The Transformation of Selling: How Digital Enables Seamless Selling

A preview of new, very cogent, research from Altimeter, a Prophet Company. One of my top 10 digital content and thought leadership inspiration sources.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

While “social selling” is a key idea that has emerged over the past few years,  it is clear that something larger is afoot. Keeping up with fast-moving and  well-informed customers requires sales departments to focus less on the hard  sell and more on adding value to the experience and relationship via digital  channels. Moreover, selling must become seamless, bridging traditional  department silos like Marketing, Sales, and Service to meet customers  wherever they may engage an organization.

This report examines the transformation of selling in complex transactions,  such as those typically done in business-to-business (B2B) sales or high-  consideration consumer sales. Three types of transitions drive the digital  transformation process: Platform Integration, Organization, and Culture.

Notably, while digital technologies may drive the transformation, the strategic  focus for sales teams must include changing organization and culture such that  customers become the core of the selling process.

INTEGRATION OF DATA, INSIGHTS, AND CONTENT PLATFORMS LAYS THE FOUNDATION.

Digital Transformation of Sales 3 Transitions

On the surface, integration appears to revolve around technology platforms. But Jerome  Thiebaud, Director of Global Digital Workplace Marketing at Avanade, pointed out a subtle  difference, saying, “It’s not because you have technology that you are going to be successful  in the marketplace. It’s because you have technology that allows you to focus more on the  customer, and on the human interaction.” Most companies have an overabundance of  technology but lack the integration between those platforms to keep customers at the center.

Maureen Blandford, CMO of Software Improvement Group, affirms, “Integration is the  new black. We’re trying to build as small a technology stack as possible, with optimal  integration.” Here are some of the top integration efforts organizations should prioritize to  transform selling.

PUT THE POWER OF DIGITAL DATA AND CONTENT IN THE HANDS OF EMPLOYEES TO ENGAGE PARTNERS AND CLIENTS.

At the most basic level, digitizing Sales means more than getting them equipment and loading them up with software and content — it’s about making sure that these enabling  technologies are tuned to drive better engagement with customers. At CBRE,  one of

the world’s largest commercial real estate firms, a key goal was to enable salespeople  to demonstrate their deep understanding of their clients’ businesses by using digital  to establish and scale thought leadership and thus trust. CBRE took all of the paper  materials its salespeople used to hand out to clients and put them on iPads. They built  a proprietary iOS app called Engaged, enabling corporate, 400 local offices and 75,000  employees to quickly access relevant assets digitally. The app enables salespeople to  add interactive and engaging content, like video, to their presentations and pitches on

the fly, without having to go back to IT for help. At the same time, CBRE recognized that  social media was becoming a more important force.

“If you’re looking for [real estate] space, you’re not going to be looking on Twitter,”  acknowledges CBRE’s Trey Tubbs. “But our clients, prospective clients, and people in our  industry follow us on social media. An article will go out and be well-received by people  we never expected to be interested.”

LEVERAGE EXISTING TOOLS RATHER THAN SEEKING OUT NEW ONES.

Rather than try to select, install, and adopt a new technology, sometimes it’s faster and easier to tap an established one and modify existing processes instead.

At Intel, the Marketing group leveraged the  existing Brand IQ platform, rather than create a new tool, to create a content aggregator,  which became a one-stop shop for anyone to post and share content. Different Sales  roles would share different types of content that they found helpful.

Danielle Miller, Global Social Business Strategist and Manager at Intel, recalls, “We  were finding that everybody likes the bright shiny tool. ‘Let’s just get a tool!’ But there  needs to be recognition that we look at the internal processes so that it serves as a  solid foundation for the future, because we knew there was a limit to how many tools a  salesperson can manage.”

DISTRIBUTE  CUSTOMER DATA AND LISTENING THROUGHOUT THE ORGANIZATION. DATA IS A GREAT WAY TO OPEN WINDOWS BETWEEN SILOS.

Selling transformation silos

The avowed goal of many digital transformation efforts is to have a perfect, 360-degree view of everything a customer does, on and off your site. The reality is that this will take years, and you can’t afford to wait. Several  organizations we spoke with described how they took a first basic step of integrating  operational and social media data about customers into their CRM profiles.

At thyssenkrupp Elevator Asia Pacific, digital was the way to open windows between the  silos, enabling the organization to look at its customers through the same customer data  lens. The company has diverse customers ranging from sophisticated building managers  in Singapore to first time developers in China, altogether using 250,000 elevators,  escalators, and moving walkways throughout Asia Pacific. The first step was to put all  sales brochures and materials on tablets so that relevant assets were easy for teams to  access and for Marketing to update. In addition, the tablets gave thyssenkrupp’s teams  direct access to data on equipment breakdowns and on how quickly service issues were  addressed. They could then create customer-specific presentations to demonstrate the  value of their products and services.

Similarly, thyssenkrupp sources data from social listening that identifies problems at  customer sites before they become major problems. That data flows into various CRM  systems and can proactively trigger a visit by thyssenkrupp to the customer.

“We’re generating leads from what we can observe in the public social space,” explained  Kelly Truax, VP of Service Support at thyssenkrupp Elevator Asia Pacific. “We have full-  time people in place who monitor social channels, looking for our competitors’ unhappy  customers, but also watching out for any of our own customers who may need assistance  before they approach us.”

TAP INTO ANALYTICS AND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE TO IMPROVE CONTENT CREATION AND ENGAGEMENT.

Given the rising digital sophistication of buyers, Marketing can’t get away with creating “one-size-fits-all” collateral anymore. The problem with most content isn’t that there isn’t enough, but rather that there’s too much of the wrong kind. A study  by Docurated found that a third of a sales rep’s time is spent searching for or creating  content — time that could have been spent engaging in sales conversations. To address  this, organizations are using marketing technology to support the content needs of  salespeople. For example, Dun & Bradstreet uses digital intelligence to perform lookalike  modeling that identifies the next best action and then programmatically creates and  delivers relevant content — either to the salesperson or directly to the customer. On  larger accounts, Marketing works closely with Sales to deploy the right set of tactics —  such as  architecting workshops, creating custom content, or designing events.

Machine learning can also provide context, discerning and anticipating what customers  are looking for. IBM uses artificial intelligence to answer basic questions or offer free trials  based on interactions with customers. When the conversation gets to the point where the  customer is using buying language or asking deep technical questions, the program will  engage the appropriate sales or technical rep.

“A tool like this can nurture thousands of prospects all at once who are all driving towards  the same goal,” explains Jeannette Browning, worldwide manager of IBM Watson’s  Digital Client Cognitive Evangelism team. “It’s an interesting combination of tech support  and learning, while providing key digital assets.” Machines will become smart enough to be able to interact with humans — and also realize when it’s necessary for a human to  take over and enact the “escalate to human” sub-routine.

A complete 10 page report overview can be found on SlideShare.

Thank you Charlene Li, Altimeter.

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ROI Rankings: Facebook Deemed More Important Than Twitter and LinkedIn, Less Than Google

ROI Rankings: Facebook Deemed More Important Than Twitter and LinkedIn, Less Than Google
September 16, 2013 by MarketingCharts staff

AdAgeRBC-Online-Ad-Platforms-Ranked-by-ROI-Importance-Sept2013 Asked to rank 5 key online advertising platforms by importance in terms of ROI, respondents to a survey conducted by Ad Age and RBC Capital Markets put Google on top, giving it an average rating of 2.1 on a 6-point scale of importance, where 1 is the most important. Google edged out Facebook (average rating of 2.22), from which 9 in 10 respondents are seeing either improved (42.7%) or steady (48.3%) ROI over the past 6 months.
AdAgeRBC-Online-Ad-Platforms-Ranked-by-ROI-Importance-Sept2013
After Facebook, Twitter (average rating of 3.04) was deemed the next-most important for ROI, followed by LinkedIn (3.38), Yahoo (4.23), and AOL (5.6).

Respondents – a mix of marketers of clients (26%), ad agency employees (30%), and media company employees and consultants (44%) – appear to be satisfied with the support provided by Facebook for their advertising efforts. Almost half believe that Facebook’s support for advertisers has improved to some degree over the past 6 months, compared to only 1 in 10 who believe it has to some extent deteriorated. Additionally, roughly three-quarters are very (10.5%) or somewhat (65.2%) satisfied with the data and analytic tracking they receive from Facebook.

Given improving ROI and support, it’s not surprising that advertisers will be increasing their efforts: over the next year, a majority expect to significantly (11.2%) or moderately (44.5%) increase their Facebook advertising budget.

Interestingly, although Facebook is deriving an increasing share of ad revenues from mobile , advertisers don’t see much separation between the ROI of mobile and desktop ads, with a plurality (38%) rating them about the same. Slightly more than one-third feel that mobile ROI is much (7.7%) or somewhat (27.4%) greater, while 26.9% feel the same way about desktop ROI.

There’s more consensus when it comes to Facebook Exchange, used by about 1 in 5 respondents. Of those, two-thirds said it has been somewhat effective for their campaigns, with another 1 in 5 calling it very effective.

About the Data: The survey was conducted in August among 1,200 Ad Age subscribers.