The quote below has been used frequently and originates from the Internet pioneer Marc Andreesen, who was referring to the ongoing shift from a hardware-based to a software- based economy.1 Examples of how software companies are taking over the market from traditional hardware companies are infinite. The world’s largest bookstore, Amazon, has no books on its shelves. The world’s largest media company, Google, has no newspapers. The world’s largest music store, Spotify, has no discs and the world’s largest taxi company, Uber has no taxi fleet. Software is eating up and will soon take over every traditional form of business.
Software is eating the world. | Marc Andreesen, Internet pioneer
Marketing and sales are no exception. Here, the selection of digital tools, often called martech have exploded. CRM systems are no longer the only software that can help sales reps and marketing agents. The selection of software intended for use in marketing and sales increased from a few 100 to nearly 7,000 applications between 2010 and 2018: an increase of over 3,000 percent.2 The international analysis company IDC estimates that the global martech market is growing by 12 percent per year and will be worth close to 30 billion US dollars in 2018.
Several factors are driving the development of marketing and sales applications. For starters, there is of course the changing behavior that we describe in many other chapters of this book. When customer dialogues and customer relations move from lunches and meetings to digital channels, software becomes a prerequisite for being able to interact with customers at all. When no one wants to talk on the phone or meet anymore for open-ended meetings or a lunch, sales reps that are not armed with applications like Hubspot, LinkedIn Sales Navigator or Sidekick are limited. The software also creates new exciting opportunities for following a customer and adapting behavior and offers that didn’t exist in the analog world.
It has also become easier for new companies to develop software tools without enormous investments in either technological infrastructure or recruiting and training a large personnel force. Small startups quickly launch global services, and Sweden is no exception. Here, Swedish firms such as Getaccept, Goava and Membrain have contributed in recent years to the fast-growing selection of applications targeting marketing and sales functions.
An additional driving factor is that it has become much easier for those who work with marketing and sales to adopt and begin to use software. Nearly four billion people, or about half of the world’s population, used the Internet in 2017: a doubling compared to 2010. Most of these people have access to the Internet in their smartphones, which means that the apps literally lie in their hands, and it is easy to get started. Previously, using software involved painful and long implementation projects that engaged entire companies. Now it can be as easy as one single sales rep going in and registering themselves as a user. Seconds later she can be using a trial version of an application that directly supports and increases her effectiveness.
The applications don’t have to be comprehensive anymore either. They can manage various delineated steps and challenges in the revenue-generation process. Prospecting can be supported by a sales-intelligence application such as Vainu. Leads can be generated with a marketing-automation system like Marketo or Hubspot. If you are working with a particularly important customer, you can use an ABM system like Vendemore or Jabmo to correctly target your advertising. Perhaps you will present your offer using a web-based meeting solution like Join.Me or ZOOM. Then you close the deal by signing your bid digitally using Oneflow or Scrive. That’s a lot of apps, but it is more common with open APIs (interfaces between applications), which enable applications to speak to each other and share customer information.
Nevertheless, it will be a challenge to navigate amongst all the tools and their potential. Therefore, sales and marketing managers will need to acquire new sources of knowledge and support for their own decision making. The number of actors that are offering apps, software and technological products and services that aim to make sales and marketing functions more effective are very extensive. For a sales or marketing manager it is essentially impossible to stay up to date on the selection. But even here interesting solutions have been developed. G2 Crowd and Capterra are two platform services that collect information on thousands of applications and allow their users to review and rate software. Here it is possible to get recommendations regarding what is the most appropriate solution for a company of a given size, in a given industry, and with a given budget. And one can also see what other users think about the system.
It is important to realize that software is not just exciting news, but will soon be an ordinary part of marketing and sales work. This follows a general trend, where influence is moving out of the central IT department and into functions like sales and marketing. Having the ability to understand how and in which ways different types of applications can support your business is becoming a necessity. Gartner shows, for example, in their annual evaluation that marketing managers are gaining increasing influence and investment mandates related to IT.3 Marketing and sales managers are becoming to much larger degrees IT buyers and strategists.
1 Andreesen, M. (2011). Why Software Is Eating The World. Wall Street Journal. Available: https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424053111903480904576512250915629460
2 Brinker, S. (2018, 19 February). A Decade of Martech: The top 10 ideas from 10 years of chiefmartec.com. [blog post]. Downloaded 2018-10-22 from:
3 Pemberton, C. (2017, 10 January). 2016-2017 Gartner CMO Spend Survey Reveals the CMO’s Growing Mandate. [blog post]. Downloaded 2018-10-22 from https://www.gartner.com/en/marketing/insights/articles/2016-2017-gartner-cmo-spend-survey-reveals-the-cmos-growing-mandate