The digital strategy for your distribution channels was once considered a “healthy thing to do” or a long-term target. Enter COVID, and Digital Transformation and customer experience are now the main challenges for Sales Leaders as more and more consumers switch to digital platforms. It has been a rush to figure out how to match platforms with the latest Digital Normal as we enter Annual Preparation for 2021.
With the immediate impact of the COVID pandemic largely behind us, organisations are slowing shifting back from the mindset of sustainability to growth.
The digital era has implemented innovations and tools that have changed the sales landscape. As a result, traditional ways of selling are failing to have the effect they once had as consumers flock to shop online.
At this stage in 2020, all your competitors have experienced some variation in digital transformation to complement the end-to-end digital sales strategy. A report by KPMG found that over 90 per cent of businesses have undergone a transformation over the last two years.
As a business owner, you should answer 3 questions prior to implementing an aligned digital sales strategy –
1. How is my strategy centred around the customer?
Your sales team understands your clients the best. Too often, the plan is set from top to bottom, resulting in strategies that may be out of touch with the customer resulting in frustration for sales reps.
This can lead to political disagreement and resulting in unrealistic digital sales targets and timelines from the executive team.
Selling is still a human-focussed art. Using your field resources, such as customer journey maps and customer personas, to understand how and why your clients make purchase decisions, aligns your sales strategy to the customer’s journey, therefore motivating your sales team by increasing their ability to sell.
Convey the message of your clients to the strategy meeting by first speaking to your sales teams. It can create a plan that appeals to the consumers and executed by sales teams.
2. Do I have the top to bottom accountability to propel success?
The lack of dedication and focus on a particular point in the chain can hinder your execution. Strategically look for collaborators within the company focused on long-term growth instead of the conventional, “tick off the box” tasks.
Many organisations see the introduction of digital CRM / ERP systems as ‘checked off the box’, thinking they have a digital plan in motion. However, digital execution is an agile, iterative process and continually fluid as per market demand.
The foundation is established in the first step and then tailored to the consumer and sales representatives based on feedback. Without a long-term vision, businesses lose steam to see beyond step one and struggle to see significant increased growth and improvements in productivity.
Designate an accountable individual to champion each input and process. Look for champions at all levels of the organisation. This may be the management graduate’s duty for automating analytics reporting to a key vertical industry or a sales manager who seeks new routes to the market in a growing field. Accountability ensures everyone works on a common goal and that progress ensues.
Define a clear list of roles and people that will advocate and drive initiatives. It will generate ownership and execution responsibility.
3. Do I have the proficiencies to scale digital growth?
Any introduction of a digital strategy is futile if you are unable to maintain or scale strategies. Transformations can take on a high level of technology literacy and produce large volumes of data. The system administrator must run sophisticated systems with data gurus in place to analyse fresh data, as well as invent existing positions and expertise on the team to recognise gaps.
Ask yourself a situational question to test your preparation, such as:
- If all my customers are virtual and work from home because of COVID, did I equip my employees with virtual sales skills?
- If I introduce a new costly CRM framework, will my sales teams fail to produce reports and actionable insights?
Fill out the skills gaps by recruiting or refining the strengths of your employees. It does not have to be expensive. Find experts in your current company or exploit value-based online tools such as YouTube or Coursera training. You may initially receive pushback from middle management highlighting a better use of their time however react by convincing them of the long-term potential.
The digital sales strategy is now a central pillar in all businesses. Any lack of a customer-focused approach, weak sponsorship and lack of scale skills will prevent a company from achieving its true efficiency and revenue gains. Facilitate a cohesive working relationship between the corporate teams and sales teams by initiating a constructive approach in the design, implementation and sustainability process.
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