Companies are developing digital selling strategies to align themselves to the rapidly changing face of “the buyers journey”. A digital selling strategy goes way beyond the use of tools or technology. The realization facing many leaders is that implementing digital selling strategies involves implementing a transformation or change management process. This is because digital selling is really a behavioral or mindset change not just with the sales teams but across all customer touch points.
The main question to be answered is how companies embed digital selling capabilities into the very DNA of the business. This question is important as B2B buyers are acting just like consumers more and more. Driving the change in the “buyers journey” is a combination of access to content and digital native comfort. These are having a transformational effect on every aspect of the B2B sales cycle. To meet the needs this new reality, both sales and marketing must retool every aspect of their sales strategies and tactics, from social reach, to social impact to lead generation.
Digital Selling Strategies Should Optimize the Sales Cycle.
We know that the changes in the buyer’s journey continue to reshape the whole sales process and how they interact with vendors. Buyers are now self-educating, conducting online research, pre-selecting vendors based on content they read and engaging with sales via different communication channels. Research also points to the fact that buyers are now engaging with salespeople later on in the sales cycle. This trend is changing the roles and activities of the sales teams where insightfulness is valued over information.
Another trend impacting digital selling strategies is that B2B buyers are now engaging with content similar to their B2C counterparts, meaning salespeople need to adapt their selling routines to stay relevant. Yet despite the challenges of pivoting to a digital selling lead strategy, the long-term benefits will override any short-term difficulties as “digital selling” companies are nearly six times more likely to secure prospect engagement and overachieve on sales targets by as much as 50%.
Selling Requires Internal Collaboration
The term Smarketing (sales + marketing) is tailor made for digital selling success. Sales and marketing collaboration is vital in order to generate the right digital assets (video content, articles, whitepapers, case studies, research, messaging templates etc.) for social selling or social media campaigns based on data. Then both sales and marketing need to measure target customer participation from the digital assets so they can keep re-assessing how to best engage them.
Digital selling is here now and only going to grow in importance. The use of data and customer profiling together with buying insights will improve prospect and customer targeting with the digital assets that can open up sales conversations. Digital selling strategies are now being implemented by customer first companies everywhere.
Digital Selling is a People Business.
B2B buyers are the very same buyers who purchase books, gadgets, cars, phones and household items. While they self-educate and conduct research independently of any sales input, they also demand human touch points and highly personalized communication. People lead digital selling across the digital channels will show buyers that there is a real person behind the brand, ones who can answer questions and build social reach.
Any digital selling strategy must plan for a consistent approach from all the salespeople or customer service personnel across all channels. This includes social etiquette, branding, content guidelines, product presentations, digital assets and messaging guides. Companies that deliver this unified personal experience will extend their social reach and impact, while deepening their influence with buyers.
Mastering Digital Selling
Walk the Modern Buyers Journey.
The buyers journey has changed due to the availability of information via the web and the social channels. Now we see a buying process that is so much more fluid with added complexity and where buyers don’t compartmentalize. While they are educating they are also evaluating, while they are considering, they are also classifying. It is not a linear journey, it is more akin to river that twists and flows throughout the buying process.
So, the modern B2B buyer’s journey is the active research and stages they go through leading up to a purchasing decision. Companies need to have the sales and marketing teams map each step of the customer experience from the client perspective to see where the gaps lie and how they can close them.
Every stage of the buyer’s journey requires online and offline touch points, digital assets, messaging and collaboration that must be planned out in detail to achieve a positive outcome.
Think Smarketing – a partnership between sales and marketing.
Smarketing is about the alignment of your sales and marketing teams. Digital selling strategies requires that both sales and marketing are working towards the same goals and helping each other to achieve them. It’s about breaking down silos, having the same goals and ensuring mutual accountability.
In sales 3.0 the relationship with the prospect is now largely based on the value a salesperson or business brings to their buyer’s journey. The value is delivered through relevant content, digital assets or via personalized interactions which add value to the prospect. This has become known as the “Givers Gain” model, with the sales organization focused on being useful and valuable in the sales process. This forward-thinking approach to acquiring customers is the exact opposite of the smash and grab sales models of the past.
It’s about co-ownership: Sales and marketing must jointly own and agree upon the value proposition, assets and touch points within the digital selling strategy. In fact, companies will need to adapt a B2C mindset when selling to their B2B customers which requires cross functional cooperation and embracing digital selling. As the purchasing similarities between B2B and B2C become every closer, the combination of digital tactics, social selling, and a customer-first approach will be essential to winning and retaining customers in the digital era.
Digital Strategies Should Make Buying Easier.
The goal every business must strive to achieve is a more seamless buying experience that reflects how buyers want to interact with a brand. The modern B2B buyer doesn’t care whether their query belongs to marketing, sales or service; they just want it answered.
This is why sales best practices is built on “Let’s simplify the customer’s buying journey”, to make it easier to engage and purchase. To provide insights, guidance and collaborate with the customers along an increasingly noisy purchasing journey, one they would struggle to navigate on their own.
Business leaders need to replace the “I’ll tell you what you need” or the “Tell us what you need and We’ll deliver it to you” with “Let me help you, I’ll work with you in whatever way you require to show you what needs to be completed in order to make a purchase happen.”
Be Comfortable Living with Disruption.
A digital selling strategy is not just about tools or technology. It requires undertaking a change management process along with a change in mindset to respond to this new business reality. The reality that businesses have to transform in order to stay relevant. Comfort means steady as we go, and mindset will result in companies falling behind. In sales, the rules of the game are being rewritten by the buyer, and so leaders must get comfortable with managing uncertainty. As digital natives move to the front, the pace of change, the selling environment will only accelerate and digital becomes the new normal. Everyone in the sales training organization needs to embrace a level of discomfort, so this can be used as a real business advantage.
Implementing Digital Selling and sales Strategies isn’t easy but the opportunity to future proof both online and offline interactions with buyers is one that a business cannot afford to miss.