The data center, cloud services, and mission-critical industries move fast. If you have any doubt about this, just put the hashtags #datacenter #cloudservices or #missioncritical into the search box on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter -- and attempt to digest the past 24 hours of posts.
Many companies that are in the data center industry, or that sell to the data center industry, however, are getting lulled into a false sense of complacency. Why?
In many cases, these data centers’ sales and marketing teams are using the same basic playbooks and tools that they’ve used for the past 10 or 15 years -- which can be a huge mistake given the dramatic change in buyer preferences during the past five years.
Here are eight building blocks that companies in the data center industry or that sell to the data center industry need to have in place -- yesterday -- but frequently don't. Or in other words, these are the eight signs that your sales and marketing teams are living in the past and falling behind in the competitive race for the best clients:
1. A Mobile-Friendly Website
If your website looks lousy on a smartphone and it can't pass Google's mobile-friendly test, your business is falling behind -- not only with a poor user experience but with a severe disadvantage when it comes to being found on both organic and paid searches.
2. Sitewide Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)
Years ago, bandwidth was more scarce, and web hosting was expensive. So a small company would typically only use SSL to encrypt data in transit on website pages where a form collected sensitive information. Now, the pendulum has swung -- courtesy of privacy concerns and dozens of high-profile cyber security breaches -- towards Google strongly recommending that webmasters deploy SSL sitewide on every page of your website.
Again, ignoring this advice will almost certainly put your website at a competitive disadvantage on organic and paid searches.
3. Content Management System (CMS)
Any company in the data center, cloud services, or mission-critical industry that hopes to use content marketing needs a content management system. Without it, it's nearly impossible to publish, promote, and manage the volume of content your company needs to compete in a digital-first world.
4. Marketing Automation Software
Today's buyer's journey brings businesses of all sizes new opportunities all over the world.
But for many, it also introduces competition from literally all over the world. And with the pace of everything accelerating, when someone converts on a landing page for your eBook at 2 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon during a four-day weekend, can your company really afford for that lead to wait until Wednesday morning to hear from your sales team?
With proper buyer personas and segmentation, marketing automation can educate, build trust, and accelerate leads into sales opportunities.
5. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software
Any sales and marketing team with leads, companies, deals, tasks, phone calls, emails, meetings, and customers needs a CRM system.
While sometimes a cause of pushback among old-school sales teams, CRM systems help sales reps earn bigger commission checks and companies' healthier bottom lines when designed and deployed correctly. CRM systems and marketing automation can also tremendously help with customer onboarding, customer support, and customer marketing.
6. Surveying Software
Any digitally-savvy business must regularly get a pulse from its prospects, customers, partners, and employees.
When approached correctly with the right integration, survey software can also help any company get more value from its marketing automation and CRM software investments.
7. Webinar Software
Whether you're looking to generate new leads, accelerate leads into sales opportunities, and help new customers get on board faster with your product/service, online events/webinars can educate and build trust more effectively than most other formats.
While coming in for a tour is the holy grail of conversion events for data center sales and marketing teams (only second to the new customer signing on the dotted line), webinars are a very effective way to get prospects on the same page with you before they’re ready for a tour of your facility.
8. Self-Booking Calendar Software
If your sales and marketing teams book meetings on a regular basis (if your company has quotas and goals -- they’d better be!), you know firsthand how much time can be wasted on back/forth emails trying to find a mutually convenient date/time.
Online calendar software makes that a thing of the past by allowing your leads, customers, partners, or employees access to specific time blocks on your calendar.
This yields a much more positive experience and saves both parties much time on administrative back/forth details. As an added bonus, look for calendar software that easily integrates with your calendar (ex, Google Calendar or Outlook 365) and your marketing automation software and CRM system.
The Bottom Line
While IT and facilities staff at data center providers will tell you about the dizzying pace of change, even sales and marketing teams need to be very aware of just how much their buyer’s preferences are maturing and evolving. Companies like Airbnb, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Netflix, and Uber have permanently changed people’s expectations.
Is your data center sales and marketing team still living in a world where Blockbuster Video and AOL ruled the roost? Use the checklist in this article to help your revenue-generating staff compete and win the best clients in your market.
What tools are most important to helping your sales and marketing teams stay on top of their game? Share your thoughts in the Comments box below.