While digital marketing is a mature ecosystem with proven processes and practices, digital selling is still evolving. Many sales organizations were reluctant to implement a digital sales transformation until COVID-19 came and forced everyone into virtual selling.
Today, digital selling is more important than ever.
In this episode of the Modern Marketing Engine, I talked with Ed Terpening, Industry Analyst at Altimeter Group, who recently released the 2020 State of Digital Selling research report. This survey sought to understand the capabilities and key success factors enabling the digital transformation of selling among B2B businesses.
It was based on a survey of 506 sales professionals across North America, Europe, and China, and it offers a comprehensive view of how B2B sales teams are leveraging digital in their sales processes.
Listen to this episode to learn about the key findings of this report and how you can apply that knowledge to your organization.#Sellers @EdTerpening Industry Analyst at @altimetergroup provided some great insights on the key findings from his recently released the 2020 State of Digital Selling research report in his conversation with @BernieBorges in this… Click To Tweet
The State of Digital Selling
Ed provided some great insights on the key findings from the report. Here they are:
1. Now, more than ever, selling is a team sport.
The customer is the center of experience in any business. Marketing is the front end of customer experience. They then go through sales and then they go through service and customer success.
So it’s really important to connect all of those dots between those organizations and think not just about digital marketing but also digital selling and how they work together and then customer success and service.
“All of the teams that touch the customer must have a consistent view,” Ed says. They have to understand what white papers the customers are reading from marketing, what service problems they’re having, what kind of value propositions work in the sales process.”
Their research found that those selling teams that had well-aligned Marketing, Sales, and Service teams always did better than others that didn’t.
2. Sales teams need to make the digital mindset shift.
According to the report, a sales team with a strong digital culture will accomplish its objectives and perform better, as sellers trust the value of data and the tech tools they use.
“The technology industry really outperformed other industries when it came to digital selling,” Ed says, “because they have a digital culture, they’re in this business and they’re actually much more effective in this world and achieve higher results. Making that culture mindset shift is so important.”
The seller’s mindset needs to really shift and think about engaging digitally through value. This is most commonly thought of as social selling skill development.I agree with @EdTerpening Industry Analyst at @altimetergroup when saying that sellers need to think about engaging digitally through value and working on a robust digital culture. Great conversation with @BernieBorges in this… Click To Tweet
3. High-touch, high-value cross-functional selling outperforms automated high-volume selling.
Automation in sales has been rapidly growing in the past few years, but Altimeter Group’s research found that it underperforms when compared to other high-touch approaches, such as Account-Based Marketing and Account-Based Selling, which are more customer-centric.
Cross-functional teams that partner on key accounts are more effective in achieving revenue and customer success goals than sellers who rely on automation.
“This reinforces the fact that it’s not just digital, it’s people teaming together and getting the highest results,” Ed says.
Listen to the episode to learn about the three models of selling they tested and which one performs better.
4. Top performers focus on the customer through customer-focused metrics, cross-functional teaming, and selling by vertical industry.
The fourth key finding was that top sales organizations prioritized customer satisfaction above metrics such as sales quota achievement, recognized and addressed the diversity of B2B buying committees and customized sales approaches by industry vertical.
“Successful companies are focused on the customer,” Ed says. “Digital sellers that were not as mature were focused on things like revenue growth, rather than leveraging existing customers and really optimizing the value from those customers. Instead, they tended to seek out new customers.”
Part of having the right focus is knowing that the modern B2B buyer expects sellers to understand their industry to the point that they become a trusted partner in their own success.Great ep. of the @mmenginepodcast w/ @EdTerpening Industry Analyst at @altimetergroup and @BernieBorges, especially the fourth key finding prioritizing customer satisfaction above metrics such as sales quota achievement. Click To Tweet
5. As teams build digital excellence, boundaries are likely to blur between sales and marketing teams.
Digital marketing automation is a mature practice, while sales automation is evolving. Ed provided the analogy of left brain versus right brain to talk about this difference between digital marketing and digital selling.
“Marketing is sort of the left brain, very analytical, very focused on data to make decisions,” Ed says. “Versus the sales team that might be more about the gut feeling, more relationship-based. They’re complimentary, of course, but as sales teams become more digitally mature, they rely more on data analytics technology and AI to guide their next moves.”
6. Digitally mature sellers are outperforming less mature teams through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Altimeter found there was a very strong correlation between mature digital sellers and less mature sellers regarding their success during the pandemic.
The pandemic has laid bare the challenges businesses face as they transition, such as finding cross-functional alignment to achieve seamless customer experience, made possible through leadership alignment.
Ed’s advice to marketing leaders is to get ready to help your sales teams succeed in embracing digital. Marketers should see themselves as partners of the sales team.
Don’t miss my conversation with Ed and don’t forget to download The 2020 State of Digital Selling.