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Digital transformation — two words anyone who has so much as dabbled in the tech space has heard time and time again. Dubbed by SiriusDecisions as the “buzziest buzzword in B2B,” digital transformation means different things to different organizations. One of the areas where digital transformation is becoming increasingly relevant is in how sellers relate to their customers.

The results of SiriusDecisions’ 2018 Digital Transformation Survey showed that 55 percent of respondents believed that the goal of digital transformation should be on changing engagement with buyers and customers. In other words, how we relate to our customers is rapidly changing. Your buyer needs to be reached quicker with exactly the information they’re looking for, and now more than ever it’s important to invest in digitizing your sales force.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with B2B sales and marketing leaders in a series of thought leadership panels about digital sales transformation and how organizations can ensure their sales force isn’t falling behind. One panelist, Phill Sundal, Product Marketing Manager at DiscoverOrg, identified three major digitization areas to think about:

Automation

“The first way is about making your sales team more efficient. They can’t be wasting time reaching out to the wrong people or following up with someone who’s not interested in buying. If they are wasting time doing that, then you’re going to eventually fail to your competitors because there is someone out there who is only having their reps only reaching out to the right people at exactly the right time.”
Phill Sundal, DiscoverOrg

According to Nancy Nardin, founder of Smart Selling Tools, there is plenty of room for automation in the sales process.

“Right now, we’re spending about 35 percent of our time with salespeople actually in front of customers. So what are they doing the other 65 percent of the time? That’s the big chunk that can be automated. What we’re looking to do is reduce the time it takes so that you’re really optimizing the sales capacity and use of limited sales resources so that you can sell more,” says Nardin.

Back in the day, automation meant moving away from using business directories and phone books. But beyond burning our phone books and replacing them with tools like LinkedIn and DiscoverOrg, automation today can help sellers further their relationships with buyers with everything from delivering streamlined ways to train and onboard sellers to customizing and sending content for customers.

 

Data

“The second thing I think about is that digital transformation is about having a full 360 degree view of the customer, and that comes down to having data around them. That gives us more control over the buyer’s journey. We can make it a more enticing buyer’s journey and we can mitigate and communicate at different points in the buyer’s journey.”
Phill Sundal, DiscoverOrg

In the B2B world, data is gold. And data that allows you to craft a more meaningful buyer’s journey is the California Gold Rush of B2B. Luckily, there are tools available to sales reps that use AI and machine learning to help deliver more personalized experiences for buyers. For Patrick Merritt, Director of Sales Enablement at Puppet, having visibility into the field’s selling interactions is invaluable.

“One of the biggest challenges is saying, ‘Hey we have some great content. I don’t know if they’re using it. I don’t know what they’re using.’ If you can get some visibility and then tie that back to your best sellers and see what they’re using and how they’re having conversations, you can eliminate a lot of that challenge,” says Merritt.

 

Business Decisions

“The third thing I think about is using data to make decisions. Data-driven decisions in how you structure your teams, who reports to who, how you route and score leads all require you to have all the data you can possibly can about your customers and their companies in order to be able to make those decisions.”
Phill Sundal, DiscoverOrg

This goes a step further than gathering information about your buyer and asks you to think about how this data should be affecting your business. Are there areas where your sales cycle is bottlenecked? Is your team structure optimized to operate in conjunction with your buyer’s journey? Using automation and analytics to provide these insights and aid in making decisions is what separates those who simply digitize and those who digitize to transform their organizations.

But what about those companies that don’t invest in digitizing their sales force? I had the opportunity to chat with Merritt for an interview after his panel session, and there is one thing he knows about those companies who are behind on the digital transformation curve.

“Digital transformation is driven by the way that customers and prospects want to buy. It’s not a question of if you’re going to do it and how quickly you’re going to do it. If you’re not transforming how you’re selling and enabling your customers to buy, then your competitors are.”
Patrick Merritt, Puppet

 

Not investing in the tools that your sales force needs to stay competitive is going to cost companies. For laggards, not investing in digital transformation isn’t just a risk — it’s a death trap. Learn more in our sales enablement best practices guide on transforming your business.


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