To jump, or not jump – off the “digital sales cliff” without a parachute?

Jamie Shanks
Jamie Shanks

Digital sales cliff

Today I was with a Global 50 conglomerate’s learning and development (L&D) team talking about making the big plunge into digital sales. The sales team has been selling face-to-face in nearly 100% of their accounts – at the detriment of a bloated CAC (Cost of Customer Acquisition). As their L&D team puts it “we’re spending thousands to make thousands from many of our customers – it’s counter-productive”. This digital sales transformation is about to become a sweeping, universal change for the company. We’re talking about 1,000’s of sales professionals moving from 100% face-to-face, to 80% inside & 20% face-to-face with key accounts. I decided to write this blog from the voice of the customers and their key concerns about this transition.

  • Will digital replace face-to-face?

Unless you’re selling arts & crafts on Etsy, you will never win deals just on LinkedIn or video platforms like Vidyard GoVideo. The purpose of these platforms is to EARN YOUR RIGHT into the boardroom (literally)/mindshare (figuratively) of your customers. These tools will help you:

  1. Select – the right accounts to target
  2. Plan – your engagement strategy
  3. Engage – the customer in a bold and different way from your competition
  4. Activate – the accounts by segmenting your time/accounts by buying interest and committee mapping
  5. Run – campaigns against these interested accounts to book face-to-face meetings.

If you know that face-to-face meetings have the highest conversion rate for your business… then ACCELERATE that motion with higher volume and velocity sales motions like digital sales. You’re only tapping into a scaling of that sales motion.

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  • How do I even start? Where? What makes the most immediate impact?

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! Start small, start with a purpose to capture success stories. Success stories breed change in a company.

Best-in-class customers will think about the end result first. What is the ultimate business outcome (goal) you want in 90-180 days? From there, they find the sellers, tools and resources necessary to enable the sales process necessary to achieve that business outcome.

As a tactical example, let’s assume you need a business case that digital sales can create a 10% incremental sales pipeline in your business, within 180 days. That’s a tangible goal. Now you need to develop 2,3,4 sales plays that you believe will highly influence that sales objective. Nothing more. Don’t start diving into Twitter, or employee advocacy, or LinkedIn groups, or any feature/function unless you really, really think that action can create sales pipeline in 180 days. Get started on converting SUCCESSFUL sales plays you have today (like face-to-face meetings), and building digital sales plays that just book more of those! How can you start more conversations and drive more face-to-face meetings, should be the name of the program. It should be the entire objective.

  • How do I get RVP’s around the world to buy-into changing how they evaluate, manage and coach talent?

I’m a huge believer that the only way to get a sales leaders buy-in is:

A.) Show them how sales meetings are booked, right in front of their face.  They have to actually have their jaw drop and say “I want my sellers doing more of that!”
B.) Have that same sales leader actually co-design the sales plays that will be taught to their team.

Part B is so critical.  Let’s think of a close to home example of the same.  Let’s say, you’re hosting a dinner party at your house, what do you think would drive eating accountability for your guests:

A.) The 3-hour lobster dinner you labored over to make;
B.) The lobster dinner you ordered on Uber Eats 30 minutes ago.

I bet it’s option A! You would make DAMN sure your friends and family ate the meal you cooked and labored over preparing. You’d also be asking them every 15 minutes if they loved it! You would agonize over watching them eat, and their facial expressions as they take bite after bite.

Now let’s bring this back to the sales world. It’s been in my experience of working with over 300 global sales organizations that when sales leaders are involved in designing something for the sales organization they then treat it like it’s their own lobster dinner.

The bottom line, do you want to have your sales organization to have a fast food Uber Eats experience or do you want your sales leaders to labor over the meal (digital plan) so it becomes a success?

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