Go for marginal gains, with the sales rep experience at the centre of transformation
The art of selling is distinctly human and skilled salespeople have always used their wits, empathy, and creative thinking to help give the customer what they need. Meanwhile, digital technology is unlocking significant growth for many companies and its potential is vast. Many firms are looking to reap the benefits of digital, but radical changes that alienate the sales team are less likely to succeed. The best sales processes combine the potential of digital with the human touch, and are developed in collaboration with marketing. When we’ve worked with marketing teams who’ve involved sales in the planning process, it adds another dimension, we have a fuller picture and can design smarter lead generation and nurturing processes.
Digital transformation doesn’t have to mean investing in a whole new digital ecosystem and associated processes. Making incremental changes that support the sales team in their efforts can set you on the path towards enhanced growth.
We’re always hearing about the ‘wealth of data’ available to support the sales process. But in the rush to digitally transform, this wealth can become a torrent that is overwhelming and hard to engage with. Putting the sales rep experience at the centre of the digital marketing planning process can help focus on what’s going to be most effective. Programmes that are overly complicated are hard to implement and maintain, and spit out reams of data that can be hard to decipher. Often creating smarter systems means something simpler and more straightforward that delivers precisely what's needed – a short lists of qualified prospects.
Through lead scoring programmes, marketing can automate targeted lists for sales people. This shows the sales team who is ready to take the next step and the interactions that have identified that person as a prospect ready to be engaged with.
Up-to-date sales collateral
Printed brochures quickly go out of date and PDFs and PowerPoint presentations can end up existing in various versions among different team members. But digital sales materials that are updated centrally can make use of the latest news, developments and insights to support the sales process. With central control, old content can be ‘retired’ when needed, so there are no out-of-date copies circulating. Downloadable guides and informational materials can give a high level of detail on the latest offerings. And topical blog posts can connect with the customer on issues that are important to them.
More tailored, relevant marketing
Personalisation is being sold as the new marketing paradigm, implying the need to create bespoke content to support every conversation with your audience. The technology to support this has never been more powerful and accessible, but in B2B, a measured approach is more helpful. Rather than overpromising on personalisation, you can use digital technology to support accurate segmentation. Audiences naturally respond better to tailored, relevant marketing rather than generic messaging, and segmentation helps the sales team focus their efforts.
For example, you can set up your website so you recognise the status of a visitor – such as loyal, active clients versus cold prospects. By tailoring the content and experience based on the audience, you can encourage the visitor to take the most appropriate next step.
Automated email programs are incredibly useful for targeting – a welcome programme can take a cold prospect and over a series of emails, nurture them into making an active sales enquiry. And a cross-selling email program can encourage active clients to look at your other service offerings.
A bit of interactivity
Printed product brochures can be rather dry and it can be difficult to engage with a potential customer on the finer points. But digital sales aids can feature simple interactive elements such as a slider or a poll to get the reader more involved. Also, videos and demos can be integrated into digital sales aids to help explain products and services. The sales aids can be set-up as iPad or tablet apps for a slick and engaging experience. With increased involvement comes improved message retention. And of course, every click represents valuable data capture on the opinions and priorities of the audience.
A better relationship with marketing
Sales and marketing departments have a tendency to diverge and operate independently due to their different mindsets and priorities. Sales is focused on more short-term results and marketing on long-term brand reach. But digital improvements often act to bring these two functions closer together. The sales team are able to dynamically feedback and help shape the materials in use, rather than working with marketing collateral that has been developed without their input. Digital processes are more transparent, and when sales and marketing can see what each other are doing, it closes the gap between the two functions and helps them work better together.
Small steps towards transformation
Digital improvements work best when sales reps are involved as partners. They can help the analytics team decide how to evaluate solutions from a sales point of view, such as improving customer relationships. Using digital tools helps cultivate a more joined-up customer experience and supports closer collaboration between sales and marketing. The best route to digital transformation is in taking small, practical steps and building digital competencies along the way. By the law of marginal gains, these small steps can deliver significant results.
If you’d like to talk to us about making digital improvements your sales team will love, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org