At a time where company’s best-laid digital transformation plans have had to be torn up and re-written, CIOs and CTOs are having to make tough decisions
Geoff Webb is vice president of strategy at PROS. PROS creates personalized selling solutions with proven AI to help you best respond to your customers. The result? Happy customers! Plus, an almost immediate increase in win rates and revenue. Featured image: ©Sergey Nivens
For many businesses, income is reduced and there have been cut-backs on non-essential spending. But failing to invest in technology would be detrimental in the long run. So, what’s the secret to successful digital transformation? It begins with changing how you sell.
It’s the only way to evolve your organisation so that it drives meaningful, positive change quickly enough. And transforming your sales process as a priority, so that more products are accessible through digital
channels is where you will gain the most value today. In fact, this is what your customers are now expecting. COVID-19 has accelerated the trend of buying goods and services online, since face-to-face interaction is not available. And there is no turning back. Brands have no other option but to embrace ecommerce and digital selling if they want to retain their customers.
This digital trend has been accelerated because neither the buyer nor the seller has a choice, and it’s a simple truth that brands ignore customer behaviour at their peril. Ultimately, what customers want, and
expect from vendors has changed, at times in unpredictable ways.
Tech-driven productivityWhen lockdown first began, some large companies were worried that without sales teams on the road productivity would decrease. But the opposite has happened and this is due to technology supporting this
shift to online, digital selling. It is those who have invested heavily in tech that are reaping the most
Countless digital transformation projects have failed because they target the easy stuff or they are too inward-facing; plastering on tech to existing infrastructure. That’s not to say it’s pointless, but that tinkering
with tech alone won’t generate a great deal of business value if it’s not fully integrated into how you go to market. Digital transformation provides the most positive impact when you can meet your customers
where they are, in order to provide them with a seamless buying experience.
Of course, technology can help businesses operate faster, in a more agile and responsive way. However, it’s those businesses that put the effort into the sales end of the organisation – the point of contact with the customer – that are facilitating faster transformation. And it’s a virtuous circle. Customers are happier, the business grows, and it achieves more effective alignment within the organisation – not least because it’s easy to attract company-wide buy-in and support when it’s all about making customers happier and increasing sales.
Aligning your sales strategyIf you start with the sales end of digital transformation, you achieve better organisational alignment, as the c-suite understands that selling more and improving the bottom line marries with their strategy. When you have salespeople who are empowered with the answers to every question at the click of a mouse, the entire company feels confident that it’s moving in the right direction.
By applying technology in the right way, each interaction with a customer feeds your ability to understand them better so you can do an even better job of selling. When you start to focus on your customers across every channel, through e-commerce and your traditional sales channels, plus partners and resellers and other digital selling means – there’s a lot of data to sift through and understand. And it’s here that artificial
intelligence (AI) is most effective and where it can deliver measurable results.
There are three areas of focus that are critical to transforming the digital selling experience. First, the use of analytics and AI will extract insight from market behaviours. Second, those insights enable businesses to
personalise the right product offerings at the perfect price for individual customer’s needs. And, finally, this process provides the ability to reach and engage with the customer wherever they are and however they
want to buy – now far more via e-commerce and digital channels. The most effective businesses will continue to interrogate the data, continuously refine their current sales process and not merely bolt it on. A lack of integration tends to trigger channel conflict and mixed messages, erodes the trust you build with customers.
Not only has the coronavirus pandemic broken barriers and shone a light on the path ahead, that has unshackled businesses to commit wholeheartedly to digital transformation with a sales focus. Thankfully, it
doesn’t need to be complicated and there are three, straightforward steps to move through this process to become a better-aligned business and ensure a prosperous future.
Share dataBusiness marketing teams use vast amounts of data, gathered online from various sources, to track indicators of customer behaviour and deliver meaningful content where it matters. Meanwhile sales teams are dealing with the here-and-now activity of responding to prospective buyers in real-time. AI can feed information to both sales and marketing teams while being part of neither; it’s rather an independent arbiter of customer need, and a powerful tool for listening to customer preferences.
Get clarity on valueThat same AI-led process that provided buyer insights can also ensure that after a sale there is clarity on both where customers gain value from your product and how it can be improved. This allows your organisation to personalise offers to meet customer demands, so overall value to your customer is improved, and the buyer experience goes on to build loyalty and business growth.
Re-examine your go-to-market propositionFinally, analysing the data being gathered in transactions will enable leadership within your organisation to be clear on why deals are being won or lost. It will shine a spotlight on any misalignment in your business
and help you engage customers with more vigour in the near future. This kind of data-based configuration is the key to powerful selling resonance.
While businesses are understandably trying to cut costs in the current climate, scrapping digital transformation projects altogether would be foolish. It’s important to learn quickly when faced with unpredictable events. That capacity to quickly gain insight in to the effect of the changes in your customers’ world is critical when markets are so disrupted and changes happening so quickly. With many working remotely, the laptop is their working life and the businesses who have performed best under the current circumstances are the ones with the best digital sales support technology. An investment in digital selling is an investment in the long-term health of your business.
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