The cloud has disrupted the market for storage. And if you even remember the once-ubiquitous floppy, is it the 3.5-inch, the older 5.25-inch, or the original 8-inch disk that once littered your desk?
Recently, I got to thinking about the top disruptive technologies in sales and marketing. Some are product specific, while others are more general technologies. Some fall into the “Doh! No kidding, Jim,” category, and others, I hope, are of the “Hmmm, interesting thought,” variety.
One caveat: You will not see e-mail on this list. While it certainly is among the top disruptive technologies in communication — replacing phone tag and faxes — I wanted to dig a little deeper. Here goes:
- Google: Search engines have completely disrupted the way buyers and sellers think and do business. But Google does so much more than just search. Think about all the Google tools that can help sales and marketing: Google Alerts, Google Trends, Google Analytics, Pay-per-Click Ads, Google+, YouTube, Google Docs, and on and on.
- Salesforce.com: More than just CRM, Salesforce.com has disrupted contact management, rolodexes, planning tools, document management, management, lead tracking, forecasting tools, collaboration tools, and so forth. Oh yeah, it’s also in the cloud.
- LinkedIn: For B2B salespeople, this is the most disruptive social network. It offers live networking, account data and information tools, communications tools, competitor analysis, recruiting and talent acquisition opportunities, newspapers, magazines, and market research. LinkedIn really is one of those cars that can drive, fly, and go underwater. I live in LinkedIn, and if you’re a sales or marketing professional, you should too.
- Marketing automation: Tools like Genius, Marketo, HubSpot, and Constant Contact could be considered disruptive or just innovative, additive tools. They allow us to become more efficient and knowledgeable. Is that disruptive or just something good made better? I’m not sure, but I included the category rather than quibble.
- PowerPoint: This is one of those “no kidding” ones. I had to add it after finding a tray of 35mm slides in my closet. Remember slides? How about overhead projectors with clear acetate sheets? I, for one, am glad to be done with those cumbersome technologies. PowerPoint rules for presentations.
- Online contracting Software: I love DocuSign and EchoSign. How much easier is closing out the sales cycle now? Anyone using an online contracting system to close out a quarter knows exactly what I mean. And it links directly to Salesforce.com, where you can save the actual contract.
- PDF files: When is the last time your company printed a large run of brochures? How much have you saved in mailing costs by attaching a PDF to an e-mail? How much easier is it to review documents created across platforms, without worrying whether your PC will open a Mac file? And with PDFs, you don’t have the paper-copies-and-delivery-package dance to meet deadlines.
- Sales enablement tools: Savo and other tools provide an integrated structure that links directly to a company’s sales process, allowing easy access to all of the support materials a sales professional needs. No more e-mails from the sales team asking, “Has anyone ever worked with XYZ?” or, “Does anyone have information on the financial services industry?”
- Blogs: The ability to post short articles online in real time has made experts, gurus, authors, and publishers out of many of us. Blogs have replaced company newsletters and created a major disruption for traditional print media. I follow ten-plus blogs every day; I never read that much in an industry magazine.
- Online meetings: Virtual meeting technology has significantly improved over the years, reducing costs and travel time associated with in-person meetings. Today, online meetings can be facilitated and run in a similar fashion as live ones, allowing the easy dissemination of content, the ability to network, and interactions with groups large and small.
These are my top ten disruptive sales technologies. Let me know if you have a different list.