When introducing the Sirius Directions in Technology Model at our Summit 2013 event in May, Jonathan Block and Ross Graber emphasized the importance of B2B organizations using a phased approach to invest in sales and marketing technology.

“SiriusDecisions research shows that B2B organizations are planning to increase their spending on technology,” said Jonathan. “The problem is that many organizations purchase technologies without a clear strategy for their adoption and use.”

The Sirius Directions in Technology Model illustrates an ideal sales and marketing ecosystem, in which technology components that facilitate demand, operations, sales and reputation activities are integrated, enhancing the effectiveness of the entire system.

To achieve this level of capability, organizations must pass through three phases of maturity and develop a strong partnership between IT, sales and marketing leaders. As explained by Jonathan and Ross during their Summit presentation, the three phases of B2B technology maturity include:

Phase 1: The organization’s use of technology is emergent. Technology is purchased for tactical purposes with little thought given to data integration or overall business value. Typical characteristics of this phase, which represent opportunities for improvement, include:

  • The marketing automation platform (MAP) and sales force automation (SFA) system lack seamless bidirectional integration
  • Insights from social media monitoring and interactions are collected but not integrated into the MAP or SFA systems
  • Deal registration by channel partners occurs with little or no visibility into the sales cycle
  • If the organization has a standalone Web analytics tool, its integration with the MAP is limited

Phase 2: The organization has reached an intermediate level. Some systems are integrated, some processes have been re-engineered, and specific technology skills are sought in new recruits. As a result, the organization gains greater insights across sales and marketing and achieves faster ROI. Specific capabilities at this level of technology maturity may include:

  • Social activity is added to contact records and can trigger marketing actions
  • Insight into channel partner activity is gathered throughout the sales cycle vs. only at deal registration
  • Sales assets include more effective content, but they are not accessible from, or through, the SFA system
  • Marketing is more effective in planning, scheduling and managing resources, but strong underlying processes are lacking

Phase 3: The organization is technologically mature. Integration and process optimization across systems are planned. To maintain progress, the organization must focus on implementing additional technologies to expand its integrated technology ecosystem. Characteristics of this phase may include:

  • Integrated inbound and outbound tactics across multiple marketing channels
  • An understanding of the impact of reputation efforts on business goals
  • Increased sales productivity and effectiveness
  • Data is available for analytics, not just reporting
  • Tighter integration enables improved channel content syndication and customization, as well as better visibility into partner lead disposition

According to an instant poll of B2B leaders attending the Summit, most participants (65 percent) considered their organizations as falling into phase 2 (intermediate). The lowest number of participants (11 percent) gave their organizations a phase 3 (mature) designation, and 24 percent said their organizations are in phase 1 (emergent).

To maximize the likelihood of technology success, advised Jonathan, “build a roadmap for an integrated technology stack, along with the required skill sets and processes.”