2020 was an unprecedented year for businesses all over the world. The COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses big and small into a massive state of change, whether they were prepared for it or not. As a result, it was by far the biggest and fastest transformation that we saw was the shift from offline, to online.
Gartner, a leading research and advisory firm, has predicted based on current data that 80% of B2B interactions will be digital by 2025. What occurred in 2020 could almost be viewed as a kind of Darwinian evolution event for business. The key takeaway being - digitally optimise your business, or risk extinction.
While many brick and mortar retailers hit the skids in 2020, for international companies like Zoom, Etsy, and Netflix, as well as domestic companies like Kogan, MyDeal, and Red Bubble, the pandemic accelerated their customer acquisition. The difference? A focus on digital lead acquisition, and digital sales.
There’s a dramatic shift towards digital sales happening all around us
As mentioned, one of the biggest shifts in consumer behaviour driven by the pandemic is a shift to digital sales and e-commerce. B2B companies are more open to closing deals online, and more consumers are open to buying anything from clothes and food, to furniture and electronics online.
All businesses that want to thrive need to adapt to this shift. All stages of your sales process need to be optimised for digital. Restrictions and uncertainty around travel, venue capacity, and both mask and hygiene procedures are likely going to continue well into the future, which only strengthens the idea that this digital transformation will be a lasting structural change.
But through all of the uncertainty lies a terrific opportunity. If your business can develop and refine a digital engagement strategy that adapts your sales processes to online channels, you could begin to take market share from your competition if they’re slower to adapt. Additionally, failure to do so could position your business as ‘out of touch’ with the current needs and expectations of customers.
The incredible opportunity that digital marketing presents for your business
One of the fundamentals of any marketing and sales process is to create and automate as many touch points as you can with customers. This includes both a mix of online and offline interactions. Platforms where you can leverage digital touch points include Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, Google search, YouTube, and email. Offline examples include via phone, and live events.
Providing free and high-value educational content as part of your marketing and sales process is key. You want to position your business as the trusted expert in your industry, and to do this you need to demonstrate how you can help customers achieve better and faster.
Further, Gatner’s research identified three digital channels which hold to most potential for your business’s digital transformation.
Opportunity #1: Create an end to end digital sales process
Gartner’s research found that millennials are now the primary decision makers inside many organisations. On top of this, they apparently have a strong distaste for sales reps! Their study found that 44% of millennials prefer zero interaction with sales reps when purchasing a B2B service.
That said, millennials still need to be sold. This means you need to adopt more “millennial friendly” ways of selling. Forbes revealed Five Ways Sales Has Changed In Recent Years. One of the simplest strategies you can adopt is content marketing. Creating compelling content that has a high perceived value for your customers is a fantastic way to begin your digital sales process. With search engines like Google being the first place many consumers start their buying process, having engaging content for users to interact with will build trust and credibility for your business, leading to higher quality leads, and more customers.
Opportunity #2: Digital and automated purchase flows
Retail customer’s expectations of how they’re sold, cross-sold, and upsold is changing, too, and these expectations are flowing into the B2B space. Customers expect the sales process to be clear and simple. Given customers are growing increasingly reluctant to answer their phones, adapting a digital sales process is key.
This starts with mapping out your sales process for both new customers, and upselling existing customers. Identify all the pain points and objections along the way, and map out digital touchpoints where you can address these concerns. Even better, if you can do this automatically through ad retargeting and email automation, then these sales processes can run on autopilot for you.
Opportunity #3: Having a winning data strategy
In recent years, experts have compared data’s value to that of crude oil. While these are very different things, there’s no denying that data is becoming an increasingly valuable asset to any business. In terms of digital marketing, data can be used for anything from creating highly targeted audiences for paid traffic, to creating custom segments in your email database with which to send highly contextual communications.
So if you’re not capturing as much data as possible from your existing customers, then that’s something to implement as soon as you can. Mining your existing customer base can help your advertising dollars generate higher ROI, by giving the algorithms the best coordinates with which to go out and find similar prospects.
Data should underpin all of your marketing and sales decisions. From lead prospecting to people management, churn reduction, and pricing. Mckinsey has found that using a data driven sales strategy can make your business 5-6% more profitable than your competitors.
Ready to start your digital journey?
At First Five Eight we specialise in helping businesses build a proven and scalable digital marketing strategy. Starting with your business needs and goals, we can build a blueprint for acquiring high quality digital prospects, and moving them through automated sales journeys tailored for your business. Get in touch today for a free consultation!