Digital selling is powered by information. Information drives virtually every process associated with the movement of product from concept and market to the customer’s own operation.
At each step along the product developmental cycle—throughout its active sales life and during the sunsetting of the product—data derived from multiple sources will help make all the critical decisions in terms of extending or expanding and slowing or stopping the development of that product.
In a recent piece, Digital Marketing Institute identifies specific skills that sales teams will require in this new era of selling. It’s a great piece, but I think it needs to expand its focus to include others who are involved in the creation, marketing and selling of products as well as those who are responsible for serving the customer after the sale.
The entire enterprise serves the customer, so it only makes sense for the entire enterprise to embrace the digital-selling experience.
Digital Selling for the Whole Enterprise
Let’s take a look at what it means to extend this concept to other areas within the enterprise.
Customer Data: Market and Domain Research
Customer data is digitized and maintained within the CRM system. This facilitates the easy identification of specific markets, titles and roles of contacts. Customer types such as national accounts, GSA or major accounts may be identified as well.
But what about competitive data such as solutions that offer advantages that are similar to those delivered by your own product? Do we know where the competition is installed? How about data related to credit worthiness or support history?
We touch customers on many levels, and each of those can be documented and used to complete a total picture of the customer. However, this means that other people within the enterprise need to become skilled in obtaining that intelligence and keeping it current.
Content: Covering the Selling Cycle
The enterprise will post and also consume content on the web. Marketing has the job of analyzing those pieces that are important to the target demographics and also to segment that content in terms of phase within the sales cycle. They also will create large amounts of content that cover the entire spectrum of the selling cycle.
Sales has the responsibility to offer specific pieces to specific customers based on their status within the selling cycle as well. Together, Marketing and Sales use content to attract perspective customers, educate prospects and provide resources to existing customers to further their education in areas related to the product and issues addressed.
Other individuals within the enterprise also create content for internal use, and many others consume content in relation to their own jobs and roles within the organization. This is a critical area in as much as the use of content involves some ability to weigh its quality and timeliness.
It’s important to the organization that people be educated in the evaluation of the content they encounter to ensure that it is truly beneficial to the organization.
Analytical Skills: Address Enterprise Needs
Data is literally everywhere today. Some of it is useful, some of it is not, but most of it requires some degree of sifting, cleaning, normalizing or some similar action in order to find the value buried within.
For Sales, this might mean analyzing the browsing behavior of website visitors. For engineers, this might mean analyzing the performance data of products installed in the field via IoT sensors. For business forecasters, this will likely involve the economic data reported in relation to your market segment.
The key is to relate your findings in a way that makes sense to the enterprise and the audience you are addressing. Accounting data can be expressed in a purely numeric format, or it can be extrapolated into an example that requires no financial background to understand.
Digital Selling Extends Beyond the Sales Office
There are other examples, but these suffice to drive home the point that digital selling extends beyond the sales office.
When the entire enterprise takes on this challenge, the entire enterprise becomes part of the selling process.