There’s been a dramatic shift taking place in sales organizations over the last several years, and it’s finally reaching a fevered pitch. That shift is the inevitable transition to digital selling: leveraging digital and social tools to shorten sales cycles and streamline the buying process for customers who demand so much these days. Companies have used the Internet, CRM tools, and email campaigns for some time, but now social networks, social selling tools and business intelligence have created the perfect storm for digital selling.
The field is growing fast, with 63 percent of sales professionals reporting that social and digital selling is becoming vital for closing new deals. And it works so well because consumers are finally getting useful and relevant support at every stage of the sales cycle as they consider purchasing a product or service. Here are five key reasons why digital selling is thriving:
1. You Get a Personalized Look at Your Customer
One thing that has made digital selling a success is big data analytics. Predictive analytics packages help marketing and sales teams hone in on buyer behavior to craft content and campaigns that match audience preferences–without having to conduct traditional customer research. Sales intelligence gives you keen insights into customer personas and helps you get to know them on an intimate level, in many cases even before they are thinking of making a purchase (isn’t that novel!) And customers are looking to be impressed: 78 percent expect sales teams to personalize interactions based on their online activities.
One EY report further illustrated the benefits of getting to know your customers intimately. After a 30-day experiment where sales teams ‘lived the life’ of the customer from a sales perspective and built new initiatives on their findings, they experienced a 46 percent spike in new client acquisitions and a 67 percent increase in revenues.
2. You’ll Learn to Anticipate Demand
Once you have insights into customer preferences, you can begin to anticipate their needs and develop marketing and social media-driven content to lay the foundation for further interactions. In the new digital selling world, buyers are empowered to research products and services through a multitude of digital channels. In fact, 77 percent of B2B buyers said they did not talk with a salesperson until after they had performed independent research. So it falls to sales and marketing teams to stock the digital shelves with appropriate and compelling content that drives the sale. Doing so speeds consumers through the sales funnel and does it cost-effectively (self-service research shortens sales cycles, uses fewer resources up front and allows you to focus on conversion and close).
3. Social Selling Is the Icing on the Cake
Social media is also hitting its stride as a foundation for successful sales. An IDC study found that 75 percent of B2B buyers and 84 percent of C-level or vice-president level executives use social media to make purchasing decisions. Sales reps are increasingly working with the marketing and content development teams to create blog posts, reports, infographics and other interesting content that can be shared virally on social networks like LinkedIn. Since they can track the success of clicks, re-tweets, and downloads, it helps them be mindful of what works to improve their creative process. And social tactics aid the sales process as well: sales reps that use social media have a 3.6 times better chance of meeting a decision maker.
4. Driven by Data, You Get Better Results
Data-driven thinking is what’s behind digital selling–before, during and after the sale. Much like big data is used to slice and dice customer information and preferences, digital selling leverages as much data as possible to keep messaging tight and ensure that programs keep pace with customer demand. Most CRM products (which online training leader Simplilearn cites are either impactful or very impactful by 64 percent of sales teams) are built to measure the results of campaigns. You establish a benchmark, run the data on how much more success you can expect with program modifications, and keep raising the bar. For sales, it pays off. The EY report shows that digital-selling companies are 5.7 times more likely to secure prospect meetings and hit 150 percent of their quotas on average.
5. Digital Selling Makes It a Group Effort
Selling used to be a one-way street, where activity progressed from the product team to marketing to sales to the customer. Now collaboration happens every step of the way. Product teams know how to make better products by listening to customers and marketers. Marketers work hand-in-hand with sales to generate the right types of content and campaigns based on data (it’s no longer a hunch: you don’t just throw campaigns over the wall and hope they work). And finally, customers participate by pursuing and digesting content that tells you the best way to engage them.
The great part about digital selling is that it just keeps getting better. The more you use readily available data, the better you can target prospects and customers with things they really want. Digital selling is setting the tone for customer-focused sales organizations everywhere.