It is time to make some predictions for 2013. Over the past couple of months I have been asked by several publications to predict what will happen in marketing and sales in 2013. I started by asking myself two questions:
- Was there anyone in the sales and/or marketing world that a year ago that accurately predicted what would happen in 2012?
- Was there a particularly accurate psychic who nailed it a year ago (simply because I thought it would be interesting to report on what this fortune teller expected in 2013 outside of sales and marketing)?
- Not so much
- Not so much
I did come across one great quote: “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” (Alan Kay)
Most of the sales and marketing predictions (from analysts, publications and consultants) were repeated (and re-tweeted) over and over and went something like this:
“2012 will finally be the year of mobile”
“2012 will be the year that outbound marketing dies”
“In 2012, 70% of the sales process will be complete before a sales rep needs to get involved…”
“Blah, blah, blah…”
On the psychic side of the equation the predictions were more interesting:
“2012 will be a year of spiritual fulfilment for most countries and people that want positive changes for their lives and futures. Many empires and ruling families that have created hardships for millions of people will fold and crumble during this historic year including Russia, China, Thailand, and North Korea. (Monte Hamilton is an ordained minister, healing practitioner, registered hypnotherapist and holds multiple degrees in business, psychology, and education).
Well, there are still a few days left in the year, but I doubt there is enough time to see Russia, China, Thailand and North Korea fold and crumble.
Here are a couple more predictions from another psychic for 2012:
“Angels will actually be seen walking among us by some with extraordinary powers of perception.”
“A baby boy for Kate Middleton and Prince William.” (Judy Hevenly is a teacher, astrologer and writer. Her clientele includes royalty, former presidents, Hollywood movie stars, and heads of state. Judy was also called in to work at the O.J. Simpson trial. She is featured in the book, The 100 Top Psychics in America.”)
She did get another one of her predictions right. Obama won. And, in fairness, the royal couple just announced they are pregnant – we’ll give a half point for that one.
Then, in the words of former Vice-President Dan Quayle: “The future will be better tomorrow.”
After much research and thought, here are my top three predictions for 2013:
1. Outbound Marketing is Undead! Bloodsucking, vampire inbound marketers would love for you to believe otherwise, but if your plan is to depend on inbound lead flow to satisfy sales needs in 2013 you will more than likely not last until 2014. New tools such as marketing automation are great – we use it. However, simply sending out emails and waiting for forms to be filled out or the telephone to ring is a recipe for disaster. One of the reasons this is the case is that not every senior executive wants to be treated like the human equivalent of a pinball – capturing your attention only after they have hit the right buttons and scored enough points. If you are not proactively in front of your market someone else is. And, a dependence on inbound marketing leads to substantially smaller deals (up to 65% smaller deals) with lower level-decision makers.
Further to this point: A member of the Corporate Executive Board wrote: “average performing reps tend to gravitate more toward inbound, marketing generated leads – because they view them as easier to close. High performing reps on the other hand actually told us that they progressively disqualify (and even deprioritize) inbound leads. Instead, high performers opt to hunt down “emerging” demand in the market place by getting out in front of a customer’s buying process and helping shape the customer’s perception of their needs…”
There is a growing demand for proactive, smart outbound – and hiring trends across the country prove that. Don’t get caught up in the hype. For more on this topic read “Why Your Sales Force Needs Fewer Leads”
1. The Big Data buffet will lead to bloated databases and inaction rather than action! I have a friend who likes to say “you should think yourself into action, not act yourself into thinking”. Big Data has the potential to “complexify” rather than simplify decision making and that could lead you to acting yourself into thinking and worse results rather than better results.
I have been a data guy for over thirty years. I once had three PhD statisticians working for me and all they did was “big data” analysis. We routinely analyzed data on 100,000,000 prospects before deciding who to send 5,000, 10,000, 500,000 or even several million catalog offers to. Our analytics capabilities then (1985 – 89) were more sophisticated than most B-to-B companies are today. So, it is not like I am naive about the potential for big data.
My concern is that companies all but ignore “little data”, yet climb on the “big data” bandwagon with reckless abandon… without necessity AND without the skills or tools to really take advantage of it. One example of a “little data” approach you can take is the power of list segmentation covered in this article: “ How Relational Segmentation Techniques Help Achieve Higher Sales at Lower Cost” This article provides a simple framework for segmenting your prospect lists in order to achieve 140% of your current results – without additional cost. Yet I find that most executives have no patience for segmentation and testing. Damn the torpedoes one says. Testing is for losers, says another. My recommendation is that you take advantage of “little data” in 2013 – and then go for the bigger stuff in 2014.
1. Dashboards more often dim than illuminate! The more dashing the data, the more I worry. A good example of this is covered in detail starting on page four of this whitepaper: “Point C: From Chaos to Kickass”
There you have it. My top three predictions for 2013… now, don’t get me started on Mayan calendar.