I have some experience with with sales & marketing software, and have done technical consulting for clients around email campaigns and Adwords. I’ve worked on e-commerce and CRM systems too. But that’s not my main focus. I’m a software developer and my specialty is testing & automation.
In the work I’ve done, I’ve been impressed by slick user interfaces and big promises (often illustrated by colorful charts), but I’ve always come away from those engagments frustrated, not just with technical complexity, but with an appreciation for the people who need to use these systems to do their work — which is primarily with people.
For instance, a salesperson who has to change the way he works into Salesforce for forecasting, a writer & SEO expert trying smoothly coordinate her marketing message across blog, social media, email and ad campaigns, or a fulfillment division trying to customize their order & support systems to handle their products that don’t fit a cookie-cutter mold.
I don’t think a single monolithic system that solves all these problems is the right way to go. For one thing, only a huge organization could afford something like this. Also, it’s bound to be as clunky and one-size-fits-all as any other existing system. And it would never get finished.
I think of how software is being made simpler with microservices and adaptive user interfaces. Let the users control their data and shape it the way they need it. Let the software provide the integration. Let domain experts define how they deal with it — the salesperson, the marketer, the writer, the SEO expert, the division manager, the CEO.
I think of how I write automation. First I understand the manual process, and then I try to understand the actual business requirements. Then I try to reconcile them and start with automating the parts that make the most sense, and provide the most value.
Sometimes it’s a combination of automated & manual steps that are more successful than either a fully automated or completely manual approach. And then, if you’re lucky, processes can change to make it even easier to automate once you have the confidence in your software — and the time freed from making it work for you — to think about what’s really important in your business.
I’d love to talk with people in these different roles and hear their frustrations and ideas for how sales & marketing software could be better — or even better, how doing their jobs could be easier — in spite of the software they currently have to use.