While businesses are still reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, signs of economic recovery are slowly beginning to return. Today, organizations are anxious to recover lost revenue, but many are at risk of being lured into a false belief that pre-pandemic sales and marketing tactics will again be effective.
The pandemic ushered in a completely digital and remote selling landscape, and all signs point to it being permanent. This change will require a significant shift in the way businesses think about generating revenue, organizing internal human capital resources, and -- perhaps most importantly -- investing in technology.
Technology investment and IT strategy will play a critical role in supporting the sales organization in a post-COVID landscape. The modern CTO, CIO and IT leader needs to accept this responsibility in stride, looking beyond traditional roles and deploying strategies that support the organization’s effort to adapt to buyers’ digital-first preferences.
Here are five strategies to help you get started:
1. Foster unification between IT, sales, and marketing.
While company-wide unification falls squarely on the shoulders of the CEO, modern IT professionals should expect to support this effort by driving collaboration and bringing key players of the IT organization to the table. For IT executives, fostering unification also means ensuring that the tech stack supports real-time interdepartmental collaboration. Once these departments are aligned, businesses can shape strategy and streamline operations to support the new buyer journey.
2. Lead targeted technology investment.
According to a recent Deloitte report, many technology leaders stated that the pandemic brought an "opportunity to recalibrate technology investments quickly, and in many cases, hasten existing investment plans." The pressure to keep revenue numbers afloat became top of mind, and the responsibility for these revenue-generation tactics landed with the entire leadership team, IT included.
To ensure revenue-driving efforts are executed effectively post-COVID, your organization might need additional technology resources and new skills. IT leaders need to regularly evaluate the tech stack to ensure it meets the digital demands of today’s new workplace while supporting the broader team and driving strategy. These internal efficiencies directly impact the customer, enabling the new buying behavior of today’s landscape.
3. Establish a single common data source for the organization.
The next crucial strategy IT leaders can employ to support post-COVID revenue demands is establishing a single source of truth for the organization. A single source of data supports interdepartmental collaboration efforts and a more meaningful customer nurture strategy because everyone is looking at the same source of information.
The most important thing a company can do to adapt to the digital-first environment is to operate with a customer-first approach organized around the buyer journey. Establishing a single shared data source supports this because it equips businesses to use data for greater customer personalization and visibility into funnel touchpoints.
4. Deploy tech and other resources to support demand gen efforts.
According to McKinsey, businesses in today’s landscape need to operate simultaneously across three horizons: navigating the crisis now, planning for the recovery, and leading the next normal. Further, these businesses need to revamp their revenue strategies, beginning with re-evaluating the sales funnel.
Building sustainable revenue growth requires consistently finding new customers. That’s accomplished through the well-understood techniques of inbound marketing. If you’re in the IT organization (and not a marketer), your role is to leverage the technology and data available to reallocate resources to the top of the funnel and support demand gen efforts. These efforts are vital for recovery.
5. Set a vision for scaling and sustaining change.
The most innovative technology is rendered useless unless it is supported with a specific vision for scaling and sustaining organizational change. BCG research found that companies that focused on culture were five times more likely to achieve breakthrough performance than companies that neglected culture, even if they had the most cutting-edge technology at their disposal.
IT leaders need to lead alongside CEOs to provide clarity around business and technology goals. Craft and communicate a long-term plan for how technology innovation supports the new customer journey of today. If you do that, you’ll create a lasting impact from both a culture and revenue perspective.
Keeping IT at the Forefront
As businesses learn to navigate a post-COVID landscape and fully embrace digital sales strategies, tech leaders need to step up in a big way. CTOs, CIOs, and other IT personnel need to be involved in developing a roadmap that combines a modern tech stack with the personnel to drive the approach forward. The days of operating behind the scenes are gone. Today’s environment demands that we support sales and marketing efforts in a new way, driving revenue for the organization and doing our part to avert an impending revenue crisis.