Last week, the Royal College of Physicians in London hosted the latest FD Surgery event, the only event series for entrepreneurial finance directors. The FD surgery was designed to address some of the topics that come up in the day-to-day life of growing businesses, and there were talks on a variety of issues including GDPR, cash flow forecasting, and managing cyber risk. One of the highlights of the day was a talk by Lee Hackett from Bluprint Global ? Where to place your bets ? the future of sales and marketing ? a guide to technology investment decisions for finance directors. A changing relationship with businesses According to Hackett, it is time to move sales and marketing processes towards technology and automation, which can help businesses make decisions at scale ? regardless of your target audience. ?There?s no B2B and B2C any more ? there?s no such thing and if you think there is you?re kidding yourself,? he said. This is because mobile phones have changed our lives ? where once businesses used to control the ways they communicated with customers, by sending them a letter, giving them a call etc., customers can now reach out to businesses at any time of the day on social media. It creates more of a consumer to business relationship. The power of data Giving up this element of control is not a negative thing, as it may sound, because ?data is probably your single biggest asset in your business right now?, according to Hackett. However, it does need proper management ? unless you are able to control your data, you?re not going to be able to provide the rich experience for your customer that they need. It may ring alarm bells for some, but for a lot of customers, the expectations for brands is become more like our expectations of Amazon ? we expect personalised recommendations. Some key stats from the presentation: ? 67% are open to trading data for better services and new offerings in exchange for their information they want personalised benefits ? 78% would be happy to use automated services for decision making greater control speed convenience and trust in tech makes for a competitive rival to human services ? 73% expect individualised experiences customised offers and relevant engagement is what?s wanted in return for all that data ? 59% were casual about the communication channels used by brands speed and ease of access trumps the medium used. Best practice In an ideal world, sales and marketing best practice of the future would mean collecting and analysing audience data, using it to understand buying cycles so that you can target your digital interactions based on behaviour. Businesses can then use data to reach out further with additional content and offers, and constantly strive to refine and learn from new data. Of course, collecting and analysing data might appear easier said than done. Businesses need to find a way to gather real-time, actionable insights, and it may well mean investing in tools to do the job. The way businesses approach sales and marketing functions is certainly changing, and technology and automation may be able to help get ahead of the curve. Where will you place your bets?
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