Tl;dr - Traditional industrial sales organizations are often startled as they begin to explore the marketing and sales technology space. There are numerous technologies they should have, some that would be nice to have, and many that are useless. But how should a manufacturer that has traditionally spent little on marketing technology build a budget? Here's a comprehensive overview.
Car, Rolodex and a Fax Line
The good (simple) old days!
And then we added mobile phone and laptop!
You remember the pay phone days when the technology budget was pretty straightforward.
Business was done face to face. Technology played a minimal role in either marketing or sales.
That's obviously changed. Largely driven by the internet originally, and recently by remote work, both sellers and buyers are changing their work habits. Asynchronous communication, overwhelming workloads, larger distributed buying teams, and technology familiarity and capability are all playing a role.
That's led to a profusion of software and technology solutions. Some are fundamentally important. Some are critical for certain scenarios. Realistically some are contrived. (Chief Martec has a great graphic1 illustrating the explosion of technology.)
But what does a company really need? And how can they realistically prepare a technology budget with a baseline of $0 so anything feels, therefore, extravagant?
Every company and situation will be different, but what follows is a framework for thinking about priorities and investments. Budgets are only approximate, and pricing depends on the number of users, number of contacts, feature sets, and number of activities (e.g. emails sent, API calls, etc.) The estimates below are based on a typical middle-market capital equipment manufacturer with a sales team of about 30, a marketing team of about 5, and a prospect/customer contact list of about 20,000.
Sales Tech & Marketing Technology Requirements
Generally, software is sold with a target market of either marketing or sales. This is a bit misleading because it is based on the vestigial bifurcation of functions. Because buyers have a single continuum of experience with your company, and often online, that distinction is increasingly meaningless.
Nevertheless, this article breaks them out in the way vendors and your team might consider them. However, many of these functions may be bundled in packages that substantially reduce the cost. You'll see HubSpot listed repeatedly through the article for instance, and the HubSpot Enterprise bundle represents a remarkable value.
Finally, negotiating software pricing often resembles a visit to an old-fashioned bazaar, particularly at month, quarter and year end.
CMS - The content management system is the publishing system for your website. It needs to be secure, offer tiers of access for different users, self patching, and fast, secure hosting. Additionally, it should tightly integrate with your CRM and marketing automation systems so that visitor activity is properly logged, and personalized experiences (e.g. by visitor's industry, customer status, buying role, etc.) can be dynamically delivered.
Your CMS should be customizable and managed by your marketing team. Be careful of systems that require outside resources to make routine site updates and changes.
Cost - ranges from open source software (e.g. WordPress) to enterprise alternatives (e.g. Sitecore.) An example of a solution that integrates the features above is HubSpot. ≈ $4,500/year (included with the Enterprise Bundle)
Marketing Automation - This software will often include some of the others outlined below. Its function is to coordinate automation and activities (e.g. form collection, lead status updates, etc.) Various marketing automation packages have native integrations with CRMs and ancillary systems like email. Be sure to understand the difference between integrations vs. a purpose build marketing automation platform AND CRM built on the same database.
Examples include Marketo, Act-On, Pardot (Salesforce), and HubSpot.
Cost - normally depends on features and number of contacts. ≈ $15-50,000/year
Live Chat & Chat Bots - Conversational marketing and sales have applicability to marketing (converting leads, moving contacts along the funnel, qualifying, self-service research), through sales (appointment setting and quick contact with web visitors), and to support/service/success.
Different platforms deliver different features (AI tools, complex routing, personalization based on visitor rules, account-based marketing features, integrated knowledge base and more.) Examples include Drift, HubSpot, Intercome, and Zendesk.
Cost - often includes a per-seat cost. For the marketing and sales team listed above the cost will be $20 - $50K/year. However, HubSpot includes a chat option that's adequate for most middle-market companies with other software listed here.
Data - Although primarily used by sales, marketing normally arranges for data sources for prospecting and enrichment.
Sources like LinkedIn Sales Navigator, LeadIQ, Uplead and others are common. Consider options for direct import to CRM, automatic data enrichment, mobile numbers and more.
Cost - $30-50,000/year.
Email - This is the tool for marketing email (e.g. newsletters, announcements) and often for delivering automated emails that are triggered via marketing automation.
Sources include MailChimp, Klaviyo, and AWeber. HubSpot marketing automation includes a robust email platform.
Cost - $25,000/year. However, HubSpot includes the tool at no additional charge with marketing automation.
SEO - These tools help to track key term performance and support research and strategy decisions for content creation. They often provide competitive tracking, periodic reporting, and website health audits.
Sources include SEMRush, Ahrefs, and Moz. HubSpot also includes some tools in their marketing automation, although most companies need additional, purpose built features.
Cost - ≈ $3,000
Social Media - Your marketing team needs to listen and broadcast via social media. Software facilitates this by consolidating platforms and accounts into a single tool, and to help automatically publish.
Tools include Sprout Social, Hootsuite and HubSpot.
Cost - ≈$6,000. However, many of the capabilities are embedded in HubSpot at no additional charge.
Project Management and Workflow - Running a marketing program involves countless details, timelines, priorities, and more. Project management and collaboration software is invaluable to help the team juggle deadlines and collaboration.
Your team may well already have Monday, Asana, Trello or other tools in-house.
Cost - ≈$2,000 (if you don't already have something)
Adobe Creative Cloud Suite - this provides a set of tools for editing and creating images, video, audio, downloadable documents, and more. Although your team will be best served by outsourcing much of the work, having the tools in-house for small, periodic changes and updates saves time and money.
Cost - ≈$1,200/year (2 users)
Marketing Tier One Total - ≈ $115,000
CRM - customer relationship management software is the core of your sales team's efficiency. Well beyond the contact database it should reinforce the sales process, opportunity qualification, pipeline management, team selling, appointment scheduling and more.
Sources include Salesforce.com, Zoho, Pipedrive, Membrain and HubSpot. An important point, as with marketing automation, is the degree of integration between systems, particularly around a common database. It's particularly important to investigate in detail because a common brand/logo like Salesforce.com may an integrated collection of apps that have been purchased as opposed to an integrated system that's built from the ground up.
It's also really important to understand what's involved in customization and implementation. Some systems require a staff specifically dedicated to managing the CRM.
Finally, the ability to create custom objects offers important capability for manufacturers.
Cost - CRM software is normally sold per user. In some cases, you can have different user tiers (e.g. marketing could have access to reporting and research without paid features that power sales users would require.) For the 30-person sales team, I assume that there are 22-23 active users (accounting for management) so the cost would be ≈$25-40,000/year.
Sales Email Tracking - your marketing email system will provide stats on opens and clicks for mass email, but salespeople will benefit from real-time alerts when specific prospects or customers open and or click specific emails.
Normal email tools like G Suite and Microsoft Exchange may be configured to request read receipts, but that creates a poor customer experience. Tracking tools that automatically log (and alert if desired) individual activity automatically can drive significant sales results.
Sources include Cirrus Insight, YesWare, HubSpot, and Boomerang.
Cost - for the team of 35 marketing and sales the cost is ≈ $12-15,000/year. However, HubSpot includes this with paid CRM seats.
Sales Acceleration / Salesforce Automation - The typical lead requires eight follow-up touches to make contact. High-performing outbound prospecting sequences may include 20 omnichannel (phone, email, social, direct mail, video) touches. Managing those from a spreadsheet or manual tickler reminders is cumbersome at best and untenable as volumes increase. Platforms will automate email template sends and call reminders.
Sources include Outreach, Salesloft and HubSpot.
Cost - ≈$15,000/year for the 22 active sales reps in this scenario. However, HubSpot includes powerful "sequence" automation in paid CRM seats
Chatbots - Conversational sales bots are necessary but included in the marketing chat line item above.
Data Sources - Most sales data is provided by marketing and included in the line item above.
Sales Content Management - These tools ensure that sales has easy access to brochures, whitepapers, data sheets, presentations - all the content they need to help close deals. This solves versioning challenges, but also incorporates various alerts and notifications so that sales knows who's opened what, how much time they've spent, what pages they've viewed, and more.
There aren't clear, consistent features in this space. Some started as sales training companies and added sales content management, others vice versa. Sources include Brainshark, Showpad, Seismic, Uberflip, Clearslide, LinkedIn "smart links", Salesforce Sales Cloud, and HubSpot.
Cost - ≈$15,000/year. However, HubSpot includes document and template management and tracking with CRM.
CPQ (configure, price, quote) - Increasingly proposals and agreements are exchanged and executed digitally. Not only does this speed execution and simplify record keeping, but it also creates opportunities for efficiency, controls to reduce errors, and sales insights.
Sources include PandaDoc, Proposify, QuoteWerks, Salesforce Sales Cloud, and HubSpot.
Cost - ≈$15,000/year. However, HubSpot includes significant capability in the CRM.
Sales Alerts - High-performing sales teams rely on real-time alerts to know when target accounts and active prospects revisit the website, open emails, review content, etc. Some of these features are included elsewhere in this list (e.g. chat, CPQ, or email tracking software may notify them of certain content interactions.) However, marketing automation is the main tool that can be configured to provide desktop, SMS and/or email alerts based on certain segments of contacts and certain types of activities.
This should be included in marketing automation. HubSpot includes these alerts.
Sales Video - Email overload, remote sales requirements and sales differentiation combine to elevate the importance of sales video. This category allows sales reps to record brief videos directly from their phone or computer (including screen share or not) and share them with contacts with view tracking notifications and analytics.
It's a great tool to establish some rapport during prospecting, provide context for detailed text emails, introduce content, and more.
The key is that they are very simple to use within the sales workflow.
Sources include Drift, Wistia Soapbox, and Vidyard. Each offers different solutions. Drift's solution integrates tightly with paid Chat plans to provide reps the opportunity to chat live or have bot engagement with video viewers, including providing meeting links to improve conversions and drive more meetings.
Cost - ≈$10-25,000
Sales Candidate Assessments - Every industrial sales team needs continuous training, and companies can't afford to subsidize underperforming or empty territories. Turnover may be lower in these companies than in tech, but continuous ongoing recruiting is necessary to identify top candidates and have a pool to draw from when a rep leaves or underperforms. The cost of a poor capital equipment sales hire is ≈$500K!
Although the market often discusses DISC and other personality and behavioral screenings, these are not true sales assessments.
Cost - We help companies implement sales hiring systems that are built on sales candidate evaluations. For the typical sales force outlined above, that's ≈$10,000 one time and $10,000/year.
Sales Tier One Total - ≈$130,000
Total Tier One Total - ≈$150,000 (Why not $115,000 + 130,000? Because HubSpot's Enterprise solution bundles numerous features. The additional requirements are for data, SEO, project management, Adobe, sales video and sales candidate assessments)
Trade Show Lead Capture - Marketing automation and salesforce automation/sales acceleration will help ensure proper lead follow-up. But show lead capture systems are expensive, limited, and require imports that slow down lead engagement.
Successful sales now is fast and efficient. So if you're spending $1,000,000/year on trade shows (as is common for this company scenario) you need to maximize that investment. Improving lead capture is an important step.
Sources include iCapture.
Cost - ≈$15,000/year
Call Tracking - Many industrial companies still rely heavily on incoming telephone engagement with prospects and customers. That creates a challenge for understanding the original source of leads and revenue, and quickly solving for caller requirements.
Call tracking software that uses dynamically generated numbers on website pages solves for this (the incoming call to a dynamically generated number can be tied to the user.)
This associates telephone leads with the original source (like inbound tracking) and can also immediately open contact records in the CRM to improve response.
Sources include CallRail and Invoca.
Cost - ≈$2,000/year
Data Sync & Hygiene - Dirty and undisciplined data will limit the effectiveness of your revenue growth efforts. But it is inevitable. So your technology plan needs to include tools to help cleanse data through specific tasks in some cases, and automation in others.
Sources include Insycle and HubSpot Ops Hub.
Cost - ≈$500-2,500/year. However, with the HubSpot enterprise bundle, this is included.
Competitive Marketing - Competitive intelligence is an important part of a comprehensive industrial marketing program. However, it's very labor-intensive and benefits from best-practice templates for tools like battlecards and win/loss analysis.
Sources include Crayon, Klue, and Kompyte.
Cost - ≈$20,000/year
PR - Media monitoring tools to help identify active journalists in your space, and distribution fees for press releases are important to help reach new prospects as a component of your content marketing.
Cision has acquired many of the companies in this space. Meltwater offers research and outreach tools and PR Web is a good solution for distribution.
Cost - ≈$8,000/year combined
Ecommerce - Is this a marketing or sales expense? Like so many here it's both. And this is really hard to estimate because it's so dependent on many variables beyond those listed above.
Increasingly customers expect digital experiences and gradually industrial companies are providing e-commerce options for replacement parts orders.
BigCommerce and Shopify are well-known sources.
Cost - ≈$5,000/year BUT there are significant costs to build the store, and then ongoing transactional fees.
Video Hosting - Why would you pay for video hosting when you can use YouTube for free and get the benefit of Google search? Good question.
If you want to gate videos, track metrics on viewing habits, create forms in videos or limit access, video hosting tools can help.
Sources include Wistia and Vidyard.
Cost - ≈$5,000
Customer Portal - A customer portal is an important tool in meeting digital native buyer expectations. Further, it improves buyer experience and may increase the efficiency of your success/support team.
This is often controlled by your CMS, but depending on the information you want to provide, it requires tight integration with your CRM and marketing automation software and databases. HubSpot's Service Hub provides an out-of-the-box portal solution.
Cost - Included in HubSpot Enterprise Bundle
Intent Data - With marketing automation and social media listening tools you'll know who's doing what across your platforms. But who's active elsewhere across the web in ways that might indicate they're in the market for what you sell? Which target accounts should you prioritize? Where are competitive knockout opportunities for certain technologies?
3rd party intent data can help with this. It's a complex space with various providers including ZoomInfo, Bombora, and our affiliate IntentData.io.
Cost - ≈$30 - 80,000/year
Website Experience - Do you know what percent of visitors actually scroll below the fold on important pages that get lots of engagement vs. those that don't? Or who is frustrated by your navigation? It's important to use heatmap and visitor behavior recording tools to understand those sort of site behaviors.
Sources include Lucky Orange, Hotjar, and Crazy Egg.
Cost - ≈$1,000/year
Marketing Tier Two Total - ≈ $110,000
Conversational AI for Coaching - Just as coaching in athletics uses technology to improve performance, sales coaching does too. Call recording and analytics can help sales teams incrementally improve performance and results.
Sources include Gong.io and Chorus.ai are well known. HubSpot also includes the capability in sales software.
Cost - ≈$30-50,000/year. However, HubSpot includes much of the capability in their Enterprise bundle.
Playbooks - Tools to help keep conversations focused, questions top of mind, and qualification criteria clear help improve sales effectiveness. Software can help.
Costello is an example that was recently purchased by SalesLoft. HubSpot includes this set of tools in their Enterprise bundle.
SMS (texting) - Subject to opt-in regulations and best practices, SMS can be a great addition to the sales toolbox, especially when it is incorporated into automated sequences.
Sources include SimpleTexting and SalesMessage.
Cost - ≈$12-15,000/year
Sales Tier Two Total - ≈ $50,000
Total Tier Two Total - ≈$90,000 (Why not $160,000 + 130,000? Because HubSpot's Enterprise solution bundles numerous features.)
Content Optimization - Your team will invest a lot of resources in SEO research and optimization. It's an art and a science - requiring strategy and tactics. AI is improving the science part with software that will analyze a page and offer specific, actionable recommendations to improve SEO performance.
SurferSEO is a strong tool for this sort of work.
Cost - ≈$1,200
ABM - Account-based marketing software will help your marketing team support a targeted account process in support of sales. ABM is complex and resource-intensive requiring special content, paid ads, careful campaigns, great 3rd party data, outbound prospecting, and more.
Some companies opt for special ABM software like Demandbase. Others use platforms like Terminus and Triblio that basically run ads for ABM targets.
HubSpot's Marketing Hub includes a number of ABM capabilities. It's not Demandbase but will be more than adequate for traditional industrial companies beginning to explore ABM.
CDP - A Customer data platform is software that sits atop CRM, marketing automation, data sources, and tools and processes. It's especially powerful for unifying data and creating dynamic segments. For instance, when three different engineers from different locations of the same multi-national all take action on your website, that's important info. But if each location or contact belongs to a different sales rep, you might miss the signal. A CDP can help.
CDPs originally focused on B2C applications. Some are beginning to enter the B2B space, but there isn't yet a clear leader.
PRM - Partner Relationship Management software is helpful for companies selling through channel partner ecosystems. Training, materials, certification, lead management and other functions are consolidated.
Sources include LogicBay, PartnerStack and Zift.
Predictive or Progressive Dialers - Every industrial manufacturer I speak with needs to prospect more than they do. That means phone, email, social, networking, direct mail, sales video and more. And the phone is the most overlooked.
When marketing provides great data sources and good, clean data, sales prospecting can be more efficient using dialing tools that limit the idle time. They're able to have more live conversations during a specific block of prospecting time.
An appropriate marketing and sales technology budget for a middle-market industrial manufacturer will startle many of you.
However, it's important to remember a couple of things.
First, buyers and expectations are different. To plan a budget based on archaic assumptions not only yields a meaningless number of leaves your business exposed.
Second, you can implement things gradually and make decisions about specific capabilities. This is intended to provide a roadmap and some guidelines for thinking.
Third, technology provides efficiencies which means that instead of hiring another $100K/year rep, each of your existing reps can do more and sell more.
Fourth, you probably noticed that HubSpot delivers considerable value. It's often misunderstood in the context of one or two key platforms. However, a single bundle subscription can solve a significant portion of your technology requirement.
As a bottom line planning number, for a team with 5 marketers and 30 salespeople (about 22 active field reps) you should probably plan on about $200K/year in total technology expense. (That's about the cost of 1.5 to 2 reps at $100K/year or about $135 loaded.)