Digital transformation starts with changing how you sell

Restructuring how you understand and respond to customer needs creates business growth and alignment, says Geoff Webb, vice president of strategy at PROS


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What is the secret to successful digital transformation? It begins with changing how you sell. That’s the only way to evolve your organisation so it drives meaningful, positive change quickly enough.

Transforming your sales process so more products are accessible through digital channels is where you will gain the most value. In fact, that’s what your customers are now expecting.

The coronavirus pandemic has skyrocketed the trend of buying goods and services online, since face-to-face interaction is limited. And there is no coming back. Businesses have no other option but to embrace the world of ecommerce and digital selling if they want to retain their customers.

COVID-19 has unshackled businesses to commit wholeheartedly to digital transformation with a sales focus

The trend has sped up because neither the buyer nor the seller has a choice. You ignore your customers’ behaviours at your peril. And what customers want and expect from vendors has changed, sometimes in unpredictable ways.

At the start of the lockdown, some big companies were worried that without their sales teams on the road productivity would dwindle. But the opposite has happened and that’s thanks to technology, which supports this shift to online, digital selling. Those who have gone all in on tech are reaping the most significant rewards.

In recent years countless digital transformation projects have failed because brands have targeted the supposed ‘easy stuff’, bolting on tech to existing infrastructure, for instance. That minimal tinkering with tech doesn’t generate a great deal of business value if it’s not fully integrated. Ultimately, digital transformation has the most positive impact when you can meet your customers and provide them with a seamless buying experience.

Technology helps businesses operate faster and in a more agile and responsive way. Those who put that effort into the sales end of the organisation, where the rubber meets the road with the customer, facilitates faster transformation.

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.

If you start with the sales end of digital transformation, you achieve organisational cohesion, as the C-suite understands that selling more and improving the bottom line marries with their strategy. They think: “That sales guy who used to be a pain seems a lot smarter because he now has answers at his fingertips.”

If you apply the tech in the right way, every interaction with a customer feeds your ability to understand them better, which means you can do a better job of selling. When you begin to focus on your customers across every channel – encompassing ecommerce and your traditional sales channels, as well as via partners and resellers, and other digital selling means – there’s a lot of data to process and understand. It is here that artificial intelligence (AI) is most effective and where it can deliver measurable results.

Successful businesses will excel in three areas. Firstly, the use of analytics and AI will extract insight from the market, including customer behaviours. Secondly, those insights enable businesses to shape and personalise the right product offerings at the perfect price for an individual customer’s needs. Finally, this process provides the ability to reach and engage with the customer wherever they are and whichever way they want to buy, which is now far more heavily via ecommerce and digital channels.

The most effective organisations will continue to interrogate the data and continuously refine their sales process, not merely bolt it on. Such a lack of integration tends to trigger channel conflict and mixed messages, and erodes the trust that is paramount for buyers.

COVID-19 has broken barriers and shone a light on the path ahead. It has unshackled businesses to commit wholeheartedly to digital transformation with a sales focus. Thankfully, it doesn’t need to be complicated. There are straightforward incremental steps to move through this process to become a better-aligned business and ensure a prosperous future, a lot faster.

Learn more about transforming your sales process for the digital world, visit PROS.com