Richard Lane, Chief Commercial Officer of durhamlane, one of the UK’s leading integrated sales and marketing agencies, discusses the importance of the customer experience and the impact of digitalisation in sales with the emergence of digital selling, voice and AI.
These days we’re all influenced by the ‘Amazon effect’. B2C customers are accustomed to being guided intuitively throughout the buying process and B2B now expects the same speed and ease when purchasing.
As customers become more digitally savvy, and experience frictionless online purchases in their personal lives, sales teams are having to be more agile in their approach and must be willing to try different ways of communicating and engaging with prospects and customers. These days you can communicate via phone call, email, LinkedIn, Teams, Zoom, or even WhatsApp message. Ultimately, you’ve got to be where your customers live and work hard to get ‘inside their world’.
We must engage our prospects on their territory. To be able to interact, communicate and get your message across to customers and prospects, technology and a digital-enabled approach needs to be at the centre of your sales and solutions skills.
Embracing digital is an essential component for the future of sales and one of the reasons why incorporating marketing into your sales processes is so important.
Digitalisation is already transforming how we engage prospects and help our customers to buy from us. Think about it, how many Amazon salespeople have you ever encountered?
Digital selling v social selling
You will have heard of digital selling and social selling being bandied around in recent years. Put simply, digital selling is where you use digital tools to reach prospects such as data analytics, automation, CRM systems, online meetings and sales intelligence platforms.
Social selling comes under the digital selling umbrella and uses social media channels to reach out to prospects and build relationships. ‘Socially’ listening to customers and understanding what they need plays a big part in navigating the decision-making process and ensuring you can add value.
Social media is dominating the sales and marketing industry, and with most people having smartphones, marketeers and salespeople are having to create new and innovative ways of selling their brands.
Take Instagram for example. Whilst a B2C platform, Instagram is a great platform for introducing professionals to B2B services and firms are capitalising on its sales opportunities. New job roles are being created to purely focus on the massive advertising opportunities that this platform has to offer. Companies are exploiting the fact that a large percentage of users will immediately go and buy a product or service after discovering it on Instagram.
The rise of voice and AI is also going to create huge change. It’s a fascinating area where we’re going to see more call diagnosis, video intelligence and AI-enabled transcription intelligence enter sales processes. Salespeople will spend less time taking notes and inputting data and more time building those all-important human-to-human relationships with customers.
Investing in digitalisation for sales
Adopting digitalisation across your sales efforts can benefit your business in so many ways. It will increase efficiency and productivity, provide more agility and resilience to the business, improve customer engagement and increase revenue capability. It also leads to greater levels of innovation and collaboration within a business which in turn supports growth.
When investing in digitalisation it can be hard knowing which digital tool is right for your business. The trouble with any digital tool is that you only get out what you put in, and the quality of what you put in is often not good enough. Lack of time and resource is always going to be an ongoing challenge for every business.
Firstly, you need to audit your existing processes and consider the challenges you face then work your way up to adopting digital tools.
Whether it’s a coaching tool, content management platforms, leadgeneration resources, artificial intelligence (AI), business intelligence (BI), or technology to support an increased workforce working from home, ultimately, it’s all dependent on the size of your business and no tool is going to be a 100% fit.
Adopting digitalisation in your sales process using outsourced support
With the adoption of digitalisation moving at a rapid pace, businesses that have limited time and resource should be open-minded to outsourcing external support if they want to stay relevant and achieve their growth goals.
Using external support can help you break into the digital world, especially if time and resources are holding you back. Digitalisation won’t happen overnight and can often take time to roll out successfully.
Partnering with a company that understands digitalisation in sales and how it can work for your business will help successfully roll it out across your business.
You need to embrace an omni-channel method of outreach. There are so many different tools and technologies to aid communication now, the first objective must be to create a tech-stack that works effectively and efficiently for your business.
Sales should be about giving customers what they want. Find out what they need first then tailor the sales journey for them. Not understanding the customer’s desired outcome can be a recipe for sales failure.
It is worth remembering that people still like to buy from people, so whilst technology and digital tools are available, a human-led approach is still highly effective.
Life is always a blend!