As 2013 quickly comes to a close it’s only natural to take a look back and see what trends the year brought and how they will continue to impact business in the year ahead.  Let’s take a look at the 3 trends that had the largest impact on the sales and marketing effectiveness space, both because of their immediate impact as well as their ability to continue on into the future.

  1. Acquisitions

It almost seems like 2013 was the year of acquisitions in the sales and marketing effectiveness space.  We saw the acquisition of CPQ providers BigMachines and Cameleon by Oracle and Pros respectively; and we saw acquire marketing automation provider ExactTarget.  The acquisitions highlight the importance of offering a suite of solutions, rather than one solution that’s only a small part of an overall sales strategy.

As TechCrunch put it, when talking about the acquisitions, “This is about trying to offer an end-to-end service to automate the sales process.”  This makes sense - customers are no longer looking for small pieces to plug into their company.  They are looking for ways to optimize the entire sales process.  This trend of acquisitions falls right in line with the second big trend of 2013.

  1. Streamlined Processes 

Organizations want the ability to provide their sales teams with tools to help them sell, beginning with when leads are generated all the way through the sales cycle into how their commissions are paid.  A streamlined process is vital to their success.  The days of giving a sales rep a list of companies to call on from within a randomly drawn territory are gone.  In today’s hyper competitive landscape, sales people need to be enabled to do more.

Companies have always looked for ways to get more productivity out of their sales teams, whether it’s with a new coaching strategy, or a better way to generate quotes.  The trend in 2013, which was readily apparent at Dreamforce, is that companies are now focused on providing a full suite of sales tools to their teams, not just one-off solutions to fix a small need.  This year the focus shifted toward maximizing sales and marketing effectiveness.  Companies have been able to completely transform the way their sales teams sell to reach new heights in sales attainment.

The buzz at Dreamforce around the lead to money process was intense.  In one session we heard from Juniper Networks, Telstra Global, and YouTube talking about how they’re working on improving productivity within their own organizations through incentive compensation, automated CPQ, and mobile learning.

  1. Leveraging Big Data

There’s been a lot of buzz around big data in 2013, and that doesn’t seem to be slowing down.  It’s been said that we’ll be generating 35 zettabytes of data annually by 2020.  It makes sense when we start to think about the amount of data businesses generate.  Big data is extremely valuable, but it often seems insurmountable to get much use out of it.  The big data trend is aiming to fix that issue.  Big data is not about generating more data; it’s about finding, and leveraging, the relevant data from the existing, and ever increasing, mountain of data.  Big data analytics solutions give you the ability to understand the importance of all the data that you have and to visualize it in an easily digestible way to help make better business decisions.

According to an article by The Wall Street Journal,

“Big data often gets linked to companies that already deal in information, like Google, Facebook and Amazon.  But businesses in a slew of industries are putting it front and center in more and more parts of their operations.  They're gathering huge amounts of information, often meshing traditional measures like sales with things like comments on social-media sites and location information from mobile devices.  And they're scrutinizing it to figure out how to improve their products, cut costs and keep customers coming back.”

Being able to sort through massive amounts of data in seconds to come up with actionable insights into a company’s operations is already making a big impact in efficiencies, and will only become more impactful as the full potential of big data is harnessed.

Looking Ahead

Understanding that big data has only just begun to unleash its full potential, that companies are looking for new ways to engage with their sales teams and their customers, and the anticipation of what strategic acquisitions will be made by which forward thinking companies leave us eagerly looking forward to what 2014 will bring.

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