Winning with digital sales: personalization from the inside out

  • Posted on April 20, 2016

digital sales

Thanks to advancements in digital technology and analytics, today’s customer experience is highly personalized. In ways that were not possible just a few short years ago, companies can “wow” customers with tailored offers, in ways that drive stronger, more profitable relationships (like some of Avanade clients such as Edenred, Rautakesko or Husqvarna). This begs the question: if companies can provide this level of personalization to their customers, why can’t they do the same thing for their employees? How can organizations apply those same principles in constructing a personalized experience to a sales and service context?

So much data, so little time

Let’s put ourselves in the salesperson’s shoes for a moment. I spent a number of years working in sales, and nothing helps you appreciate the profession like working on 100 percent commission. When paying the bills depends on your ability to close the deal – and closing the deal requires you to integrate information from disparate data sources in order to create a mental model of each customer and that person’s needs – the enormity of the challenge becomes clear. As the saying goes, time is money, and salespeople simply do not have the luxury of time to manually gather this level of insights needed to close a single deal.

Creating insights at scale to win

Gathering intelligence around the client’s objectives, strategy, business groups, as well as information on the principle buyers (LinkedIn profiles, for example) to whom one is selling is easy enough to do on a one-off basis. But what about a broader view of the buyer’s peers in other companies? To create these types of insights at scale, companies need a richer set of data and easily repeatable algorithms to identify patterns in customer buying behavior.

It’s about bringing information from a wide variety of data sources together in one place, and then delivering those insights to the salesperson in whatever form makes the most sense – whether it is in a native app or dashboard, or in the form of email alerts. Each deployment should be highly customized based on the needs of the salesperson – just like the customer experience.

Dispelling the digital sales myth

Many companies suffer from the misperception that everyone else’s digital sales strategy is really advanced, and in order to make progress you have to be very sophisticated and make big investments. In reality, we’ve found many clients are still working on mastering the basics in the digital transition. A little progress goes a long way. Small steps are better than none.

If you are looking to up-level your digital sales strategy from a data & analytics standpoint, you should be prioritizing the following:

  • Use cases over requirements – focus on a specific desired outcome; what action will you take with the information provided?
  • Speed over control – enable free and open access to information based on a “right to know” vs layers of governance and control and spoon feeding partial datasets that inhibit access to information
  • Prediction over intuition – leverage advanced analytics to forecast and predict outcomes to inform decisions rather than just “gut” reaction alone.
  • Self-service over service requests – enable direct access to information rather than entering a service request into a backlog with everyone else. Data is currency and time is money!

You don’t have to boil the ocean in your digital sales journey; focus on use case-based problems that lend value very quickly. When it comes to your investments, don’t focus on what you want, but how you want to use it. Your salespeople – and sales KPIs – will thank you.

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