Driving Digital Sales Transformation: Not Only About Building an Online Shop

March 16, 2021

Setting up an online shop heralds digital transformation, and eCommerce is indeed a vital aspect of this transformation. However, many business owners who are unfamiliar with the digital world solely focus on building an online shop and fail to realize that putting up a functional online store is not enough in this day and age, especially considering the global pandemic.

According to Gartner research, 80% of business-to-business (B2B) sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur via digital channels by 2025. In other words, Sales Leads must prioritize a digital approach first to meet new buying preferences. The study also claims that 33% of all buyers desire a seller-free sales experience – with 44% of millennials preferring this option.

This transformation is not only limited to online shops but encompasses new tools and methods for sales and new kinds of Sales Leadership as well. Digitalizing some of the sales processes while keeping with the same sales approaches is doomed for failure.

Digital Sales Transformation is not a once-off event, but a process where you need gradual yet constant improvement. Just because you have followed the steps for digital transformation and established an online shop does not mean that your work is done. There is no status quo you can reach. Your processes must continuously develop along with technologies and tools as they evolve. Customer requirements likewise grow as they get more services and can do more online. Your customers will gradually expect better quality and better online experiences.

Moving – and staying – digital, requires time, knowledge, new skills, and constant development. It certainly demands a different type of approach to leading sales!
Six Areas to Consider in Digital Sales Transformation

  1. Utilize the data to increase your sales
    The core to Digital Sales Transformation lays in correct and trustworthy data. Check your CRM – is it up to date, does it contain the correct information, and do your sales reps use it? In many organizations, entering data into a CRM system and utilizing it is not that simple. Many sales reps capture data with reluctance, or don’t do it at all. The data might be outdated, incorrect, or sales reps may not know how to use the system correctly.

    Reps often fail to understand the importance of accurate data because the benefits and the importance of the system for the sales team and the organization as a whole, have not been properly explained or it is unclear how the organization can leverage the data in their sales and marketing efforts.

    Besides CRM, Sales Leaders should use data from all the interactions of the sales team, including calls, video conferences, sales proposals, emails, and social media. By monitoring and analyzing everyday tasks, it is possible to enhance the processes. This could highlight the need for the training of sales reps, or the need for adjusting sales messages and interactions.

    In addition to basic financial metrics, a Sales Leader should monitor quality, such as Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), Net Promoter Score (NPS) and customer lifetime value (CLV). On-site engagement activity, email open rates and trial starts are some other quality metrics you might consider.

    A greater emphasis should be placed on the quality of the data behind the metrics. For example, is the data correct when distinguishing marketing qualified leads (MQL’s) and Sales qualified leads (SQL’s)? Have you analyzed your sales funnel properly for better tracking and prioritizing the deals? Your data in your pipeline should be accurate and up to date. According to a recent study by Vantage Point, 63% of respondents claim that their companies do a bad job of managing their sales pipelines.

    Clearly defined objectives, KPI’s and strategies enable your team’s progress and help your organization grow.
  2. Know your customers
    As a Sales Leader, you must know who your customer is. What do they need? What are the challenges? What are their choices and how do they want to be in touch and make the purchase?

    Do you know which articles on your website interest people? It is essential to know the website analytics and all the touchpoints in the customer journey.

    If you have skipped segmentation or creating buyer personas, now is the time to roll up your sleeves! The digital age shapes the buying behavior of the customers, and sales cycles in many areas of business are changing.

    It is necessary to understand customer’s perspectives, their pain points, challenges, and what is going on in their area of industry. Based on the knowledge, you need to be able to adapt your sales strategies and go to market models. Perhaps it is time to even target totally new audiences and leave some behind.
  3. Utilize digital sales methods and social selling
    Many of us are familiar with using Teams or Zoom or other video conferencing software. Not all of us, however, understand the limitations placed on us when we are not in the same room with the person.

    You do not speak or act the same as you would face to face.
    I have attended too many video conference meetings where the other person hasn’t enabled the webcam or the quality of the connection is poor. Background noise is another common culprit. Furthermore, salespeople often try to fit an hour-long presentation into a 20-minute monologue. Keeping people engaged and connected remains a problem.

    I like the term “adaptive selling” – a sales approach that puts customers’ needs at the heart of the sales process. Being adaptive also means that a sales representative knows which sales methods the customer prefers. Sales reps often send video conference links to customers on software that the company uses by default. However, the customer may want a say in the matter and choose software they are familiar and comfortable with.

    Your customer must always have a choice. In fact, they may prefer to solely communicate via email or phone, as not everyone is comfortable with video conferencing. So next time – ask your customer and adapt your sales strategy accordingly.

    Social Selling means you are taking advantage of your social networks to find and engage new prospects, and establish a reputation in your industry. Whether you are in B2C or B2B, most people in your target group will use some social media platform. You should go where your customers are. Most likely your competitors are there already. There are hundreds of websites offering free tips on how to become good at social selling. Just remember, you build your personal brand and authority yourself, not your Marketing team.

    It is worth it – according to LinkedIn research, 92% of B2B customers are willing to engage with sales reps who have positioned themselves as an industry leader. This credibility is often attained by posting regularly to social media.

    More technology or digital sales methods don’t mean automatically more sales. The idea of online tools is to make the process easier for the customer. When you successfully implement the right tools to the right stage of the process and learn how to use them effectively, you will see improved sales results.
  4. Set your team up for success
    One of the most important skills a good Sales Leader needs today is the ability to create the conditions that make digital transformation and digital competitiveness possible.

    As Steve Jobs said: “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do”. Leaders must attract the best people to work for them and bring out the best in them. A good leader must be able to lead a team of experts who have more expertise in a particular area than they do. A top-down, authoritative leadership method no longer has a place in this kind of organization. A leader must be able to trust and delegate.

    Digital transformation means turbulence and uncertainty and at times it may feel like you live in the middle of a constant emergency. It is a task of a leader to effectively manage the chaos and build a sense of security and stability among employees. A good leader knows how to influence and encourage people to navigate through changes and how to keep remote employees engaged.

    Now, more than ever, people need visionary, brave leaders, who puts people first.
  5. Adapt your communication style to the digital age
    Communication skills is the one trait emphasized in all the leadership manuals. Top-notch communication skills imply more than being eloquent and getting along with people. When selling through video conferencing software or presenting in a webinar, you need to try to establish an engaging atmosphere.

    A small talk in the beginning helps people to feel connected. Encouraging interaction is important and you should always listen to your audience and enable raising hand and chat features to let your audience participate.

    Written communication skills are also essential for the modern salesperson. You need to reach your prospects and customers more and more by using emails, social media channels and live chats. Trying to engage people and drive traffic with the bots across websites and messaging applications, you need to design an effective communication style for them.

    Different channels require different approaches and communication styles, and content delivered in a way that is appropriate for each channel. As a Sales Leader, you need to train and educate your sales team to communicate effectively in all the channels they are using.
  6. Use data and analytics to improve your sales strategy
    When sales move to digital channels, and digital sales methods are added to the picture, a Sales Leader needs to adjust their strategies to a new situation. New sales channels have different cost and profitability profiles.

    It may be difficult to measure profit margins for online markets when you consider shipping costs and different buyer behavior, such as the rate of returning products, commissions, fees, discounts, etc. You, therefore, need to do proper calculations when managing multiple sales channels.

    When traditional forms of sales are no longer enough to serve customers, you need to shift your team to adapt digital sales tactics. New allocation of budgets and resources, new performance evaluation methods, and KPI’s need to be considered. Traditionally sales teams’ performance has been measured by the pipeline value and revenue accomplished. The problem with these metrics is that this limited data is, in most cases, not accurate and rarely sufficient to forecast future sales.

    A modern digital sales strategy uses data as an asset. This includes data not only from previous sales, but the data from all the touchpoints of the customer journey. Data analytics tools provide valuable information for better decisions and help to predict the future of customer behavior. Simply looking back at customer behavior in the past doesn’t give you the necessary information you need to survive in today’s highly competitive markets.

    Building a data-driven sales strategy that uses analytics effectively takes time and effort, but delivers significant benefits for the organization that enables better performance and competitive advantage.

    Many businesses, particularly in the COVID era, have decided to invest some money in their online shopping experience. If you don’t pay attention to the entire digital sales transformation, however, an online shop is not going to pay off. Luckily, whether you’re selling consultation services or woodwork equipment, you can make it work for you.

    What is important is that you don’t underestimate the amount of work it’s going to take to make things click. Digital sales transformation means that you’re going to have to invest a lot of time in the transformation process. However, as Henry Ford has said: Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.

    When steering digital sales transformation in today’s world it is important to know what you don’t know. Nobody can know everything, and leaders should acknowledge their own limitations and learn to delegate and learn new skills. In order to stay competitive in today’s agile business world, there is seldom much time to try and fail. Seeking knowledge outside the company is often a good idea.

    At Henrico Digital, we are happy to help you navigate successfully through the digital transformation in all areas of business.

    Contact us today for levelling up your sales team and modernizing the processes for the digital era!

    About the writer:
    Anne Riihimäki is an enthusiastic and highly experienced Sales and Marketing Executive with a skill set developed over 20 years across strategic and operational roles.

    She serves as a Senior Digital Consultant at Henrico Digital. Holding a Master’s degree in Economics, she has worked with strong, international brands in a variety of industries, including Accenture, Reader’s Digest, Telia Company, and European Dynamics S.A.

    Anne is specialized in customer-centric sustainability and firmly believes sustainability is an integral part to achieving lasting commercial success in every business sector and in society as a whole. An innovative and creative leader, Anne has a true passion for inspiring and motivating businesses on how to leverage digitalization in companies.

How can we help? Please get in touch, we are excited to hear from you!

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