in New York City.

Interested in growing your career with a master's degree in Data, Digital or Integrated Marketing Communications? Request more information today!

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