Digital Champions Interview: Where Is The Marketplace Evolving With Regard to Sales and Marketing?

Digital Champions Interview: Where Is The Marketplace Evolving With Regard to Sales and Marketing?

Our founding partner and VP, Douglas Karr, was recently invited to the Digital Champions show with Charlene Shirk to discuss Highbridge, how we assist companies, and the dramatic change we’ve witnessed and assisted businesses with in B2C and B2B sales and marketing. Here’s the full interview.

Digital Champions Interview Transcript

Charlene Shirk: Hi everybody. I’m Charlene Shirk. I’m your host to Digital Champions, where we get to speak to some of the most innovative thought leaders in the digital space. And today, we’re joined by Douglas Karr with Highbridge. Douglas, thanks so much for joining us today.

Douglas Karr: All right. It’s fantastic to be here. Thanks for having me.

Charlene Shirk: So tell us a little bit about what you do and what you’re consulting on.

Douglas Karr: Well, primarily it’s the business of digital transformation. I know that’s a broad term, but what we have seen is that enterprise companies and even medium sized businesses tend to get stuck on this huge vision and sold on a platform that’s going to solve all of their problems. And, there’s really not a balance in their company for talent, strategy prioritization, et cetera. We work primarily around Salesforce and Marketing Cloud but we did work in other platforms and technologies as well.

Douglas Karr: We help companies kind of re-route the way that they’re doing things. It might be from talent acquisition and training and development, through process development and prioritization. And then, really leveraging their technology. So internally, trying to automate as much as they can because resources have really dried up, especially in the marketing and sales side of the equation at a lot of companies. And then from an external standpoint for customer experience.

Charlene Shirk: It sounds like you get their house in order first, so that when you do the great marketing and engagement that you’re going to do to get those conversion, that once that comes back in house, they’ve got a process to execute this successfully.

Douglas Karr: That’s exactly it. And that’s the chief problem that we see is that people get sold on the platform, which is the end of the road. And instead of really looking at what are they going to do internally to leverage that technology to transform their business.

Charlene Shirk: And even track those leads. To see where they’re coming from, who they’re coming from? And then, what’s happening to those leads? So is that… And usually, a company like yours involved into offering these services, because they’ve seen that this is a need amongst the clients that are being drawn to them. Is that what happened in your case? Is that kind of the, maybe they had a pain point, hey, we want to market better. But then you realize, oh, you need to get the wheels on first before you can really start marketing.

Douglas Karr: That’s exactly it. I started my career in marketing technology (I was actually in newspapers and digital in database marketing prior to that). When I started in digital, everything was so focused on platforms. These companies keep implementing these platforms and spending just millions of dollars on implementation, integration and they’re still having problems. And they’re not realizing the return on investment.

Douglas Karr: If you look at the major players – Adobe, Microsoft, Salesforce, Oracle, SAP -the chief complaint of all of those is their customers didn’t realize their return on investment. The problem is all of those platforms are highly customizable. I liken it to buying a race car. You’re not buying an off-the-showroom-floor Chevy. You’re buying a Formula One race car. And when you buy a race car, you don’t just buy the car, right? You have to get the team and the mechanic and the training and all of the supporting documentation, all of the supporting implementation devices, measurement devices, all of those things. And then you got to learn how to race the car.

Charlene Shirk: I knew you were going to go there and then you have to learn how to drive the car once you get all the team and the fancy things in place.

Charlene Shirk: So let’s talk about where you see this marketplace evolving in the next two years.

Douglas Karr: Change has happened because of the pandemic, the supply chain issues, and all the other challenges. I hate to say there’s a plus side of that but buying has really become personal. You’re seeing the great resignation where people are leaving good paying jobs because they spent some more time at home and they figured out what their quality of life was and everything else.

Douglas Karr: When we look at the marketing technology and sales side of the industry 10 years ago, it was hyper focused on, what are the results for the company? Is this going to move the company forward from a profitability standpoint and efficiency standpoint?

Douglas Karr: Now, when we’re talking to people, they’re more concerned about, well, is this going to impact my overtime, is this going to impact my quality of life with my family, that I’ve newly discovered? Is this going to risk my promotion? All of these layers are now added. Buying has become really personal, even from a B2B standpoint, not just a B2C standpoint.

Douglas Karr: Companies are having to make an adjustment. Great salespeople have always focused on developing those personal relationships. But where we’re seeing a lot of companies fall down is companies were just talking about their features, their benefits, their return on investment with their platform. Now they’re having to go back and rethink their marketing. How are we developing the strategy because of everything else that matters now? Like how your company is helping your community.

Douglas Karr: We’ve watched foundations move from outside the company to companies providing employees days to work in the community. Companies are getting involved in legal and political issues. Buying has gone from this strict, kind of corporate siloed decision making process to, now, it’s about my life, my quality of life, and who I’m working with. Do I appreciate your company? That’s a lot to juggle, for a sales and marketing team to rebuild their strategies and kind of rebrand their companies moving forward.

Charlene Shirk: You know what Douglas, I think we’ve all realized life is precious. And sometimes some crap just isn’t worth it anymore. You know?

Douglas Karr: That, that’s exactly it.

Douglas Karr: I worked at a lot of large software as a service vendors where they were sold these incredible visions, and then they, along the way, along the implementation, they missed that vision and frustrated their customers and everything else. And so, what we’re really trying to do is help people set valid expectations of what’s achievable. Look at the resources internal, and then steer them in that direction and really set up a valid expectation, maybe even if it goes outside the sales cycle.

Charlene Shirk: Douglas, Oh, I could talk to you all day long. You and I are on the same page all day long. I think what you’ve shared with folks is very functionally informational and inspirational informational. I really must say, Douglas, thank you so much for joining us today. We really appreciate at your time.

Douglas Karr: You’re very welcome. Thanks for having me.

Charlene Shirk: Our pleasure. And that was Douglas Karr with Highbridge. Hey, sometimes it’s just not worth the crap anymore people. So thanks so much for joining us on Digital Champions. I’m your host, Charlene Shirk. If you’d like to learn more about hybrid consultants, check them out on Thanks for joining us. Have a great one.

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