As sales and marketing teams adapt to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re all adjusting to new modes of operation as we try to stay productive, connected, and successful.
One lesson the global quarantine has taught us: the value of digital sales transformation. Specifically, it’s urgent for sellers to change our communication habits and embrace the digital world to stay connected and carry on.
At Grapevine6, we began helping customers prepare for a shift to digital sales transformation a few years ago. Here are two key reasons.
#1: Conventional content marketing approaches aren’t cutting it anymore. For one thing, customers have stopped trusting what brands say about themselves; they trust what other people say about the brands through peer advocacy and peer reviews. Second, too much content has created noise and made it difficult for brands to stay relevant.
#2: Social has emerged as a source of trusted information. Many forward-looking companies like Guardian Life Insurance Company, SAP, and others recognized the shift to social as a source of trusted information in the buyer’s journey.
Harvard Business Review reported 82 percent of the seller’s social content had a significant impact on their client’s buying decision. They turned to digital programs to address the issue of brand authenticity and to help their business leaders and customer-facing employees create engaging and valuable conversations with their future clients. These social selling initiatives enabled salespeople to build out authentic and professional (yet personal) brands online, create authentic connections with their networks, and provide engaging, valuable content to their buyers.
The True Value of Digital Sales Transformation
The sheer volume of available content creates two primary challenges:
- How do we enable our salespeople to efficiently find the right content at the right time to advance sales conversations in digital?
- How do many companies – especially the ones that represent highly-regulated industries such as financial services – ensure the content and conversations don’t create more problems than they solve by introducing reputational or regulatory risk?
The answer to both questions – managing relevance and risk at scale – is artificial intelligence (AI), specifically AI-powered technology. These tools collect large amounts of content, analyze it for compliance, and personalize it for each user’s profile based on their personal preferences.
Those profiles can be further personalized by monitoring the engagement with content over time. This approach, powered by mature AI, takes the pain and risk out of content curation and compliance, freeing up the valuable resources for more strategic and creative tasks by sales and marketing.
Now’s the Time to Embrace Digital Selling
Digital transformation of sales was always a good idea, but it was never an urgent one. In March 2020, however, it became a pressing issue – moving digital selling from “nice to have” to vital.
As we adapt, survive, and learn, we are accelerating this change. Most companies have to embrace digital selling in the short term or risk a collapse in commerce. Ignoring social and digital selling also creates the long-term risk of falling hopelessly behind competitors. Combine that urgency with the understanding that most behaviors are very difficult to change and change back. It’s apparent that investing in digital selling as an organizational capability and mandate is critical now and will be in the foreseeable future.