Pivot Strategies and Technology to Master Sales Digital Transformation

In today’s digital world, it’s hard to imagine a time when companies just sold products straight from the shelf. Throughout the years, consumer habits have changed, shifting based on evolving needs and technological advancements. 

Some events have acted as more of a catalyst for change than others: The rise of social media networks, and consumers becoming up to five times more dependent on digital content sparked a new era of online selling. And the COVID pandemic is pushing this evolution even further.  

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In the last few months, endless sales teams have gone remote and learned to depend more consistently on digital tools. Consumers are starting to avoid face-to-face interactions, and companies that want to thrive are searching for strategies to help them stay ahead of the curve during and after COVID. 

Unfortunately, numbers are suffering in the meantime. According to the Annual State of Sales by Salesforce, 57 percent of sales reps said they expected to miss their quota in 2018. Our research has found that now around 84 percent of sales professionals missed their quota in 2020.  

So, how do teams adjust to the digitally transforming sales landscape? 


The Rise Of The Digitally Conscious Customer 

Tech innovator, Bill Gates, once said that success requires the drive and agility to constantly “reinvent” yourself and your processes.

Whether you like it or not, it’s hard to ignore the evidence that digital technology is transforming consumer habits. Machine learning, apps, mobile devices, automations and more are allowing customers to get what they want whenever they want it.  

These new digital technologies are causing a major shift in consumer expectations, leading to a new kind of buyer. These customers are constantly connected, app native, and now, thanks to COVID, keen to avoid any face-to-face interactions.  

For sales teams, this means it’s time to make some changes. Cold calling becomes cold emailing and social selling through channels like LinkedIn and Facebook. For customer success teams, being proactive is key. Companies need to ensure that they’re ready to assist their customers in new ways. This is particularly important in an environment where renewal accounts are growing, but churn rate is accelerating, too.  

To accommodate the new buyer, particularly after COVID, companies need to think digital-first.  

A digital sales transformation needs more than just software. This process is a collective undertaking that requires departmental alignment, full executive buy-in, strategic planning and consistent execution.  

So, how do you get started? 


Step 1: Adopt data – The foundation of transformation 

Customers in the current landscape are demanding more from every business. They want experiences that are convenient, customized and relevant. The only way companies can deliver is by focusing on data.

The good news for today’s companies is that data is everywhere. We’re creating around 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day at our current pace. However, it’s not enough to just have that information. Organizations need to know how to handle and leverage it, too. 

This means creating a single point of truth for your data–something you can use to align your teams and create a more successful system for tracking progress. A sales enablement solution that combines everything from your CRM solutions to your email can help create a more comprehensive source of accurate information.  

Conduct an audit of your workplace to identify where the data you rely on comes from. How do you access this information and combine it with other data points your team might have discovered in the past? How do you check for duplicates, enable automation and optimize your sales pipelines based on what you discovered? 

Finding a way to combine all of your information into a constant flow of suitable guidance is crucial because it shows you everything you need to know about the current needs of your customers.  


Step 2: Meet the needs of customers 

This might seem like one of the most obvious suggestions for any sales team. However, meeting the needs of your customers is a lot more complex than you think. Today’s consumers aren’t happy with sales processes that just make assumptions. They want you to prove that you understand their pain points and their requirements.  

According to our research, 75 percent of clients said relevant content that speaks directly to their needs is essential when looking for a purchasing opportunity. Another 67 percent said easy access to information and competitive pricing was essential.  

Other important steps to take for your customers include: 

  • Get to the point: Quick and immediate responses to problems capture audience attention rapidly. A lead has a 400 percent lower chance of qualifying when a sales call takes 10 minutes compared to a five-minute call.
  • Be persistent: Today’s customers need more than one touch with a business to make a crucial decision. By just making a few extra calls, you can see a 70 percent increase in contact rates, according to Hubspot and the Harvard Business Review.  
  • Show relevance: Improving the customer journey doesn’t mean sending more emails or talking to your audience more. It means understanding what they need from Day One and delivering it.  

Step 3: Updating the customer journey 

How do you provide your customers with the meaningful experiences they need to make a purchase? 

If the sales landscape is changing, it makes sense the customer journey is evolving, too. Defining your lead-to-revenue process is a crucial part in the digital sales transformation puzzle, so your objective should be to establish customer lifecycle stages so you can continue to support them.  

Begin by exploring the critical steps in your sales cycle, then work with your sales operations and revenue groups to decide on new ways of pushing customer success. Remember, it’s worth ensuring that every step in your sales process is suitable for manual completion before you dive too deeply into tools and automation. 

Once you know your employees are confident and comfortable with your sales pipelines, look for ways to assist them. Automations are a great tool for empowering your employees. Your marketing automation and CRM platforms are fantastic tools for automating the hand-off process between your marketing and sales teams, for instance.  

In recent months, many businesses have discovered firsthand just how valuable it can be to have the right technology in place. We’re learning that digital landscapes and the cloud allow companies to be dynamic, fast and flexible. This means organizations can test new practices that may be more cost-effective, and you can measure results.  

All the while, big data analytics and tools ensure you can record all of the new and existing touchpoints your audience uses to connect with you. Using this information gives you a full 360-degree view of your consumer.  


Step 4: Embracing the right processes 

Once you have a better understanding of the customer journey, you can identify areas for better sales engagement. Bring the entire sales team together to get insights and suggestions on how to master every stage of the sales cycle. Remember to create a consistent feedback loop so you can keep in touch with what’s happening on the front lines, too.  

Without enterprise solutions like sales engagement platforms and computer telephony integration, sales teams often spend a lot of time doing non-sales-related and inefficient activities for most of the day. The same is true when the right pipelines and content aren’t available to help employees support and lead customers.  

Salesforce found in 2018 that sales reps only spend around 34 percent of their time actually selling. Investing in the right processes and tools will make it easier for businesses to continue providing the right sales experiences at a consistent and efficient rate. 

At the same time, the right processes ensure that you can make your customer journeys more relevant and personalized. Accenture studies found that 75 percent of customers said they’re more likely to buy from a company that knows their purchase history, recognizes them by name, and recommends products based on previous purchases.  


Step 5: Empowering your team 

A lot of the biggest changes that happen during a sales digital transformation involve using data and insights to better understand customers. However, it’s important to know how to support your sales agents, too.  

One of the biggest responsibilities of today’s sales leaders is consistently motivating reps. These agents are today’s businesses biggest assets. Continuous coaching, training and support means teams can continue to thrive in these changing environments.  

Just as customers are struggling to adapt to the new landscape, your sales reps are sure to have some issues, too. HubSpot research suggests that continuous training can lead net sales to increase by as much as 50 percent per rep.   

Consider developing some incentives and friendly competition to motivate your reps and help them pursue their goals more consistently. You can even consider sales performance platforms to help you gamify the sales process and keep reps motivated.

Remember, tech is empowering customers to get what they want, whenever they want it. More than half of consumers expect customer service responses in an hour or less. These people also expect to get the same response times on weekends and weekdays. The need for instant gratification forces organizations to be constantly available and ready to respond.  

Training and empowering your team means showing them how to deal with these new sources of stress and giving them access to tools that help them interact on multiple channels. You may even need to teach your teams how to use new solutions like video and online demos.  


Step 6: Provide extra support when necessary 

Aside from providing new training to support your teams in this complicated time, it’s also worth ensuring that you have the right additional support in place. For instance, sometimes your sales agents will need extra help from a leader to help them make a sale with a difficult client. Other times, it might be necessary to use a sales playbook to guide sales.

Standardizing conversational outcomes, analyzing conversation quality, and tracking talk time using call recording analytics will give your sales management team a complete data set to track and refer to when they’re finding the right path to success.

Ultimately, one of the biggest pieces in transforming the sales team into a digital-first and modern sales powerhouse, is to provide them with the right product knowledge, tools and solutions. Sales enablement platforms and playbooks make it easier for your agents to dive into and extract the information they need to encourage successful sales.  

Make sure your employees have the guidance they need to inspire them when they’re guiding the customer through each stage of the buyer journey, and you’ll find that deals close a lot faster. Digital transformation isn’t just about having access to the right technology. It’s about showing your customers how to leverage that technology in a way that drives results.  


Transformation Doesn’t Stop Here 

Digital transformation in the sales landscape can be a worrying concept. Unfortunately, there’s more to it than merely embracing a few new tools now and again. The truth is that sales teams need to be ready to constantly evolve and grow if they want to succeed in the current landscape.  

Although we notice some of the most significant changes when cataclysmic events happen–like COVID-19–your clients are evolving at a consistent rate. The only way to ensure you’re moving at the same pace as them is to continuously measure things like closed deals and customer satisfaction. 

Overcoming digital transformation channels doesn’t mean just creating a new strategy every couple of years. You need to transform completely into an agile, aware and conscious team of forward-thinking sellers. The good news is that the right technology helps you do that.  

Roman Shovkun, EVP or worldwide sales & marketing

Roman Shovkun is the EVP of Worldwide Sales & Marketing at Revenue Grid, the only Customer Engagement platform that equips revenue-generating teams with everything they need in one place. 

Find more insights from Roman on the Crunchbase blog.

  • Originally published October 26, 2020