As more and more connected products hit the shelves and ultimately move into people’s homes and workplaces, so the scale and dynamism of the data they are collecting becomes truly extraordinary. Gartner’s frequently-cited prediction that, by next year, 26 billion connected devices will be in place across the world, gives a sense of just how much information could be tapped into. From the amount of exercise undertaken by individuals to the rates of energy usage across an entire electricity grid; from the location-related logistics of a fleet of taxis to the performance of machinery on a factory floor, the IoT means information above all else.
And that information is having a profound effect on how the old business disciplines of sales and marketing operate. Let’s take a closer look at how.
Knowledge is power
Sales and marketing have always relied on information in order to deliver a truly targeted and tailored approach to potential customers. Salespeople and marketeers need to know what customers want. What are their pain points? What would they like to improve? What makes them happy? The answers to these questions have long been used by marketeers to tailor how products are positioned and priced, and by salespeople to present the right solutions, have the most effective conversations.
So any technological innovation which unlocks fresh information as to how potential customers think is a huge boon for these disciplines. And this is precisely with the IoT does.
First, the IoT offers major opportunities for businesses to capture information on how their products are operating in situ, with existing customers. If those products are able to automatically transmit data on how they are performing or how they are being used back to a centralised analytics platform, then the business no longer has to rely on direct customer feedback to understand how its products are operating.
Information from those existing products can be used to identify the further and future needs of those customers – when they might need a new or improved product, or what additional products might best support them, for example.
Second, the broader and richer data that businesses can capture in this way can also feed directly into new product development, new product positioning, and more targeted sales strategies, which will ultimately help them to win new customers.
Then there are other business functions which can still benefit enormously from the IoT and pass that information on to sales and marketing for an enhanced customer experience. For example, better product tracking throughout the fulfilment process can enable more transparent and efficient communication with customers whilst their order is being delivered. In turn, this helps the organisation to be positioned as communicative and honest.
Striking the balance
Of course, sales and marketing functions must always strike a careful balance between offering personalised experiences and seeming intrusive, and as the IoT continues to offer new sources of data to work from, businesses will have to think carefully about how to strike this balance. Being upfront about what data is being collected and what is being done with it, and taking data protection and compliance seriously in a well-publicised way, is critical.
The IoT is ushering in an exciting new era across almost all aspects of business. Creative, innovative sales and marketing teams have a huge amount to gain from this mass of new data.