The Top Revenue Apps

The Top 5 Business Growth Applications


  • There's no shortage of business growth technologies but there are plenty of questions as to which are most effective in accelerating revenue.
  • Research results found that 5 growth technologies were ranked as the most effective by the highest growth companies.
  • The research also revealed the top 2 business growth applications are Marketing Automation Platforms that are used to grow the sales funnel and CRM software which is used to convert the funnel.
Johnny Grow Revenue Growth Consulting

The 5 Top Revenue Apps — as Scored by the Highest Growth Companies

Business growth technologies are needed to scale revenue generation. And research shows the top revenue apps do just that.

IBM interviewed 3,000 CEOs for their report titled, Digital acceleration: Top technologies driving growth in a time of crisis and found technology significantly correlated with financial growth. The growth study revealed that, "more tech-savvy organizations outperformed their less tech-savvy peers on revenue growth by an average of 6 percentage points."

But for most business leaders, the question is not whether technologies are needed to grow the company. They know the answer. Instead, the question is, which technologies are most effective?

Research performed for the Business Growth Report focused on this later question and found five types of business software that most accelerated revenues.

Here are the results.

Top 5 Revenue Growth Technologies

See the research findings that show the 5 most effective business growth applications as scored by the highest revenue growth companies.

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For clarity, the research survey was designed not to identify the most used or popular business technologies, but the most effective.

Survey respondents scored each technology on a 10-point scale in terms of effectiveness. The research results were also delineated by performance archetype to understand what software technologies were used by the highest growth companies.

Now it's time to drill into each business application.


Marketing Technologies

Among the highest growth companies (i.e., the top 15% are the Best-in-Class archetype) Marketing Automation Platforms (MAP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems were tied as the most effective business development software applications.

The MAP is the system of record for sales leads and responsible for 6 business processes:

  1. Digital lead tracking
  2. Lead acquisition
  3. Lead scoring
  4. Lead maturation via nurture marketing campaigns
  5. Lead transfer to sales (when sales-ready), and
  6. Lead analytics

Software is a tool. It becomes effective when it delivers a business outcome. The primary business outcome for the MAP is to acquire high fit leads that grow the sales funnel.

Once a MAP acquires a sales lead, the MAP and the CRM system become inextricably linked. Marketers spend much of their time in the MAP and forwarding sales lead digital footprints to the CRM system. They also create workflow automation that monitors the CRM software for lead progression, stalled leads or leads that should be recycled back to the MAP. The below diagram shows some of the many information exchanges.

CRM and MAP Integration

There is another essential function. The MAP and CRM software are needed to manage the Sales and Marketing Service Level Agreement (SLA). That's critical because we know from a wide body of research and over three decades of experience that sales and marketing alignment is a prerequisite to efficiently scale revenue generation. We also know that sales and marketing alignment creates a synergistic relationship among the company's two top sales contributors by defining an orchestrated effort toward a mutual goal.

The top two marketing automation platforms as measured by market share are Adobe Experience Cloud and Salesforce Marketing Cloud.


Customer Relationship Management

While the MAP is the system of record for leads, the CRM software is the system of record for customers.

From a business expansion perspective, the primary business outcome for CRM software is to convert sales leads, of both new accounts and existing customers, into won sale opportunities.

It's important to recognize that CRM is both a business strategy and software application. One without the other is counter-productive.

CRM Strategy and Technology

The CRM strategy defines the outcomes, processes, and metrics to grow mutually rewarding and profitable customer relationships at scale. Strong client relationships directly correlate to company growth and profitability.

The CRM software brings data management, process automation and information reporting to achieve the strategy.

Without strategy the technology is aimless. You are just entering data into a database. Data is not valuable because it sits in an information system. Data is only valuable when it used to produce a user, customer or business outcome – which is what the CRM strategy defines.

Without strategy, most companies incur random acts of customer engagement and activities that either fail to achieve the most important business outcomes, or at best take a trial-and-error approach, and a much longer route.

Without technology, you can't automate and scale the strategy. You can't bring consistency, repeatability and automation to the strategic goals.

It's a symbiotic relationship where both components are required to grow customer relationships and achieve the essential downstream benefits such as increased customer acquisitions, customer share and customer retention.

One more thing. CRM is most effective when integrated with a technology strategy and when it serves users and customers, and not just management.

The prerequisite to CRM success is user adoption. The top factors for CRM adoption are ease of use, an intuitive user interface, a rewarding user experience, process automation and contextually delivered business intelligence. When CRM software raises staff productivity and performance goals it is wildly successful.

However, if CRM is just a data entry system so management can get a pipeline report, and users realize few benefits, wide scale adoption is challenged, and ROI is anemic.

The three market leading CRM systems are Salesforce, HubSpot and Microsoft Dynamics.


Innovation Systems

According to a McKinsey Global Survey, "84 percent of executives say innovation is extremely or very important to their companies' growth strategy." That's why innovation has evolved from an aspirational goal to a core competency among high growth companies.

Innovation is the process of converting a novel idea into a unique product, service or experience that creates value. The best place to acquire novel ideas is your customers.

Innovation software harvests customer and market data that is converted into insights. That information can then be used to improve existing products and services or create new innovative products and services.

Revenue Growth Strategies

Customers will tell you what they want, and how to improve your products or services, if you ask them. And doing that at scale requires apps such as Voice of the Customer, crowdsourcing, social listening, market intelligence apps and white space analysis apps.

Innovation is also improved with technology to prioritize ideas, track prototypes, forecast market acceptance and measure innovation program success. These types of tasks can be done in a purpose-built innovation system, or you can append your CRM system.

Innovation starts by finding customer problems that matter. That's why CRM is an option. It's the customer system of record, and when correctly implemented, manages all customer information in a way that can surface data to identify the most important problems that would benefit from innovative solutions.

Growth companies use innovation technologies to create more competitive products which in turn improve sales win rates, customer retention, financial margins and market share.


Revenue Analytics

Revenue analytics include digital dashboards, information reporting, industry benchmarks and predictive analytics. The Best-in-Class leaders show that analytics are most successful when they are designed in a sequence that connects data, insights and action and directly improves the most important user, customer and company outcomes.

The purpose of revenue analytics is to increase institutional knowledge, customer engagement, performance improvements and decision making that drives improved financial outcomes. That includes using data to deliver differentiated customer experiences and delivering real-time alerts for performance variances so management can quickly intervene to implement course corrections.

Analytics are the primary technology to find ways to work smarter, not harder.

The research found revenue analytics were rated effective when they focused on the most important metrics and delivered actionable insights that would otherwise not have been unearthed.

The most valuable type of business intelligence cited was predictive analytics. This information enables executives to model the lead to cash funnel and engineer desired results.

Company Growth Formula Predictive Model

The predictive analytic example above calculates the conversions at each step of the funnel. This allows management to experiment and forecast different uplift strategies and best practices, and see the pro forma financial impact in real-time. It's this type of data-driven analytic that shifts revenue generation planning from guesswork to systemic execution and precisely forecasted results.

The top performing companies cited revenue growth analytics as their top tool for continuous process improvements and the realization of targeted financial goals. However, lower performing peers were more often data rich but information poor. They understood the value of data but struggled to transform it into actionable intelligence.

Revenue analytics were rated ineffective when they presented information that was considered unimportant or not actionable for the recipient. Survey respondents often cited too much low value information that was ignored. They also noted their analytics could not demonstrate an objectively measured ROI. When any technology fails to show payback, its budget is cut, and it deteriorates until it eventually and predictably fails.


Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) improves customer engagement, staff productivity and business outcomes.

AI adds value to most other growth technologies. It helps marketing software acquire more leads and sales software close more deals. It helps customer facing staff use customer data to deliver more relevant, personalized and contextual engagement. It makes predictive analytics more accurate.

AI works best when connected to roles or personas with high impact use cases. For example, it aids marketing staff productivity and customer engagement with next-best-offer or next-best-action recommendations, content recommendations, and personalized offers.

Survey respondents advised that AI was ineffective when the technology failed to provide answers to important revenue challenges. Several said that they got stuck in perpetual AI pilots because the trials were organized as technology projects looking for business outcomes. That seldom works as the most important business outcomes and their supporting use cases need to be the starting point.

AI for Company Growth

The prior growth technologies hold a treasure trove of customer, product, and sales data. However, there is such a thing as too much data, or at least more data than can be manually processed.

AI is the technology to convert raw data from an unused byproduct to a predictor of customer behaviors, creator of business development insights and facilitator of customer and sales objectives.

Popular marketing systems such as Adobe with its Sensei artificial intelligence and CRM systems such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 with its Azure Machine Learning and Salesforce with Einstein have removed many of the technical barriers and put AI capabilities into the hands of analysts and power users.