Why So Many Digital Transformation Initiatives Fail – and How to Make Sure Yours Succeed

Digital Growth Institute Founder & CEO James Robert Lay is an expert on simplifying digital marketing in financial services.

In a recent episode of Fresh Takes, Total Expert’s Chief Customer Officer Sue Woodard talked to James Robert about why 80% of digital transformation initiatives fail. 

Spoiler: it’s because many organizations are afraid to let go of the old way of doing things, which keeps marketing and sales from aligning to drive business growth.

Here are three insights from their conversation.

1: Marketing and Sales Alignment Depends on Digital Integration

A LinkedIn study found that 87% of sales and marketing professionals believe collaboration between the two teams enables critical business growth.

We know that alignment between these essential business functions sounds great in theory, but it’s hard to achieve in day-to-day operations. That’s because financial services marketing and sales have long been physically and strategically siloed.

In banking, for instance, sales traditionally happens on the ground in branch locations, while marketing runs in a back office operation. Sales is measured in hard numbers like leads and deals, while marketing is measured in soft metrics like branding.

Today, digital transformation is closing the sales-marketing disconnect across the financial services industry. Cohesion of the two teams’ purpose and goals is possible with digital platforms that integrate previously separated data and workflows.

2: For Digital Transformation to Work, Marketing and Sales Must Embrace New Processes

Organizations that embark on digital transformation initiatives to unify sales and marketing don’t always tap into the full power of their technology. And that’s where they run into trouble.

James Robert shares a real-time example of why one financial brand struggled to achieve alignment even after introducing new tech solutions: the sales team was still tracking metrics on an Excel spreadsheet because that’s what they were used to. Stories like these are why so many digital transformations don’t succeed.

True marketing and sales alignment can only happen when both teams embrace change. Organizations need awareness and buy-in from everyone involved about why and how processes are evolving before they undergo digital transformation. 

Otherwise people will just stick to what they know.

3: Better Data Enables Better Customer Experiences

The business value of marketing and sales alignment can be summed up in one word: data. Data is what empowers financial brands to deliver meaningful and personalized customer experiences.

Unified sales and marketing customer data provides rich insights at scale into how people are behaving and what they want. When both teams have access to that data, they can find more opportunities to guide customers to a better financial future. 

This why needs to be instilled in your sales and marketing teams from the start of any digital transformation initiative. New technology is simply the means by which you collect more data that allows you to better serve your customers.

Be Very Clear About What You Want to Achieve with Digital Transformation

Write down the letters G, R, and O on a piece of paper. Then answer each of these questions:

  • What are your goals?
  • What are your roadblocks?
  • What are your opportunities?

Before you start a digital transformation initiative, define what you want to achieve, what you anticipate standing in the way, and the growth areas you can create and capitalize on.

Then get to work. And measure your progress constantly.  

Listen to the episode for the full conversation.