Three Ways Digital Transformation Trends Apply to Sales & Marketing Behavior

If you asked 10 different business leaders to describe how digital transformation applies to their business, you would probably get 10 different responses. As CMO, when I think of digital transformation, I am applying it to the buyer journey and the new way in which prospects expect to be engaged with.

According to George Westerman, principal research scientist with the MIT Sloan Initiative on the Digital Economy, digital transformation can be described as a process that “marks a radical rethinking of how an organization uses technology, people and processes to radically change business performance.” The latter part of that definition – how an organization uses technology, people and processes – is especially telling, because software or technology on its own does not impact much of anything.

A successful digital transformation strategy is just as much about changing company behaviors to adapt to customer trends, as it is about a shiny new product that promises to radicalize how an organization conducts business. With this in mind, there are a few ways businesses should consider digital-first trends in their support of marketers and sellers:

Establish data-driven content strategies

I think I can speak for my fellow marketing colleagues when I say marketing does not create content just for content creation’s sake. In its purest form, the measure of good content can often be boiled down to how well it helps advance a deal. But, unfortunately, only 38 percent of respondents in the Demand Metrics 2018 Sales Content ROI Benchmark Study Report said that content creators receive ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ feedback from sellers on the content they use. This makes it difficult to know what is working, and what is not.

That is not all that surprising when you consider the typical, manual way of sending content. There is not much feedback to be had when sellers are sending assets as attachments over email to prospects.

Sales teams should be encouraged to not rely so much on email attachments, and instead leverage new automation tools that allow for content analytics that tell marketers and sellers, down to an individual page within an asset, how interested a buyer appears to be. This has proven game changing when it comes to helping marketers refine their content strategy based on data, to better serve sellers and customers.

Ensure initial buyer interactions are digital

In an ideal scenario, your first “interaction” with a prospect should be digital. The more data and analytics you have on a prospect before your next interaction – be it over the phone or in person – the more fruitful, engaging and positive it will be.

In the age of the educated buyer, this is table stakes. Forty-seven percent of buyers view 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales representative. This makes the creation of quality content critical. Content cannot be jammed full of generic messages, buzz words, or nonspecific information that does not help a prospect better under the solution to their challenge. This applies whether the content is consumed digitally, via an ad or a website, or an initial sales interaction. After all, most initial sales interactions are digital, too, so regardless of how the message is delivered, it must be custom.

Be flexible in how sales and marketing material is shared and consumed

The way we share and consume content today is vastly different than that of a decade ago. Whether binge watching a new Netflix show in one sitting from the couch or sharing an article to Facebook that really hit home, people are used to consuming content on their own terms. Why should the way sales people are expected to leverage content in business environments be any different?

Work is no longer confined to the four walls of an office and the hours between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday through Friday. Which means, neither should the way content is made available to salespeople. Sales content must be easy to access on-the-road and within the CRM or similar platform where sales spends their time. In fact, the 2018 Demand Metric study found that 61 percent of respondents’ sales content was used after it was automatically distributed through a CRM, compared to 44 percent that was distributed manually.

Content flexibility and automation should most certainly also extend to how prospects are engaging with your marketing material. It is not uncommon for buyers to do their own research and comparisons of a company against its competitors, before even engaging with a sales rep. This emphasizes the need for accessible, value-driven and relevant marketing material that addresses specific challenges and helps with decision-making. If you’re not delivering that, your competitors will be more than happy to fill in the gaps.

In response to customer expectations, digital transformation trends are undoubtedly changing how sellers and marketers are expected to behave. It is up to today’s business leaders to empower salespeople and marketers with the tools and room for change, to meet these new demands for more precise and informed customer interactions.

This week’s post is by guest author, John Raguin, CMO of Seismic, a B2B marketing and sales enablement software that equips global sales teams with the knowledge, messaging, and personalized content proven to be the most effective for any buyer interaction.