This is the second article in a series about digital transformation and its impact on business operations. Other articles include:
- What's The Deal With Digital Transformation?
- How Digital Transformation is changing Marketing
- How Digital Transformation is Driving Customer Success
Savvy sales professionals are leaning on new digital technologies and software to gain a competitive edge. Over the last 20-years, there has been a seismic shift in the roles of sales, and how they interact with the target customer. Compared to the early 2000s, it now takes 66% longer to connect with prospects, with the average sales cycle taking 50% more time to win. To win back a competitive edge, digital transformation centering on sales is becoming more prominent.
There are three main areas within sales that digital transformation is paying major dividends
Market changes and customer behavior are here to stay and for forward-thinking companies, provide an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage over their competitors. There are three main areas within sales that digital transformation is paying major dividends that are core to a businesses success, and even getting one of them right is a differentiating factor. However, the sales professionals that do all three well, will significantly outperform their competition.
Lead and Demand Generation
Lead generation and demand generation are thought of as two separate things. But they actually work together to drive revenue. Demand and lead generation can be a long game. And since 98% of B2B website visitors do not make an inquiry — businesses often miss vital opportunities to turn them into leads.
The best lead and demand generation tools should easily integrate into the existing technology stack.
Digital enablement to fill the initial part of your sales funnel normally focuses on either helping to qualify leads or provide a constant stream of high quality contacts to engage with. Either of these can be extremely effective to increase the amount of high quality leads for a business.
The best lead and demand generation tools should easily integrate into the existing technology stack. Among the systems any new tool should be compatible with is your Customer Relationship Management (CRM). As the hub of your customer-related data, the CRM should receive all leads for the sales team to deal with accordingly.
Every company that offers multiple products and services seeks to have customers purchase as many as possible. Colloquially, salespeople know that the more products an individual purchases, the higher retention and total lifetime value a customer will have. But within the context of digital transformation for sales, what should companies be prioritizing to encourage this ‘sticky’ behavior?
The single biggest driver of stickiness, by far, was “decision simplicity”
A 2015 Harvard Business Review article seems to hold the answer and illuminates an important goal that all sales teams should have when undergoing digital transformation: simplicity. When determining future sales strategies, companies should prioritize making the buying decision as easy as possible.
The article “looked at the impact on stickiness of over 40 variables, including price, customers’ perceptions of a brand, and how often consumers interacted with the brand. The single biggest driver of stickiness, by far, was “decision simplicity”—the ease with which consumers can gather trustworthy information about a product and confidently and efficiently weigh their purchase options. What consumers want from sales is, simply, simplicity.” This simplicity is the key to account rounding and a critical business requirement for future sales teams.
Within the customer life cycle, retention is an area of digital transformation that has recently been receiving a lot of attention. And for good reason. Retention is key to increasing customer lifetime value and lowering the acquisition cost.
Customer satisfaction is less important for retention than it is as a major factor in a customer’s decision to buy more of that company’s products.
Imagine what your sales team could do if you could predict retention 30-days, 60-days, and 90-days from a product’s expiration date? Imagine no more. Many startups, a class of emerging businesses seeking to augment existing businesses with new technological capabilities, including this one, can do this in real-time.
Improving retention rates is as simple as keeping the customer happy, and as complex as knowing when they are likely to leave. Recent research has found that customer satisfaction is a major factor in a customer’s decision to buy more of that company’s products. This research shows the importance of retention being a key sales goal, as the direct correlation between the two drives significant revenue when done effectively. For sales, making this information common knowledge is an important digital transformation goal.
People-to-people sales are an important part of most companies. Even with direct-to-consumer channels increasing in popularity, most B2B sales will continue to involve sales professionals. The reason? B2B sales can be extremely complex and logistically challenging. The trust formed between the vendor and buying party, through sales professionals, is key to closing the deal and keeping the account. Even the best technology will have trouble displacing this bond.
Innovative sales teams are looking for the next competitive advantage to maintain their edge. Lead and Demand Generation, Account Rounding, and Retention are areas that technology is having a sizable impact. For those companies looking for staying power, these three areas provide a logical place to start your digital transformation journey for sales.