How can you effectively prioritise digital transformation initiatives for marketing and sales?

by Abhik Sengupta

In my previous post, 6 Key Steps for an Effective Marketing and Sales Transformation Program, I outlined how you can effectively transform marketing and sales to meet the needs and expectations of the new, digitally-empowered B2B buyer. This post focuses on steps one and two, with the key outcome of identifying the ‘vital few’ initiatives that will help you genuinely ‘move the needle’ within your digital transformation.

There’s typically no shortage of opportunities for transformation, so the key question is how to identify and prioritise them. You need to ask:

  1. Which opportunities will make the most significant impact on revenue and customer outcomes (as opposed to incremental opportunities)?
  2. What are the upstream or downstream interdependencies of key opportunities that need resolution before benefits can flow to the top and bottom line?
  3. How many opportunities can we handle as an organisation alongside existing business-as-usual pressures?

Performance Improvement CycleWhat should we focus on? 

To resolve the first question, you need to use a data-driven approach and be able to link potential opportunities to net revenue impact. Ideally there will also be opportunities for quick wins, which are critical to gain early traction in any transformation program.

For the second question, you always need to look holistically across the key areas of strategy, operating model, processes and technology to put forward an integrated set of opportunities.

The third question is particularly relevant, as the temptation for leadership teams is to take on too many initiatives in the belief that they have to drive as hard as they can. However, the opposite is in fact true; for maximum commercial outcomes, you need to limit the number of initiatives to between three and five and focus leadership on ensuring these are delivered all the way through to benefits-realisation.

What’s the next step after prioritisation?

Ensuring alignment and buy-in across the key leadership group is critical to get your initiatives off the ground, but it’s a potentially difficult task. Silo mentalities, individual agendas and a lack of leadership desire to support and be accountable for change may pose some resistance.

Based on our experience, there are two primary drivers you can focus on to help ensure alignment:

  1. Using facts and data to cut through and build a genuine case for change
  2. Creating an environment where leaders can robustly debate and put it all on the table, knowing that by the end of the session, the leadership team will need to align behind a set of ‘vital few’ initiatives.

Prioritise the most impactful initiatives

In an environment where leaders are under pressure to drive change whilst still meeting business-as-usual expectations, many face the difficult challenge of knowing how to prioritise their transformation initiatives. To effectively prioritise your ‘vital few’ initiatives, remember to look for those that will have the most significant impact on revenue and customer outcomes, and are the most achievable given your existing business-as-usual requirements.

Adapting to the Digitally Empowered B2B Buyer
Adapting to the Digitally Empowered B2B Buyer

Digital has changed fundamentally how B2B customers buy, bringing both opportunity and unprecedented complexity for marketing and sales organisations.