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Convert and Grow Your Customers Tutorial

Developing an Integrated Digital Selling Strategy

Developing an integrated digital selling strategy simply means linking up all of your activities across multiple platforms and channels. It also means being aware of the bigger picture in terms of how all these actions tie into your overall goal or moving buyers further along the sales funnel and closer to the point of conversion.

There are a number of tools and techniques you can use to help better integrate your digital selling activities. From optimizing your campaign calendar to ensuring that your marketing messages are closely attuned to the needs of your buying sense.

In this section, we are going to examine how you can drive more sales by fine-tuning every element of your digital sales campaign.

Objectives

By the end of this section, you should be able to:

  • Discuss how to set clear, quantifiable goals and optimize your campaign calendar.

  • Explain the value of developing a story that appeals to your buyer personas

  • Discuss the importance of maintaining buyer-specific communication

  • Identify why timing or cadence is so vital when delivering digital sales campaigns

  • Describe practical ways to upsell, resell, and build brand loyalty.

  • Understand how digital selling can expand and enhance a new account.

  • Discuss ways to minimize bad publicity and reverse PR disasters.

  • Appreciate the importance of future proofing your business.

Optimizing your Campaign Calendar

In the previous sections, we considered the value of setting up a content creation calendar. Now we go to  a campaign calendar, which is used to guide your entire digital sales strategy.

In other words, we are talking about everything from marketing strategies to plotting the sale cycle for the year. When we're planning out our campaign calendar, we're thinking long-term and now typically planning up to a year in advance.

But you're still working in the short-term focusing on the task that will require the attention of the next four to six weeks.

At the end of this lesson you will be able to explain how to optimize your campaign calendar and discuss the benefits of planning ahead and optimizing your campaign calendar.

There is a common assumption that setting up a calendar is a one-off task. There is something you do at the start of the year or quarter and then return to as the year progresses to find out what tasks you should be attending to next.

However, it’s not that straight-forward. You can't just setup and forget your calendar. Rather it should be thought of as an organic guide; one whose structure change as the year progresses and as the circumstances dictate.

In other words, your calendar isn't set in stone. Seasonal trends, new starts, new products, and new competition will all cause you to adjust the strategy.

Just because you have to make amendments to your calendar as the year progresses, doesn't mean its creation was all in vain. However, a campaign calendar will prove to be an extremely helpful guide, one that will give your business focus and direction.

How to Optimize your Campaign Calendar

Optimizing your campaign calendar will call for taking a look at your goals for the coming week, month, or quarter and considering what's changed since you first plotted your strategy. Some of the ways to optimize your campaign calendar are discussed below.

Review your goals based on real-time analytics data

As the year progresses, one results you'll have at your disposal, which wasn't available at the outset is the data. Once you start to unlock the data from campaigns that have launched and completed or are in completion, you'll be able to use this information to guide your decision-making.

You can perform as much market research as you like in advance. But until you've actually debuted a new campaign or tried a new product, you can't know with absolute certainty how it will be perceived.

After completing an initial campaign or product run, you can view the analytics and can generate feedback by looking at the signals from the thousands of users who have interacted with your product.

The best testing ground for your business is the real world that the market makes up its mind about your products and services. Then, based on the insights you draw from this, refine your remaining campaigns and product launches accordingly.

Conduct monthly/quarterly campaign calendar audit

When it comes to setting up your campaign calendar, you're naturally scheduling all of the major and minor events that are due to take place in the year ahead, such as:

  • new content to be published

  • industry events to attend

  • seasonal trends to work around

  • the campaigns to be launched

  • new markets or territories that you'll be entering into and so forth

But there's something else that you should schedule into your calendar and that's the quarterly review of everything you've done for that period.

This will allow you to look back on your successes and failures and then to incorporate the lessons you've learned from these into your campaigns moving forward.

Measure your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Each campaign will have its key performance indicators (KPI) that you will have identified in advance. Your ability to hit these KPIs will be used to gauge the success of each campaign and to guide your decision making when setting goals for future campaigns.

One of the great things about digital selling is that you can assess the effectiveness of campaigns in near real-time. So although it makes sense to schedule quarterly or monthly reviews to see how you're performing, this doesn't mean that you should only check your analytics four times a year.

Performance is something you should monitor regularly making small adjustments as you go to optimize your campaigns. You should choose to gauge the success based upon:

  • Cost per click

  • Cost per thousand impressions

  • Cost per acquisition

  • Return on ad spend

  • Click through rate

  • Conversion rate

  • Average order value

There's no right or wrong answer here in terms of what you go with. The main thing is that you pick an option that suits your business model and provides the best indication of success.

Ultimately, you're looking to measure your return on investment, which is why it's important to know these various metrics factor into the equation.

As an example, you might have one campaign which results in a high number of sales but whose cost per click was also high. How does this compare with the campaign that results in fewer sales, but with a much lower cost per click?

Consider the time factor

When you're planning out your campaigns in the coming year, (however far in advance, is it practical to plan) it's important to think about timing. There are many factors which will affect your sales, including the quality of the campaign itself, whether it's targeted at the right audience and the amount of exposure it gains.

But one thing that you can't afford to ignore is timing. At an annual monthly, weekly, and even hourly level, we've previously touched upon how different products sell better at certain times of the week.

How does that payout for your business once you zoom out and weigh up public holidays, conferences, global markets, new political administrations, etc.

Timing isn't everything but it's certainly a key factor that must be considered and that's why you plan everything out in advance.

Checklist for Optimizing your Campaign Calendar

Here is a checklist for optimizing your campaign calendar.

  • Review your goals based on real-time analytics data

  • Conduct monthly/quarterly campaign calendar audit

  • Measure your key performance indicators

  • Consider the time factor

Benefits of Optimizing your Campaign Calendar

Preplanning will allow you to take into account events that you can predict, be it Christmas or annual industry conference.

These things won't change, but by having planned your campaign calendar in advance, the ability to optimize it as the year develops will allow you to respond to the sort of events that can't be predicted.

So don't think of your campaign calendar as something that can be set up and then forgotten about. Update it periodically based upon the performance of campaigns that had just been completed as well as new market information that has come to light.

Use your calendar as a guide rather than a bible, and that way you'll be well placed to capitalize on whatever opportunities come your way.

Tailoring your Message to suit the Buyer Persona

If your message is to resonate with your target buyers, it needs to be tailored to address their needs. This means putting yourself in the customer's situation and considering the sort of information and content that would be of help to them.

Putting the customer first doesn't mean sacrificing your own business goal to do whatever it takes to please them. Instead, it means basing your strategy on the need, desires, and concerns of your target buyers.

We spend a lot of time examining buyer personas. By now you've gained an appreciation for them on their value when it comes to designing and delivering your marketing messages.

The aim here is to try and see things from the customer's perspective. Put yourself in their shoes.

Imagine that you are shopping the sort of products you offer, what are you looking for? Is it the price, quality, performance, after sales service, longevity or style?

Now think about the sort of products that would meet the needs of that customer.

Why is it Essential to Put Your Customers First?

It's important to answer this as truthfully as possible because the customer owes no loyalty to you. They go to wherever they can get the best deal and that just doesn't come down to price. As we've already learned, content planning involves trying to answer the sort of questions that customers might have. Content planning also involves providing the sort of information that will help them and move them further along the sales funnel.

So let's consider some ways in which you can tailor your message to suit your buyer personas.

Check on your Competition

One thing you can do is consider the competition. Go take a look at what your rivals are doing. Don't hold back because you can bet that they're doing the same with you. Consider the following things:

  • What are your competitors doing?

  • What types of content seem to be getting the most traction in your industry?

  • Which posts are getting a lot of engagement and sparking a lot of comments and shares?

Checking out the competition doesn't mean shamelessly copying. But if your research clearly shows that to be a certain topic that there's a lot of demand for, has something you should definitely look into.

Ask your target buyers directly

The next thing you could do is ask your audience. Instead of trying to guess what your target buyers are seeking, why not ask them outright. The chances are you've already built up an audience on your blog, social channels, or mailing list.

All of these people have engaged with your brand on at least one occasion and some of them will readily give their opinion when asked. If there's one thing that people like is being invited to speak their mind.

It's very easy to operate a survey on your blog seeking information on the sort of content readers are after or topics that like addressed.

You can do the same with twitter polls which are a very easy way to solicit feedback. It can be used to gather valuable information on what your audience is looking for. It doesn't even have to be as formal as a survey.

Something as simple as putting a question in your blog or newsletter can be enough to get a response. You don't have to try and incorporate the wishes of every reader. You can't please everyone, after all.

But if all the evidence is pointing towards that being a keen demand for a particular subject, that's where you focus your efforts.

Map Content to Buyer Journey

Looking at things from the customer's perspective and even asking those customers what they're looking for, can provide you with useful knowledge that will shape your content creation strategy.

But one thing that you won't find from all this research is how to move these leads along the funnel. Your customers are not going to come back to you and say that they are looking for content that will make them likelier to purchase from you. It doesn't work like that.

So what you're looking to do is find a way of tying their goals with yours.  . This includes a way to help the customers whilst gaining their trust and making them more receptive to buying. You're looking to map your content to the buyer journey.

Research What your Customers Want

Another tip you could try when researching what you're buying personas are looking for is to take a look at questions and answer sites like Quora. Here you should be able to find a selection of the sort of questions that people in your industry are asking.

This is a practical way of discovering the type of queries that buyers have, and then creating content that addresses those concerns.

Examine how your Buyers Consume Content

When you were developing your buyer personas and examining such things as their demographic makeup, you should have also examined how they consume content.

If you haven't already done so, do it now, because this will be crucial to everything you create from now on. If you're planning to create white papers, webinars, and long reads, but your target buyers are millennials, you consume video that's something you want to sort.

If your target audience is typically found on LinkedIn, then publish on LinkedIn. If they're on Instagram, devise colorful visual content that will work well on Instagram.

Revisit your Buyer Persona to Envision Issues

If you deeply researched your buyer personas, you should already have a good idea of their browsing and content consumption habits.

It's worth looking back over the personas you developed and refreshing your memory so you can really get into the mindset of these individuals and try to envision the sort of issues they're trying to solve.

Importance of Segmentation

If you're in B2B, those personas will probably be tied to certain departments, such as IT, Finance or Management. In B2C, these personas can literally be more personal and can cover specific demographic data regarding age brackets, interests, gender, and location.

In B2B, the personas will be less specific. They'll still define a certain customer-type based on the industry, seniority, purchasing power, market knowledge, and so on.

You know that you have multiple buyer types, and you also know that your various buyers will be at different stages on their journey. That's why you create segmentation because a one size fits all doesn't cut it.

In fact, not only does it not cut it, but it's, inefficient and to reduce your potential revenue.

Need for Segmentation

Tailoring your message to suit your buyer personas cause for sending out targeted messages that reach these groups:

  • on the channels they use

  • in the format they like

  • which answers questions they have

Awareness stage

Remember, the buyer starts out at the awareness stage, where they realize they have a problem that needs a solution and start hunting around for solutions.

Consideration stage

Next comes the consideration stage, where they weigh up their options.

Decision stage

It is the critical point on which they pick a solution and go with it.

We're privileged to live in a time when we have access to so much analytical information and so many digital tools.

Get to know your buyer personas, and pretty soon, creating content for them becomes second nature.

How to Engage with Buyer Personas to Drive Sales

To engage with your target buyers, you need to find a way to forge a connection with them, one that will enable you to develop a lasting and productive relationship. Successful selling involves tapping into certain emotions and desires.

If your buyer personas are engaging with you, they should at least be open to the idea of buying from you. At this point, it is up to you to put in the required work to close the deal, leveraging that engagement and using it to ease your prospects closer to making a purchase.

At the end of this section, you will be able to appreciate the importance of maintaining buyer specific communication, explain how to engage your buyer personas, and define key performance indicators

So you've researched your buyer personas. You've learned where they're from, who they are, and what they're looking for.

You have also created bespoke content, having tailored it to suit these personas and to meet them precisely where they are in their buying journey. In other words, you have done everything right up till now, and have successfully moved new leads closer to becoming customers.

Now there's just one final stage to master, one which has the potential to really drive sales and that’s engaging with your buyer personas.

Have you ever switched on the radio or picked up a magazine and the message you've heard has hit home and really tapped into something you feel strongly about. Every now and then your hear or read something that resonates powerfully and leaves you nodding your head in agreement even though there's no one else around.

That's what happens when someone creates content that hits home and leaves a lasting impression. If you could do the same with your content and actually engage with your buyers that's how you draw sales.

So how do you engage with your personas? How'd you get them to read, share, and like something and in the process give off this sort of signal that they say “I'm ready to buy.”

Engaging with your Buyer Personas Example

Let's consider a typical campaign for a travel operator. To simplify the process, we limit ourselves to two types of buyers:

  • those who buy last-minute and close the time of departure

  • those who pre-plan their vacation and would like to have it booked well in advance

Advanced Buyers

In this latter group, we've got people who like to book their summer vacation after six months in advance. This will include families with children who can't afford to leave it late to book as they have less flexibility on account of the school term dates.

As a travel operator, you might decide to target these families with campaigns delivered around Christmas time or Easter.

Engaging Techniques

Some of the engaging techniques could be:

  • Emphasize the resort comfort, discount for families, child-friendly activities

  • Promote countries where favorable currency exchange will allow them to get more for their money

  • Touch upon the anticipation and excitement as all part of the build-up to an eagerly-awaited holiday.

Last-minute buyers

There are buyers later in the year or even at the last minute who also want to perceive that they're getting value for money, but they may not have the time to check this. This group may well be looking for holidays on their phones, lunchtime, on a Friday afternoon, or a Sunday evening on the sofa with their laptop.

It's obvious that these two buyer personas need to be reached in different ways, not only in terms of the timing of the campaigns, but also the tone of the messages and potentially the platforms and channels at which this content is delivered.

You do this by talking to your personas, depending on the size of your company, this might be as simple as giving them a phone or an email to see whether you can be of any help. You already know that these people are mulling over possible purchase.

If they're going to take you up on your offer of assistance, it will happen now. But what if your leads numbers into the hundreds or thousands?

In most cases, your business model won't permit you to reach out to each buyer in turn and to tailor your message just for them. Instead, you'll have to settle presenting targeted marketing messages to those buyer persona types.

This is where email automation can really make a difference allowing you to zero in on prospects who are looking to buy and to elicit a response from you.

Using Email Automation

According to one report, segmented emails have a 15% higher open rate which instantly improves your chances of engaging with these personas. And if you can get them to click and read those emails, you can get them to engage further.

Ask questions in your emails, find out what your buyers are looking for and encourage them to get in touch by email, on social media, or over the phone to find out more.

Make yourself available to these prospects and be willing to help them with whatever problem they are trying to solve. Earlier we learned about email automation and talked about what a powerful tool it is.

In case you needed any more proof as to the power of this sales technique, it has been reported that targeted emails generate 18 times more revenue than broadcast emails and is believed to account for 30% of overall email revenue.

So to engage with your buyers, get specific, create content based on:

  • the exact stage of your buyers in the sales process

  • on the web pages they have visited

  • on the emails that they've opened

  • on the resources that they've downloaded

Put all this information together and suddenly you've got a very clear picture of where your prospects are out and what they're looking for.

Offering Incentives

Another way of getting these hot prospects to convert into sales is by offering them an incentive, just enough of an enticement to persuade them to sign up. Whether it's for a free month's trial or discounted introductory offer.

You don't have to cheapen your entire brand in your eagerness to seal the deal. You simply need to do just enough to get your buyer personas to make the ultimate form of engaging with your product.

Encouraging Prospects to Contact you Directly

With your business, what does the prospect have to do to become a customer?

Do they have to book a live chat, request a free demo, schedule a phone call, set up a subscription, or download a piece of software?

Whatever that thing is, make it easy for them to do so with a clear and compelling Call to Action and a strong value proposition. By value proposition we mean, make it very clear to the buyer what the benefits are.

If your business specializes in SAS, for example, don't focus on the software itself. Focus on the time they would free up and the administrative burden that will be relieved off once they install it.

Defining Key Performance Indicators

How do you know when you're successfully engaging with your buyer personas?

Is it done by measuring the effectiveness of your efforts using KPIs? KPIs are a means of measuring key business objectives.

KPIs come work at many stages in the buying process, from initially getting the customers interest, to getting them to engage with your content and taking various steps that lead them closer to purchasing.

The KPIs you choose to set as benchmarks will depend on the nature of your business. Engagement contains many forms and it's up to you to decide which of these interactions is most valuable to your brand.

Ultimately, it's the sale you're chasing, but a customer becoming a free subscriber, for instance, is something you might choose to assign a value to you because it grows your user base and provides a prime opportunity to upsell these customers to your paid model.

When choosing which KPIs you wish to monitor, bear in mind that you might want to make some of them time sensitive. You might find that a customer who completes a specific goal within a week of engaging with your brand, proves to be far more valuable than one who takes a month to do so.

It's worth giving some effort then to the value you wish to assign to each of your KPIs.

The benefits of conducting this exercise and mapping out these benchmarks are that once you've done so, you can ask yourself, what can I do to achieve this particular outcome? What can I do to influence the decision that my buyer personas take next?

Metrics

There are various customer metrics that you might choose to take into account, such as customer lifetime value, which is the value your business gains from developing a long-term relationship with that customer.

For example, it might cost you ten dollars in Adwords to attract a customer who spends only eight dollars. But if you decide that each new customer, on average is worth thirty dollars, given that a proportion of them will buy from you again, you might conclude that investment is worth one.

You could also look at customer acquisition costs, which is the total cost spent on acquiring customers during that period divided by the number of customers you attracted during that particular time frame.

Other KPIs you might examine include customer satisfaction and retention or even something as simple as the total number of customers. KPIs might also include reaching a certain amount of new customers or subscribers for that calendar month.

So how do you engage with buyer personas to drive sales? It is done:

  • by reaching out to them with highly targeted messages

  • by using automation to further engage with those target buyers

  • by encouraging them to contact you directly to find out more

Do this while measuring KPIs and you should be able to see for yourself the benefits of this engagement in the form of measurable benchmarks that add value to your business.

Managing your Digital Sales Campaign

You've heard of the phrase “Timing is everything”, and that really holds true when it comes to digital sales. Cadence simply refers to the flow or the timing of your digital self-campaign. If everything is set up properly, the buyer journey should progress naturally.

And the cadence that underpins your campaigns would gently lead the buyer to where they need to go next. In this section, we'll take a look at the timing and the pivotal role it plays in your digital sales campaign.

We're spoken repeatedly about how the secrets making the sale is getting the right content to the right people at the right time. In this lesson, we're going to examine this in more detail as we discussed cadence.

The question you need to resolve is when is the right time to try and close that sale?

Go for the kill too early, and you are driving the customers away. Go for it too late, and you'll have lost them to your competitors.

When it Comes to Digital Sales, Timing is Everything

If you think about a calendar, it is divided into days, weeks, and months of the year, and each of these periods has its own even flow, with high points and low points.

It's the same story with the sales cycle, which has peaks and troughs based on seasonality, based on the fiscal year and also based on the days of the week.

For example, if you are in B2B, it may be the case that most of your sales come in April when IT departments  and managers are in a position to spend. Or if you're in B2C and operating an e-commerce store, you may find that most of your sales count on Friday afternoon, when people tend to be working less and browsing more.

Identifying the Sales Period

Once you've identified these periods, when sales are more likely to occur, you can target your marketing messages accordingly by reaching out to your customers and sending them content that will compel them to buy.

It doesn't matter how enticing your marketing message is if it arrived just after the customers bought elsewhere or lost interest is going to be in vain.

So it's extremely important that you do everything you can do to serve content that arises at the right time, in keeping with the cadence of the sales cycle for your industry.

Managing your Digital Sales Campaign

Here are some best practices to consider when it comes to managing your digital sales campaigns.

Set objectives

What are you trying to achieve for your activities - rapid sales growth, custom engagement, or brand awareness?

Set targets for each objective

You'll likely have more than one objective. But there's usually a primary goal in place. This could be generating more conversions, increasing page views by 20%, or getting 10% more engagement than your previous campaign.

Established segments that you want to target

The questions to be considered here are:

  • What groups are you trying to reach?

  • What are their lifestyle and interests?

  • Where are they most likely to see your messages?

Choose KPIs

Choose near-term quantifiable metrics that you want to track. Are they realistic? Are they beneficial for your business overall.

These KPIs would include:

  • Spend per customer

  • Cost of new customer acquisition

  • Number of views

  • Conversion rate

Use analytics

Use analytics to enhance your understanding of customer behavior. There are specific tools to use for each type of channel. For example, with your own website, you might use:

  • Google Analytics

  • SEMrush

  • Moz

  • Hubspot or

  • Webtrends

For social media, you might try:

  • Simply Measured

  • Social Bakers

  • Falcon Social or

  • Hootsuite

How do you know when the time is right to seek that sell? Well, the simplest way is to look at your analytics. All the information is right there, revealing when your customers click, read and buy.

Focus on Analytics

If you find that your news gets the best response on a Monday morning when people are reading them on their way to work. That's what you go with. If you find that evenings or early afternoons are more effective, focus on these times.

Conventional wisdom holds that in B2B, big decisions are made on a Monday. Is that true or is it a myth?

Only you can say but it shouldn't be hard to find out by looking at your analytics.

What about your social media analytics?

They show that engagement is particularly low at certain times such as weekends. You might conclude there's little point in posting content then.

On the other hand, you're noticed times when your post gets a lot of shares and views which indicates that this is the period when your target audience is online and consuming content.

These are clear times you'll want to focus on, whether we're talking times of day, times of the week, or times of the year.

What are your target buyers more likely to be doing on the way to work, checking their email, browsing Facebook, or LinkedIn?

Knowing the answers to these sort of questions will directly influence the time when you release your best content and when you really go for the sale.

Thankfully, here are some trends that you can always predict even without needing to look at your analytics for confirmation.

For example, there are a very few businesses that are likely to be selling much in the week leading up to Christmas. If your business involves selling supplements to gyms and fitness centers, you know that the first week of the year is when everyone's going to be fired up and motivated for getting into shape.

You would factor that anticipated demand for supplements during this period into your sales campaigns and try to set as much as possible to dooms in the weeks leading up to this crucial period.

Length of the Sales Cycle

When you're planning your sales campaigns, one thing that you want to consider is the length of your sales cycle. In other words, how long does it take from the moment a prospect first expressed interest in your brand to then actually making a purchase.

It's not uncommon, especially in B2B, for the sales cycle to quite long say 3 months or more. If that's the case and you know that most of your sales are generated in April, then January is when you start nurturing these leads.

And if your content needs to start reaching these prospects in January, then you need to have it ready in December. It means mapping it out in advance using your digital sales calendar, which is something we've previously looked at.

It means the proprietary work may need to be laid as far back as September or October. Once you've got a feel for how, when, and why your customers buy, all of this stuff will come naturally. But if you are in new business and you don't have any existing data, we'll take a little patience and a little trial and error before it clicks.

And you start to really get a feel for when your customers buy and when you should be reaching out to them with the targeted marketing messages.

Timing is a sales skill that's often underrated but is one which plays a crucial role in determining whether or not you make the sale. The good thing is, timing isn't a matter of luck or good judgment.

All the clues that you need are right there in:

  • the Analytics

  • your social media metrics and

  • the data available to you in your Digital Sales Hub

Whatever platform you are using, it should be relatively simple to spot the patterns that define the sales cycle in your industry.

There'll be long trends and short trends, but all of these trends feed to one another. If you can synchronize with them and serve up the right content at the right time, you'll be able to increase your buyer engagement and maximize revenue.

Key Points to Remember

Some of the key points that are covered so far are listed below.

  • Update your calendar regularly to reflect seasonal trends, new staff, new products, and new competition.

  • Use the data form completed campaigns to guide your decision-making when it comes to launching new ones.

  • Conduct a monthly or quarterly campaign calendar audit.

  • Use KPIs to gauge the success of each campaign.

  • Sending targeted marketing messages to your buyer personas will increase engagement and make them likelier to buy from your brand.

  • Email automation is a powerful tool for reaching out to target buyers and sending them the right message at the right time.

  • Targeted discounting and personalized incentives will help to drive sales.

  • Use KPIs to determine the success of campaigns directed towards your target buyers

  • Understanding the cadence of the sales cycle will enable you to approach buyers at the right time.

  • When managing your digital sales campaigns, set KPIs that will allow you to measure their success.

  • Good timing means knowing when to ask for the sale based on buyer’s behavior which provides clues that they are ready to buy.

Digital Selling Beyond Customer Acquisition

Most of the content we covered in this tutorial has been focused around nurturing prospects with the ultimate goal of converting them into customers. Despite this being the goal of any lead nurturing campaign, your work is incomplete when that sale has been closed.

What happens next, beyond the initial customer acquisition, they can add real value to your business as you look to build a lasting customer relationship (lifelong relationships in some cases).

In the final section of this tutorial, you'll learn why concluding the sale is only the beginning and how you can make the most of the opportunities you now have to upsell and resell.

We will also consider ways that you could aid customer attention, and what to do when disaster strikes and you find yourself the subjects or bad publicity.

Importance of Developing Customer Relationships

If you're of the opinion that your work ends the moment the customer converts, you're missing out on a huge chunk of revenue that has the potential to draw anything you could make and the initial sale.

We're talking about a lifetime's worth of business that is yours to enjoy if you can nurture that customer and build up loyalty.

This includes the added revenue that comes from upselling or reselling, plus the additional revenue streams that can come from referrals brought about by that customer.

It's far easier and more cost effective to get an existing customer to buy from you again than it is to attract a new one from scratch.

Beyond Closing a Sale

So you successfully generated a lead, nurtured it, converted that prospect into a paying customer and closed the sale.

Now you can relax and give yourself a pat and the back, right?

Not yet. This is only the beginning. Converting leads into customers is a huge step, one which adds tangible value to your business in the form of income. Income is a metric whose value everyone can agree on.

You can estimate the value of customer acquisition. But there's no estimation required to work out how much revenue each new cell brings to your business.

Importance of Developing Strong Customer Relationship

Developing customer relationships is hugely important because these customers are the lifeblood of your business.

Neglect them, and they neglect you, nurture them and they repay you over the years to come as they come to allow you to fulfill specific needs, time and time again.

The best thing is that if you can really strengthen the bond between you and the customer when they need to buy again, they are not going to shop around like they did in the first place. They're going to come straight to you.

Importance of Developing Strong Customer Relationship

There's a reason why B2B buyers are wary when they're first courting your business and sounding it out as a possible solution provided for their problem.

If the buyer chooses wrongly, not only have they wasted time and money, but they've inconvenienced their company. They've made a decision which reflects poorly and their judgment, one which calls into question their ability to perform their job.

So it's natural that B2B purchasers should initially be wary about buying from a company they've never dealt with before.

But once they've made that commitment, and the product has lived up to their expectations, it's far easier to renew or rebuy than it is to start shopping around elsewhere and entering into a new contract with a new supplier.

Focus on Customer Feedback

Customer feedback is something which works both ways. and the one hand, if the customer hasn't had a good experience in terms of the service they received, or if the product has failed to live up to their expectations, a negative review can do a lot of damage.

This isn't just limited to an actual review they might compose online, but includes their conversations with friends, family, and work colleagues. If you can follow up and customers, you've sold to and can engage with them further, you can address any concerns they have.

And if they've had a negative experience, you can take steps to remedy that. So engaging with customers who are unlikely to buy from you again is as important as engaging with customers who are.

In both cases, the results of your intervention will increase the likelihood of your brand being perceived favorably and benefit from word of mouth recommendations. It also increases the likelihood that the customer will return to you again.

Increased Customer Base

There's also another customer group that falls somewhere in between. They don't hate your brand, but they're not revving about it either.

There are customers who bought from you once and then forgot about you. Whatever you do, don't forget about them. There's no reason why these silent customers can't buy from you again.

But for that to happen, you need to be the one to initiate contact. Remind them that you're still here and still willing and able to help them.

So maintaining customer support and building customer relationships can be thought of as an ongoing process, which yields tangible results.

This isn't some sort of abstract exercise, which might one day provide a return. This is a sort of activity which makes a real difference to the health of your business.

It limits the sort of negative sentiments that can appear and social media and review sites. It increases the likelihood of positive reviews that will have a knock-on effect, helping you pick up more business in addition to upselling and cross-selling.

Opportunity for Upselling, Cross-selling, and Reselling

You'll already be familiar with the concept of upselling, cross-selling, and reselling, interesting your existing customers in other products and services you offer.

Just because the customers bought from you once doesn't mean they suddenly sold and your services and move and to buy everything you put your name to. It doesn't work like that.

Rather upselling and cross-selling is something that you nurture just like you nurture that customer in the first place before they ever bought from you.

For instance, you probably wouldn't try to upsell a customer to a higher subscription tier within days of them signing up.

First, you wait for them to enjoy the features and benefits at their current level before introducing them to the additional features they can enjoy when they level up.

So with reselling and up-selling, we're back to focusing and delivering content to the customer at the right time. It depends and how you pick their interest and provide them with a solution as they're starting to outgrow the current one you've provided them with.

Or in the cases of cross-selling, once the customer has tried your product and come to appreciate, what you can do. That's when they're likely to be willing to consider other products you've put your name to.

When you focus and your customers and put their needs first, you both benefit. When it comes to making a purchase, peer recommendations are hugely influential.

If you think about it, when you're going to buy a new laptop or a phone, you probably ask a friend who owns that model for their impression of it.

If they're singing its praises, you're almost certainly going to buy that product because you value their word more than that of some random internet reviewer.

Increasing Loyalty through Brand Advocates

Some of your customers won't just like what you do, they will love it. These are your brand advocates and they have the power to bring in huge amounts of referral business.

Thes customers have already been extremely passionate about your products. If you can introduce an advocate marketing program, these individuals could get more than simply the satisfaction of knowing that they've helped others.

They can reap a tangible reward for having done so and will be incentivized to redouble their efforts.

Using your CRM system is easy to identify your most engaged customers. From there, it's a short step to send them an email requesting that they leave an online review or recommend you to another person.

As a goodwill gesture, offer them something in return. It may be a discount voucher, a sneak peek, or a new product, or even simply a heartfelt thank you as a first step toward developing a brand advocacy scheme.

From the customers who follow up and your suggestion and help to spread the word, you can then take things further and consider inviting them to join a referral program.

Once that happens and you start to develop a network of brand advocates, all working and your behalf, your business will really start to prosper.

And it all stands from nurturing your customers and paying them attention. Do that and then watch your business grow.

Using Digital Selling to Aid Customer Expansion

We spent a lot of time in this tutorials, looking at how digital sales tools can be used to attract customers. Now, let's look into some of the ways in which these same tools can be used to retain them and to aid with customer expansion.

Customer expansion is an objective that can be pursued and two fronts.

  • Through retention, that is, by reselling to existing customers

  • By reaching out to attract new ones

Importance of Customer Expansion

As we established in the last lesson, building customer loyalty is the key to building a sustainable business. That's fueled by returning customers looking to buy from you.

Ideally though you don't just want to subsist and existing customers alone. Moving forward, you want to attract a steady stream of new customers, which would allow you to grow your business. Just because you've attracted a certain number of customers today doesn't mean you guarantee to do the same next month and the months after.

You still got to put in the work to attract new customers. But thankfully that's the task that gets easier as you grow and start to build up an audience that can provide social proof and which will generate positive online reviews.

Bear in mind that it is impossible to retain all of your existing customers. There's going to be a certain attrition rate, so customer expansion is also important to compensate for the inevitable drop off in your existing customer base.

Using Analytics to Identify New Opportunities

One of the most valuable resources you have is the analytical insights provided by existing customers. Using your CRM software, you can instantly see:

  • who you sold to

  • when you sold to them and

  • where the sale has come from

As your customer base grows, so will this dataset giving you a clearer picture of which channels and campaigns have proven the most effective.

If the data is showing that your customers engaged with your brand and a particular platform such as Facebook, for example, you can devise a remarketing campaign that will target them and there.

But your customers provide you with much more precise information then you can glean from social media insights. You also have that email address or the telephone number.

Provided they haven't opted out of receiving marketing messages, you can reach out to the customer directly.

This doesn't mean pestering your customers with a flood of emails, however. That's not how you develop a customer retention strategy. In fact, it's more likely to have the opposite effect.

Just as you used automation to target these individuals back when they were just prospects, you could do the same now that they are customers.

If they've purchased products such as a subscription for cloud-based storage, you can set up an automated message so that they are contacted when they've reached 80% of the available storage space.

Or if they're signed out for a one-year subscription, automation can be used to contact the customer (new at the time). Not only to remind them to renew, but also to try and up sought a higher tier.

That doesn't mean you should leave it a year to contact your customers though. Between the point of purchase and the point of renewal, there should be a number of follow up emails and other engagements to fortify your relationship with the customer with a view to increasing brand loyalty.

Customer retention is an extremely important exercise and an extremely valuable one, too. Acquiring new customs has been estimated a 7 times more expensive than returning existing ones.

Ways to Increase Customer Retention

There are a number of ways you can go about increasing custom retention.

Firstly by building brand recognition which ensures your name will be first and their lips the moment they need your product again.

Every email push notification, tweet, blog post, and status update you dispatch, serves as a gentle reminder that you're still here and still ready to supply your services the moment the customer needs them.

Your brand ambassadors are your number one fans and their recommendations and refer do more for your business than any marketing campaign.

If you can build an active, engaged, and motivated community who feel passionate about your products these ambassadors will spread the word about your brand everywhere they go.

Secondly, you can listen to your customers and get feedback and their experience of using your services such as:

  • Was the purchase seamless or were there friction points

  • has a product lived up to their expectations and if not why not

  • what could be done to improve the experience in future

One of the biggest causes of customers going elsewhere is poor customer experience. In other words, it's not the product that sucked. It is everything that came with it (the checkout process, the shipping, customer support when they tried to get in touch with a team member).

When customers feel that their complaints aren't being listened to or if it's hard for them to get hold of you, they will air those grievances elsewhere like and social media, and review sites, or to their friends and colleagues.

In addition to listening to your customers, you should aim to be genuine to them. This means giving them honest answers to questions and not making promises you can't keep.

It also means not making excuses when something goes wrong. The worst thing you can do is lie to your customer or mislead them in an effort to save face. Because if the customer finds out that they've been lied to, it will sour the relationship and you may never regain their trust or their custom.

So getting to know your customers, what they like, what they don't like, and what they'd like to see improved, is a key component of customer retention.

Listen to your customers, build brand recognition, and look at your metrics so you can actually see what your customer retention rate is.

It should be one of your KPIs (key performers indicators) which we've looked at already.

Using CRM software, you can see not only customer activity such as purchases and other engagements, but you can also track the activity of your sales teams.

You can see how often have they reached out to your customers within the last quarter and what have the results been. If your CRM is showing that customers aren't being contacted for months at a time, there is something that needs to be addressed.

On the other hand, if your CRM is showing that your sales team are reaching out to customers but your customer retention rate isn't rising, you want to take a closer look at exactly what your staff is doing?

Are they approaching customers at the wrong time?

Are they being too pushy,

Are they not being sales orientated enough leaving your customers vulnerable to being poached by your competitors?

All of the clues are there in your CRM software. We should contain a complete record of when each customer was contacted, the nature of that message, and the outcome.

Digital sales tools aren't just there to help you attract new customers. They will also help you return existing ones and to attract new customers by replicating the same methods that have worked so well in the past.

Handling Negative Customer Experiences

No matter how good your product is, or how capable your sales team are, there will be times when the level of service you provide falls below expectations.

Even if it's not your fault; because a courier has let you down, or there's a manufacturing defect that's beyond your control, it doesn't matter.

The buck stops with you. If there's a problem, it is up to you to remedy it before lasting damage is done to the customer's perception of your brand and to the market's perception, because a business stays and its reputation.

Impact of Negative Customer Feedback

Bad customer experience is a topic that has kept many a business owner open-eyed. If there's one thing that can bring down a business or seriously tarnish its reputation at least, it's a customer who has a bad experience.

Because, as you know, from your online reviews of hotels and restaurants, when a customer has a bad time, they don't keep it inside. They tell their friends, family, and the internet.

Because they basically tell the world, don't think you can simply prevent negative experiences from occurring in the first place by providing a great customer experience.

Even with the best will in the world, there'd be times when a customer has a bad experience.

Turning Negative Feedback into Positive

With the right approach, it is possible to take a negative experience and actually turn it into a positive one that reflects well and your brand.

Not only can you retain that customer but you can even attract new customers and account of the prompt and courteous way in which you went about remedying the problem.

As an example of how a negative customer experience could be reversed, consider the case from 2016 of a man who found himself stuck in the train toilet. with no toilet roll.

He tweeted his predicament to the rail service provider. They alert the guard and the train. He made his way to the toilet cubicle and the problem was solved, much to everyone’s satisfaction.

The Twitter community was so impressed with the rail company and its effort to resolve the situation that the story generated two hundred thousand views and was shared across the globe.

In the UK, rail operators tend to suffer from poor public approval ratings. In 2017, another British train company, after extensive bad press and account of strike action that disrupted its services for twelve months, decided to let a 15-year-old work experience student (Eddy) manage its Twitter feed for a few days.

The rail operator’s jaded online community loved it and Eddie became a star, thanks to his quick-witted replies. The BBC published the story and their website and Eddie was interviewed and the national news.

These are just two examples which show effective ways in which a bad customer experience can be turned into a positive one that resonates far wider than the initial complaint.

Listen carefully to customer complaints

The first thing to do is listen to the feedback that's being delivered, whether it's a disgruntled social media post or an irate email. Even if the customer has blown the problem out of proportion or reacted badly to a situation, it's unlikely that your business is completely free of blame.

So don't take it personally, but do take the complaint seriously. Accept the fault, do your best to remedy it, and then make sure it doesn't happen again.

Distance your Emotion

The customer might not always be right, but you've got nothing to gain from pointing out where they're wrong. Get into a slanging match and the only loser will be you.

It’s because this is the sort of stuff that can really damage a brand, especially when it's done and a public forum, such as Facebook or review site. So instead of lashing out, try asking questions, find out exactly what went wrong and why.

Find out what the customer's expectations were compared with the reality of the experience?

Respond Immediately

Social media never sleeps, and with disgruntled customers, never more than a twitter storm away from venting their frustrations, your customer service team needs to be able to respond in real time.

Whether you are dealing with a customer face to face or over the web, a little diplomacy can prevent a situation from getting out of hand.

Investigate the problem

If it is a complex problem, and if you don't have all the answers yet, don't rush into issuing the detailed response. Communicate and let your customers know that you're fully investigating the matter. But wait till you have gathered all the facts, and have taken onboard the negative feedback.

That way, when you issue your response, you can show that you've taken the criticism into account. And you can explain the steps you're taking to resolve the problem.

Acknowledge the issue

One crucial thing that you should never overlook is An apology. It sounds simple, but saying sorry can go a long way towards smoothing things over. An apology is good.

An apology accompanied by an explanation of what you're going to do to prevent the situation from happening again is even better.

Resolve the issue quickly and respond to the customer

You might not have the answer to hand immediately, but you can at least promise the customer that you're looking into the issue and we'll get back to them as soon as possible. Then, when the matter has been resolved, don't just draw a line under it and move on.

Every time a customer is unhappy and files a complaint, there's a lesson to be learned that not only in terms of the issue they had but also in terms of how the matter was handled.

Many companies send out short form surveys after a complaint has been filed that they used to iterate and improve and customer service.

Don't be afraid to ask the customer “Were you happy with how your complaint was handled?” showing that you value their feedback and care about making the matter right will go a long way towards regaining their trust.

Public Relations Disaster

But what about a situation that extends to more than just a few disgruntled customers? What happens when you find yourself in the midst of a full-blown crisis that threatens to become a complete public relations disaster?

Hopefully, that day will never happen. But in business, it pays to be prepared for the worst case scenario. You can't always predict the source of the disaster in advance.

But what you can do in advance there is draw up a response plan. That way, you can move quickly to quell the flanes. You need to act promptly and decisively if your reputation and possibly even your business are to survive.

Controlling Public Relations Disasters

Just like a poor customer experience with a PR crisis, the first step is:

Acknowledging the Issue

Putting up a wall of silence while you debate how to respond is the worst thing you can do, so acknowledge the problem. Take steps to contain it and then issue a frank and full response.

Have a crisis plan for social media

If the PR disaster has already started to make its way across social media or worse still into the mainstream media, you need to find ways to control the narrative.

Updating your customers and the situation via Facebook might seem like a quick way to issue your response. But bear in mind that it leaves you at the mercy of the common section and if a few customers are angry, it is easy for that emotion to spread throughout the community.

That doesn't mean you should avoid social media during a crisis. Complete silence is one of the worst things you can do. Consider responding on a platform where you can control the narrative.

That might mean posting an update and your blog, and medium, or anywhere you'll be able to get your message across without being overwhelmed by a tirade of unhappy comments and angry emojis.

There are several acknowledged ways of dealing with social media complaints.

  1. Take some time to actively listen to the person making the complaint and understand and investigate all of the circumstances surrounding it.

  2. If the complaint has publicly delivered via social media, you have the option of having it removed if it's inaccurate. and Facebook, for example, you can prevent people from posting to a company page. But very mind that locking down your page in the midst of a full-blown crisis may cause the further backlash.

  3. Demonstrate and social media that you care by regularly soliciting feedback from your customers and being open to taking community ideas and board.

  4. Social media campaigns that offer small rewards for recommending improvements to your brand, can generate goodwill. It helps to create a two-way dialogue that will make your audience feel valued and more involved.

Emphasis your Business’ Positive Record

Negative comments about your brand can be offset to a certain extent by introducing positive ones including customer reviews, testimonials, and case studies.

Positive comments and your site, social media channels, from brand advocates, or loyal supply chain partners can also help to temper some of the fierce criticism that is inevitable during times of bad publicity.

Take the opportunity to improve your business

A crisis isn't something that could be resolved overnight and trust isn't something you can restore in an instant. It takes time to rebuild your reputation. Every new product or initiative you launch moving forward needs to be thought of as starting out with zero trust.

That might be unfair and your business but that's where you've got to work from. Ask yourself, “How can I make this product more reliable?”

What solutions can I implement to show that a new system is in place and that I'm doing my utmost to prevent anything like this from happening again?

Everything you do from now and will be closely scrutinized. But there's an upside to that. If the world is watching, you have a chance to shine. How you respond to this crisis will come to define your brand.

So make the most of this pure opportunity. It is not what you wanted. But now that it's arisen, you can use a spotlight to demonstrate that you're turning things around. Act fast, be far, and even the worst experiences could be transformed from a PR disaster into a PR triumph.

The Future of Digital and Social Selling

In this final lesson, we're going to consider ways in which you could be proactive by anticipating emerging trends and technologies that have the potential to disrupt your industry.

If you're slow to spot these trends, when you do finally latch onto them, you'll be a late adapter and will be forced to play catch up.

That's when an emerging trend goes from being an opportunity to becoming a threat.

We're now reaching the end of this lesson. in the previous lessons, we've finished  looking at how to turn negative customer experiences into positive ones and a sort of steps you can take to prevent your business from falling victim to a PR disaster.

Now it's time to look ahead and discuss what you can do as a business to anticipate new threats and opportunities before they have a chance to develop

The quicker you can latch onto them, the quicker you can respond before the competition has had a chance to steal and match them.

Being proactive means anticipating merging trends and technologies that have the potential to disrupt your industry. But being proactive doesn't mean blindly chasing after the latest platform, .

Instead, it means keeping an ear to the ground, so that you know exactly what's happening in your sector and are in a primary position to seize new opportunities and to respond to emerging trends.

What sort of threats and opportunities that are we talking about? Well, let's, consider a few examples which apply to digital selling, starting with mobile.

Now mobile isn’t anything new and it's certainly not the future of digital selling, its present.

The Value of Being Alert to New Technologies

There's a reason why Google now ranks websites for page speed based on the mobile experience rather than the desktop one.

We don't need to go over the importance of optimizing your site for mobile out of making your checkout process as seamless as possible for touchscreen devices.

It's important though as a digital seller that you're well aware of how your audience is consuming content including the sort of devices they're browsing with.

There are a lot of B2B websites which are still only designed for desktop and which don't utilize a responsive design making them extremely hard to browse on touchscreen devices.

If you're working under the assumption that big purchasing decisions are likely to be made in front of a desktop computer, you could be in for a surprise.

According to one survey, 84% of B2B buyers believe that mobile is essential to their work and use it to gather key information that influences their purchasing decisions.

So if your content and marketing messages aren't designed with mobile in mind, you're already going to be shedding customers to the competition. But while we're talking about mobile, there's touch upon apps if all of your competitors have got their own mobile app shouldn't you be following suit?

Releasing your own app would show that you take mobile seriously and that you're eager for your audience to be able to shop anytime anywhere.

But there's a case for saying that the era of having an app for everything has passed. Unless you operate an e-commerce store, you might find that there's little point in repackaging everything your customers can find on your website in app form.

Ultimately, it depends on your business model. But this is just another example of why it pays to be attuned to developing consumer trends so that you're not always late to the party and wind up embracing a piece of technology, just as the rest of the world is moving and to the next big thing.

Next Big Things

Speaking of the next big things what about AI (artificial intelligence)? You probably heard about some of the ways in which AI and machine learning are threatening to transform digital sales and B2B marketing.

Within the next few years, we're going to see a move towards things such as hyper-targeted advertising driven by smart segmentation or delivered by increasingly clever CRM software.

If you're not the first business in your sector to embrace artificial intelligence, you're not in danger of becoming obsolete.

So there's no panic but at the same time, it's important to keep abreast of the latest technologies that are available so that you can use them to advantage as soon as they become practical and affordable.

After all, any system which allows you to improve the impact of your marketing messages while saving you time has got to be worth a look. So don't rush out there and acquire the first machine learning software you find.

But know your options at least and keep abreast of where the market is headed.

For example, one survey estimates that within 3 years, customers will conduct 85% of their interactions with enterprises without any form of human involvement.

This doesn't mean your entire sales team is about to become redundant, but it does mean that your business needs to be ready to adapt to an increasingly automated world, one in which computers call the shots and oversee the lead nurturing process.

You've already witnessed the rise of chatbots which businesses are starting to use to provide personalized recommendations and to engage with visitors to their website and facebook pages.

This is another example of AI in action. But there are many B2B uses that will become mainstream in the next few years. For example, lead generation will become more efficient as analytical software, powered by AI, identifies leads that have a high chance of being successfully converted.

As AI improves it will also help you make better sense of your analytics during smart insights from the data are making accurate predictions about future trends in your industry.

AI isn't a panacea that will solve all your woes and make your business future proof. But it's a technology that's going to increasingly enter into the mainstream particularly with B2B.

The increased efficiency the artificial technology can bring is substantial.

According to one report, businesses who have implemented it, have reported cost savings of between 40 and 60%.

What are the trends that are likely to emerge in your industry that will change the way you do business?

It's your job as a digital seller not only to create content but digest content that will keep you informed about developments in your sector.

Sign up for google alerts, subscribe to industry newsletters and generally make sure you're well informed and ready to capitalize on every opportunity that comes your way.

If you'd like to progress further and take your knowledge and skill set to the next level, take up courses on specialist topics such as cloud computing, big data and analytics, and digital marketing, which covers such topics as SEO, Adwords, and YouTube marketing.

Summary

Let us summarize what you learned in this lesson.

  • When a bad customer experience occurs, businesses should act fast to mitigate the damage.

  • It is important to listen carefully and demonstrate that you are doing everything in your power to remedy the situation.

  • In some cases, it is even possible to turn a negative customer experience into a positive one.

  • Have a crisis plan for social media prepared so that you are ready should anything go wrong

  • Fast and direct action can contain a PR disaster and prevent it from turning into a full-blown crisis.

  • If your business is proactive, it will be quick to anticipate emerging trends and technologies and capitalize upon them.

  • As artificial intelligence improves, it will find multiple B2B applications, particularly in the field of marketing automation.

  • Astute business leaders will keep abreast of changing customer trends and of innovations, which have the potential to disrupt their industry.

  • Technological advances will transform digital selling, but the importance of delivering personalized marketing messages won't diminish.

Conclusion

With this, we have come to an end of this lesson on Digital Selling Beyond Customer Acquisition. The next lesson focuses on Building Integrated Selling Strategy.

  • Disclaimer
  • PMP, PMI, PMBOK, CAPM, PgMP, PfMP, ACP, PBA, RMP, SP, and OPM3 are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

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