You’ll be hearing a lot more about the term “digital selling” in the coming years. It’s becoming known as the future of sales. And I don’t mean just in terms of adding some more digital tools and platforms to your current selling strategy, I’m referring to it also as an entire shift in sales ethos and strategy.
That might sound scary, but actually, once the right adjustments are made, sales can become a lot easier and (dare I say) even fun! Not to mention the better revenue return you’ll get when your effective digital selling process is now entirely focused around the buyer and their journey.
Is digital selling the future of sales? I believe so. Let me explain why:
Traditional selling just won’t cut it anymore
Did you know that cold calling, a tried and tested selling approach, now only has a 2.5% success rate? Not only is there a high emotional cost to cold call prospecting and lead generation, there’s also a high financial cost to your business. It’s usually the least efficient part of the selling cycle. The time (and resulting payroll) invested has a very low payoff relative to other parts of the sales cycle.
This is bad news especially in a business environment which is becoming increasingly competitive, and buyers have much tighter budgets.
The common issue that evolves from this is that many companies think that they can solve this problem and revolutionize the way they prospect and sell by upgrading a traditional process with new technologies, or to add an extra channel to existing ones. “Social selling”, for example, has been the buzzword over the last few years and companies have been steadily implementing it into their sales process. And don’t get me wrong, this is great! Prospects (along with everybody else) are online these days, and you’ve got to meet the buyer where they are. But as much as it evokes positivity and innovation, social selling is quite a limiting concept too.
The changes that are needed to accommodate the digital era and tougher business markets run much deeper, you need to look beyond just adding a social media strategy to support your sales. You need a more holistic approach.
Social selling is a small, albeit key component of a much more extensive approach; a modest slice of a large, delicious digital selling pie. So why limit yourself to a single slice when you can have the entire pie?
If you’re serious about achieving ultimate selling success, I believe a restructuring of your sales strategy around “digital selling” is needed.
What is digital selling?
Basically, Digital Selling involves leveraging digital assets. Although Social Selling is a component of Digital Selling, these assets don’t have to be social assets. Digital Selling includes other activities such as sales automation, online presentations, digital documents, CRM operations and more.
Digital Selling is also the bringing together of larger elements in the organization to make Digital Selling possible. It’s not just about the marketing department creating content. It involves creating an organizational structure around content, and an ecosystem to measure the content consumption of your customer. With Digital Selling, everyone is involved in creating, organizing and distribution of content. You’re creating a department that concentrates especially on creating a massive amount of content and research, working alongside sales professionals to help them in their territory.
Organizations are already creating these departments, which typically include a content marketer, SDR representative and sales executive, who act as one business unit within the larger organization. They are focused on creating specific content for a specific audience in a specific territory, rather than marketing on a massive scale. Together, the content marketer helps create the story, the SDR uses that content to open up new relationships, and the sales executive works to close the deal. Together, the team is measuring the digital footprints of the buyer, tracking content consumption as a trigger for buying engagement.
Utilizing digital tools and techniques ultimately helps to speed up the ‘long game’ that comes along with subtle social selling, and helps target the most relevant prospects with lead generation tools, treat them as professional individuals by researching their online profiles, subtly earn their trust and favor with helpful content, and quickly access their work email and number with automation tools or services.
But this all sounds kind of expensive, right? In fact, investing in these tools can make you a lot more money in the long run if matched with a “customer centric” sales approach. Building trusting bonds with prospects has proved to be much more effective than cold calling, and is most likely to lead to loyal, returning customers! And as you may have heard – it’s 5x more expensive to acquire new customers than to retain existing ones.
Don’t be afraid of change
For many sales managers it feels like standing at the edge of a cliff, unable and unwilling to make the leap. Which can be understandable, it feels a lot safer to stick with the sales process you know and which has always worked for your business.
But you don’t have to trust me to tell you that your current sales practices may be doomed. It has been estimated that by 2017, digital advertising will overtake TV advertising for the first time ever. The customer has always determined where the journey of sales is headed. And today, they are online.
Adjusting each stage of your sales and marketing practices around digital selling will create a more efficient, effective process that will accelerate your pipeline as well as the entire sales cycle. Better for the buyer because they’ll feel more informed and treated as an individual, and better for the sales person because more of their time will be spent on nurturing quality leads in a more subtle, effective way which will bring in more revenue in the long run.
I’m not going to tell you that changing your company’s sales practices is going to be easy. It’s not a walk in the park. It requires time and effort. But once sales manager adjust their strategies and tools to the current business climate, they are sure to start reaping the benefits for their business. Staying in your old ways is like maintaining a bad habit, one that you plan to correct…one day. It’s like eating Mac Donald’s for lunch every day. The health food store is right next door, and you want to shift the belly you’re carrying. You know healthy food will benefit your body in the long run. But then again, you’re use to eating Mac Donald’s.
This is a mind frame that business managers must overcome. Companies need to stop putting off their plan to move their business strategy online. Digital selling is the key to success. Strategically, there is no alternative: Sales processes must go digital. It is no longer a choice in the business world, it is quickly becoming a necessity. One that ultimately determines if a company sinks or swims.