Death By 1,000 Apps: Why Tech Is Actually Making Us Less Efficient

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Mimi An
Mimi An



TL;DR: As people more adopt tools designed to make marketers and salespeople more efficient, new complications arise. Sure, people are now faster at completing work tasks, but now they're spending more time managing different technologies, performing data entry, and reconciling reports.

  • Though survey respondents indicate they have a manageable number of tools, 82% are still losing hours a week due to managing different technologies. Additionally:
    • 72% of salespeople spend up to an hour a day on data entry and connecting records from different sales tools.
    • 75% of marketers spend up to an hour a day analyzing data and connecting reports from different marketing tools.
  • Majority of respondents say 1-5 of the tools they use have redundant capabilities.
  • If they could have their time back, sales and marketing would spend their time increasing the bottom line.
  • Nearly 60% of marketing teams spend up to 10% of their budget to integrate, maintain, and manage their various tools.

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Table of Contents (8 minute read)

    1. Introduction
    2. The Most Frustrating Aspects of Many Tools
    3. We Underestimate the Number of Tools We Use
    4. Time Is Wasted Unnecessarily
    5. Where Marketers and Salespeople Want to Spend Their Time
    6. Conclusion: A Framework to Decrease Complexity
    7. Methodology

Thousands of technologies have been developed to help all of us become more efficient, especially at work. Business owners, marketers, and salespeople have embraced new tools that help them accomplish the many tasks that make up their workday. But the myriad of tools information workers need to use every day is creating new complications. People are getting bogged down by the number of tools they have to log in to, manage, integrate, and reconcile.

So while a marketer may be faster at a specific task they need to accomplish, it turns out they lose the time they saved because they have to continuously switch between their reporting tool and their content tool or try to tie the results from a social campaign to an email send or landing page.

HubSpot surveyed over 2,000 business owners, marketers, and salespeople to see how much time was being spent on managing different technologies and to find out what they would rather do with their time. To better optimize their time, sales and marketing leaders should focus on making sure the software they use sits on the same technology stack and can easily integrate with each other.

The Most Frustrating Aspects of Many Tools 

Why is this a problem? Many of us have felt the frustration of dealing with multiple accounts, interfaces, reporting nuances, and manual data entry. For respondents, the top frustrations are:

  1. Monitoring and maintenance of tools
  2. Managing passwords and switching between tools
  3. Integrating different tools
  4. Connecting data across tools

From the results, we see two major themes:

The act of managing different tools is frustrating and time-consuming, and a lack of integration across technologies are causing headaches for our respondents. Marketers and salespeople are spending significant time dealing with the complexity created by disparate tools.

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When broken down by job function, marketers appear to feel more frustration compared to their sales counterparts. Technical developments in the past 10 years have forced marketers to become more technically savvy and to execute campaigns on many more channels. Marketers deal with more tools because there are so many more activities -- paid ads (digital and traditional), demand generation, social media through many channels, email marketing, content marketing, and so on, It's safe to say that the marketing motion is a lot more complex than it has ever been and while tools were developed to help make things easier, they're also causing problems.

In comparison, salespeople cite switching between tools and managing passwords as their top peeve. Perhaps it's because the development of sales tools has lagged behind that of marketing tools, but even so, as more salespeople adopt newly available technologies such as email tracking, phone dictation, sales enablement, file management, and a CRM, more stress points will develop.

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To make things worse, our respondents admit that a handful of their tools have redundant capabilities. Marketers and salespeople are switching between tools, manually updating data, combining data in Excel, and reconciling reports when they potentially don’t need to. Small businesses usually operate on smaller budgets; investing in multiple products that have the same functionality wastes both valuable time and resources.

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In fact, on the marketing side, 22% of respondents said 6% to 10% of their total marketing budget was spent on maintaining marketing technologies.

 Want this chart? Click to download.

We Underestimate the Number of Tools We Use

When HubSpot analyzed our customer base of over 20,000 websites, we found that each website has an average of 13 tool integrations enabled. In the most extreme case, one customer had 88 technologies enabled on its site. In our research survey, however, the majority of respondents stated they only use 1 to 5 technologies for their day jobs. Given our audit of customer integrations, we think many respondents underestimated the number of tools they actually use and manage.

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Why do we believe this? First, it’s easy to downplay -- technology is so seamlessly integrated into our lives many don't really think about all the different tools or sites they log in to on a day-to-day basis. As the consumerization of IT continues, many people also don’t consider all the different categories of tools they use in their jobs. For example, we asked about social media and ad platforms, and many marketing respondents indicated they were using multiple tools in just those two categories. Likewise, 56% of sales respondents said they had 1 to 5 tools integrated into their CRM.

Secondly, we know marketers have a lot of tools at their disposal. has been tracking the steady growth of marketing technologies for the past decade. The 2016 landscape, as seen below, is dizzying. It's obvious that there are a large number of tools available. And most marketing teams will have reason to use at least one tool in each category to be effective at executing and reporting on campaigns. Managing those tools can be a difficult balancing act.


Traditionally, we think of sales reps as people who call prospects, attend meetings ready to sell, answer questions, and prepare paperwork and legal documents. But as buyers become harder to connect with, salespeople who are invested in hitting their quotas are turning to tools to help them prospect, sell, and close. As a result, the sales landscape is multiplying rapidly, with 100 new companies added in 2016 alone. As of January 2017, there are 450 tools for salespeople to leverage.

Source: Nicolas De Kouchkovsky, CaCube Consulting

Time Is Wasted Unnecessarily

Despite reporting a fairly modest number of tools in their repertoire, our respondents indicate they lose a sizeable chunk of time dealing with their tools. 82% of respondents indicated that they lost up to an hour a day because they had to log in to and manage many different systems.

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That’s a sizeable chunk of time -- up to 5 hours a week spent just on managing technology. The time lost is probably a clearer reflection of the true cost of using tools: Energy is wasted by salespeople or marketers using multiple technologies designed to make them more efficient. This is all time spent away from completing core tasks that will directly drive the bottom line, whether it’s closing more deals or converting leads into customers.
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In follow-up questions we found:

  • 72% of salespeople spend up to an hour a day on data entry and connecting records from different sales tools.
  • 75% of marketers spend up to an hour a day analyzing data and connecting reports from different marketing tools.

 Want this chart? Click to download.

Want this chart? Click to download.

When it comes to dealing with 5, 10, or 15 different technologies, large companies with substantial marketing and sales teams have the luxury of manpower -- specific teams leveraging discrete sets of tools made for work within their swimlane. But SMBs, which comprise the majority of our survey respondents, typically don’t have specialized teams within their marketing and sales functions. Often, for very small businesses, one or two marketers or salespeople have to manage the myriad of tools at their disposal. This means less time is spent on their core functions. Significant man hours are lost on busy work because systems available now don’t integrate or talk to each other as they should.

Where Marketers and Salespeople Want to Spend Their Time 

If our respondents could recover their lost time, they’d focus on revenue-oriented tasks. Salespeople in particular would use their time to close more deals and make their sales funnel more efficient. Marketers want to convert more leads into customers and create more content to add to their funnel. These tasks that impact revenue are important for any business -- large or small.

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For smaller teams, it helps to be more strategic and focused in terms of execution and priorities. There will always be too much to do and not enough time. Small teams cannot and should not focus on every channel, especially in marketing, so choose the areas that have historically been successful and double down.

A Framework to Decrease Complexity

Product creep, or the ongoing expansion of software tools for sales and marketing, has started to nullify the very productivity and time savings these tools are offer. As these added tools go beyond and outside of the original problems they are meant to solve, they impair sales and marketing teams. This creates unwanted complexity, system incompatibility, general confusion, and too many logins to manage. For most teams, product creep happens silently and managers aren’t aware that it’s an issue until it has already become a time suck for individual contributors.

The Good News

A simple audit and some addition by subtraction can solve the issue. As a first step, managers and owners should review the tools they use, identify where people are losing the most time, find redundant offerings, try to consolidate as best as possible, and focus on integration.

The ultimate goal should be to build a simple, well-designed set of tools that work together to drive sales and marketing growth. At HubSpot, we call this a Growth Stack, tools that work seamlessly with each other and span across multiple departments. To build your own Growth Stack to drive down technical complexity, here's a simple set of questions for leaders either evaluating their current toolset or new technologies:

  • Does it integrate?
  • Does it have an open API?
  • Is it built for speed?
  • Does it fill a gap? Or is it duplicative?
  • Does it aid collaboration? Or hinder it?
  • Is it helpful?

Of course a single tool is probably not going to cover the needs of an entire marketing and sales team. The key is to mindfully seek out products that are integrated with each other. Technologies with a robust integration ecosystem allows teams to save time. Instead of manually reconciling different reports or trying to get different systems to talk to each other, teams can focus on productive tasks. Technology should make our lives easier, and you can avoid complexity by looking at toolsets that are developed with scale and integrations in mind. It'll save you both time and frustration in the long run.



Research methodology

HubSpot Research ran an online survey leveraging a custom panel of business owners, marketers, and salespeople maintained via Google Surveys. 2,008 respondents from the US, UK, and Ireland make up the sample. Respondents were screened for their primary involvement in sales or marketing and their knowledge of the tools they use. The survey was available in English and fielded in December 2016.

This report contains links for HubSpot Content, Products, and Services.


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