In recent years, there has been a lot of buzz around digital and social selling. Businesses that embrace this emerging field realize the significant impact it has on the traditional perceptions of selling roles and processes. What was historically a rigid and inflexible business process has transformed into something far more dynamic for sales and marketing professionals. 

Digital selling leverages social media, analytical tools, and a collaborative mindset to create a seamless connection between sales, marketing, and customers. It has changed the way companies engage their customer base, resulting in an enormous potential for sales and marketing professionals everywhere. Here’s a quick overview of the traditional sales model of many product companies and four distinguishing characteristics of the new digital selling methodology.

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Selling Old School

Unless you’re a pretty progressive organization, the process was usually one-directional: marketing passes on campaigns, content and leads, and sales just makes the most of it, an outdated sales model that was rife with inefficiencies. Marketing built prospect lists but often failed to validate their target accuracy (if there was any). Sales teams mostly did their own prospecting and lead nurturing, which was work-intensive and inefficient on any large scale. 

According to a Salesforce study, 70 percent of sales professionals cite high-value messages as a top driver of winning deals, while 57 percent cite high-quality content a key driver. And yet, this one-way street from marketing to sales meant that neither messaging nor content was sufficiently refined for each sales rep’s (and each customer’s) unique needs. It was a struggle to nurture customer relationships without the proper tools, and a lack of insight into customer behavior made it difficult to build an effective sales approach.

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Digital Selling Comes of Age

Sales and marketing teams now leverage digital tools to engage consumers more effectively, empower customer-driven information gathering and streamline the buying process for increasingly demanding customers. Social selling tools, social networks, predictive analytics and other big data solutions are all driving this new versatile approach to selling in the digital world.

What sets it apart from the old model?

Social Selling Is at Its Core

Marketing through social networks is the new frontier for organizations that want to keep their brand and campaigns fresh. Over 72 percent of salespeople using social selling as part of their sales process outperformed their sales peers and exceeded quota 23 percent more often. On social media, consumers receive constant touches on new product features or releases and new trends in their industry, and they have easy access to reviewing any details of products they want, even before they may have considered buying a product. More exposure and awareness leads to a faster introduction to the sales cycle and a shorter path to close. Increased interaction on social media speeds interaction, nurturing, and decision making.

It Connects Marketing and Sales

While traditional selling models generally go one direction (i.e. marketing to sales), digital selling leverages the interaction of marketing and sales teams to create a more collaborative selling environment. Sales teams take a higher interest in influencing the kind of reports and blog posts that they can share with their social networks to drive interest and awareness. Over 84 percent of social sellers use LinkedIn to engage customers and prospects, and almost 50 percent use Twitter. Now marketing doesn’t have to guess at what content resonates: sales teams, social and CRM metrics, and customers themselves will tell them, and most of the feedback is close to real-time.

It’s Engaging and Gives Prospects What They Want

Thanks to the reach of social media, it’s becoming much easier to engage with consumers on a scale never before seen. Sales teams now have a direct link to prospects and customers, giving them the power to direct different forms of product or thought-leadership content as they see fit. It gives the seller the ability to conduct one-to-one marketing on a grand scale, and continually track success in real-time. These days, buyers are already 57 percent through the purchase process before sales professionals even speak to them. They are open to conducting their own research online and in social media, reading reviews, pitches, and opinions to keep them warm until the digital seller even swoops in.

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It’s Data-driven

Data now drives a wide range of marketing functions, thanks to tools like predictive analytics and data science techniques that take the hard work out of uncovering buying behavior. Marketing and sales teams are now armed with tools to evaluate the digital footprint of consumers and tailor dynamic content that is sure to resonate with each particular audience. The more you know about your customers, the better you can sell.

No matter how you slice it, the digital selling environment of today’s sales and marketing organizations is far more potent than even a few years ago. Digital selling leverages evolving attitudes about social media, both from a sales and customer standpoint, and makes the most use of data, digital sales productivity tools and better synergy between marketing and sales. 

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