Sales and marketing, even in the digital marketing age, must coexist and understand the role each other play in your business. Whether your business is entirely online and uses eCommerce or your click-and-mortar sales team uses a mix of physical sales and online lead generation, the ubiquitous Sales Manager and Marketing Officer must work hand-in-hand.
In this article we are going to discuss the challenges that a salesperson faces in the age of the digital web site and transparent world of information. We will also touch on the need for marketing help from a strategic and tactical point of view. And finally we will highlight the need for sales and marketing to understand the psychology of the buyer in a digital world.
The sales process in the digital marketing age has changed but the psychology of the buyer has not. The successful salesperson has upgraded their toolbox.
The role marketing and advertising plays has changed but the need to generate leads has not. The uniqueness of the digital age is the lead source. Did the prospective customer initiate contact from the physical sales process (walk into the facility, phoned in, met at live event) and the online sales process (filled out a web form, engaged via social media or called after reviewing your web site)?
Understanding Why People Buy
In this section it is important to understand the role of online sales copy, the tone of the message during the ‘pitch’ and the need for any business to understand the reasoning behind it all. Here is what every business needs to understand whether they sell through digital media or not:
- Almost every business that offers goods and services believes that it is the best at what they do and they have the best product for the price offered. Seriously, who does not believe that? All businesses believe they are better than their competitors. But that is part and parcel part of the problem. Too many make it about themselves. Just watch the promotions and such – look for the works me, I and everything that points to the product or business. News flash: Nobody cares about your offer until you prove you can solve a problem in a reasonable fashion.
- Customers love to buy but hate to be sold to. The customer buys to fulfill a need. They have a problem to solve. They have a desire to look good. IT is about them, not you, even if you have the one and only totally cool brand.
- Continuous returning customers are the ultimate of what all businesses seek even though they spend the majority of their money getting new ones. When your business has a great following in a community of advocates you hit nirvana. Most likely you have made it easy to buy from your business and the customer learned that your product or service does more than what your pitch said it would do.
What’s the problem? That bullet point list is common sense! Right?
The problem is that most marketers, during the sales process, incessantly talk about the the product or service (first point).
Those marketers who are more well-intentioned and experienced hop on the community of coolness bandwagon (third point). Not good!
When in fact the only thing the customer cares about is their needs, their wants, their goals, their objectives and that their problem is being solved! “Never confuse the reason people buy with the reason people stay.” ~ Dave Ramsey. This is true with romantic relationships, people in debt and the sales process.
Your sales and marketing agency must know the difference. Unfortunately, most do not.
Most marketing agencies became such through a strong background in IT (geeks, nerds, coders, developers) or a strong background in design (web situe builders, graphic artists, people that get into fonts, images and colors). The best marketing agencies have all those folks in-house (not contracted agents) and are their leadership is rooted in understanding the complexities of a business’s financials, heavily experienced in grass roots sales and have led sizeable organizations from a C-level.
Your sales team must know the difference between the digital sales process and the physical sales process.
By now most businesses own a CRM and an automated marketing software platform of some kind. Most businesses have mapped the online lead generation process even if that is only with a basic contact web form or lead magnet.
However, very few SMB’s have trained their sales team on the huge difference between the digital and physical sales process. In the physical sales process (live events, face-to-face, brick-and-mortar, phone calls) the salesperson has an edge. The salesperson controls the conversation and can evaluate the voice inflections and body language. In the digital sales process the salesperson needs to understand their role is now to answer product and service questions because more than likely the prospective customer has done extensive research and has made up their mind.
“The point is that consumer habits change – and often shift with advancements in technology. ” ~ Digital Marketing Institute. Social Selling has changed the sales process landscape just like billboards did, yellow pages did and telemarketing did. Social selling has gained the attention of sales professionals looking to succeed.
There is no shortage of digital technologies to choose from that can help to improve the selling power of any business. However, plug and play is not a strategy! There needs to be a digital selling strategy in place. Entering data into a CRM that blasts emails is not a strategy, that is an illegal marketing tactic! Instead, a well thought our marketing strategy and an educated sales team, that is guided by the organization as a whole, will ensures the digital assets are aligned with sales activities that drive traffic and revenue.
How a salesperson can excel in the digital world.
Just as the top sales professionals and marketing agencies excelled 50 years ago is much like they do today. The top 20% outwork and outthink the rest! The bottom 80% are still reading a printed newspaper most of the morning just waiting for the leads to ask to buy. I call them order takers!
In the digital world, sales professionals need to learn and perfect certain skills to become a successful digital selling machine.
- Research. The view of the customer is critical as discussed previously in this article (Understanding Why People Buy). Research their problem, their needs and their wants! Do not assume or take for granted. 65% of companies who exceed lead and revenue goals have updated their buyer personas within the last six months. More importantly they have trained their sales professional what to do with that data!
- Constant content creation. Since most buyers today do their research on the product or service they need, finding facts and valuable information is critical to the buyers research. Therefore, having content that answers the questions the prospective buyer has are paramount and the need for such is non-stop. “55% of all buyers do their research via social media networks – so sharing content that speaks to a target audience is essential – Marketo.”
- Social Media Tactics. There are many social channels to choose from. Being everywhere is often not practical. Knowing where your buyer hangs out is critical. Knowing each social channel functionality and capabilities is an absolute must.
- Knowing what the data says and does not say. A salesperson that can analyze behavioral data is a true weapon! This sales team member can be proactive and consumer friendly. Just as in the physical sales process where a relationship is valued, the digital customer has predictable behaviors and the true sale professional can pick up on that by analyzing data.
- Transparency and Trust. The consumer today wants to know it all before they sign on the bottom line. The sales professional that understands the digital media world and uses it their advantage, just as the smart shopper does, is the one who gains trust through transparency. Nurturing a customer online can go a long way to building trust and ensuring customers know as much about a seller and their company as possible. “94 percent of all consumers are more likely to be loyal to a brand when it commits to full transparency. … moms reported that they would pay more for a product with full transparency.” – Inc Magazine
- Critical Thinking. As discussed earlier in this article, consumers are looking for solutions to their problems, they do not care much about the business or the brand unless it satisfies their needs. The tools of the online trade exist for the true sales professional to monitor the online conversations based upon keywords and competitors. Tools such as Social Mention, Feedly and Buzz Sumo empower sales teams by keeping track of the such conversations. This is how the true sales professional monitors and can identify issues, pain points and recommendation requests.
In summary, very little has changed in three decades of selling. Just the tools and the form they exist. The top sales professional has adapted. The top organizations do not just establish a web site and buy an automated marketing platform. They do just as they have done for decades, they teach, train, mentor, lead and continuously adapt to understand their customers’ needs, wants, desires and methods of making decisions. Software and the associated technology are just tools!
Copyright Viral Solutions 2017
Thomas von Ahn
Chief Elephant Slayer for Viral Solutions LLC
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don’t quit.” — Conrad Hilton