Salesforce’s 2020 Edition of The State of Sales reports that 79% of sales reps say they’ve had to quickly adapt to new ways of selling, as they seek to gain access to new buyers and support customer growth in a completely new environment and across often less than familiar platforms and channels.
At the same time, B2B buyers have come to expect a level of personalized, consistent experience similar to what they get from leading consumer brands. These types of positive, connected experiences happen when teams have meaningful context about each customer to help build a relationship that gets stronger with every interaction.
Modern teams recognize that every business unit along the customer’s journey, from sales to service and support, is responsible for impacting revenue. Therefore, when you can leverage technology to combine everyone’s powers into a cohesive, modern revenue team — this is what truly builds a sustainable revenue model. Welcome to the Revenue Era.
Below we examine 5 reasons why digital sales models are here to stay.
1. Digital sales technology is changing faster than ever before.
It began when we first moved from door-to-door or in-person sales to inside sales, starting in the 1950s with what’s known today as telemarketing. Over the years, this field evolved to involve much more than merely placing calls to a long list of numbers, hoping to sell something over the phone.
In sales, the pace of change has never been as fast as it is now. Perhaps the most significant evolution has to do with advancements in sales technology. Digital sellers represent a new technology-savvy breed of sales reps who understand how to leverage emerging tools, channels, and strategies dominating the modern sales arena.
Digital selling has proven to be more effective too. According to Forbes, sales executives say the top benefits of digital transformation are improved operational efficiency (40%), faster time to market (36%), and the ability to meet customer expectations (35%). With access to real-time data and the right tools to enable their workflows, reps will be better equipped to handle the day-to-day functions of an inside sales position.
The role of digital sales has transformed significantly since its initial foothold in the 1950s. These changes will become even more pronounced in the coming decade and force organizations across all industry verticals to rethink their sales strategy and focus on their talent and resources.
2. The type of company investing in digital sales is broadening.
As with most technology, early adopters are often those with capital to invest in such emerging solutions. But now, SaaS makes it possible for companies of all sizes to leverage digital selling tactics.
TechTarget reports that 63% of leaders said the pandemic made their organization(s) embrace digital transformation sooner. Beyond the global health crisis, several factors influence a company’s decision to invest in digital sales, outside sales, or a hybrid model.
The typical elements that encourage a company to invest in setting up a successful digital selling motion are:
- Costs associated with lead generation and revenue growth
- The complexity of the product or sales process
- The average size of deal and target account segments
- Understanding how to best present a product or solution
- Management perception of effectiveness in each sales model
- Product margins and competition within the space
- Coverage capabilities related to the Total Addressable Market (TAM)
Both start-ups and high-growth companies know that with each year’s success and quota attainment come bigger goals and more difficult growth challenges. Suppose a company is in its infancy and looking to grow fast. In that case, the leaders in that organization will typically utilize as many options as possible to improve its presence in the market, generate pipeline, and position it as a strong target for a significant acquisition. To compete with larger competitors, a new company often needs to pull as much efficiency as possible from a comparatively lean sales force.
High-growth start-ups have proven this model to work when focusing on both account acquisition and account penetration. And since COVID-19, all business types have, at a minimum, proven a hybrid model can perform as well as in-office for a majority of roles across sales, service, support, and operations.
More established companies are less about coverage in new markets and more about maintaining market share by optimizing account management and engaging current accounts effectively to continue expansion. Minimizing costs to maximize revenue growth is also the main priority for organizations with a strong market presence. The goal here is typically to develop a less expensive and more scalable revenue model.
3. B2B customer acquisition costs are high, so retention becomes critical.
According to Semrush, the average loyal customer spends 67% more in their 31st month with a brand than in their first six months of the relationship. For many B2B companies, customer longevity is the name of the game. It’s no wonder, given customer acquisition costs (CAC) can often be 11% or more of total revenue, that sustainable revenue models rely on consistent customers that stay and grow with your brand.
Many B2B industries know that customer acquisition costs are high, which makes customer retention such a critical component of building sustainable revenue within the organization. In other words, it’s expensive to attain a customer, so be sure to keep them through the point they are profitable.
To do this, modern teams are realizing that a holistic approach is the answer. As Salesforce reports, 89% of sales professionals say the revenue operations role is critical in growing the business. Yet, 59% of B2B buyers feel like they’re communicating with separate departments, not one company.
By unifying all sides of the house, all parties that handle a portion of the customer’s experience can be aligned and rowing in the same direction. Ultimately, the customer wins with a better experience, higher satisfaction, and a stronger likelihood to refer your brand to a colleague. And your company wins with more streamlined customer operations from end-to-end, and more reliable revenue, and a process that’s easier for everyone.
4. Digital revenue teams get more done, with fewer costs, and better work-life balance.
COVID brought to light for many sales leaders, something brewing under the sales waters for years. Teams quickly realized they didn’t need to hop on a plane to ink a deal. It also underlined how many of the associated sales tasks were actually unnecessary or actually frustrating the process.
Even before COVID, business travel caused work-life balance challenges; customers didn’t necessarily need (or want) all that face-time, it was overly expensive, difficult to track, and far less controllable.
With 82% of B2B decision-makers thinking sales reps are unprepared, this leaves a massive opportunity for digital selling teams equipped with the proper customer engagement technology and customer context. With a powerful enough stack, your digital sales reps and teams can more than 4x their productivity and effectiveness when compared to traditional field sales counterparts.
Teams are realizing what can be done remotely and what is possible to achieve with digital channels. Hybrid office environments are bringing about a new sales era, one that brings a holistic focus on the customer, looking at their entire journey across their experience with your company, from sales to service to support and back again through renewals and expansions.
5. Digital sales tools enable high-context engagement, which strengthens customer relationships.
Once a customer signs on the dotted line, there’s a hurdle of customer engagement steps ahead. From onboarding, implementation, and training to ongoing support, renewals, and expansions — each stage of a customer’s journey represents potentially hundreds of interactions across multiple team members and customer contacts and departments.
More often than not, teams miss critical information at key customer hand-off points, and this causes a misguided and disconnected experience for employees and customers alike. Salesforce reports that 59% of B2B buyers feel like they’re communicating with separate departments, not one company.
Every customer interaction represents valuable contextual information that can be extremely powerful when harnessed. But, with the tedious nature of most CRM structures, many valuable interactions happen but don’t get logged.
Focusing on foundational capabilities like CRM automation, activity logging, and sales engagement can significantly impact your sales team’s success. Studies show a positive relationship between how many conversations a rep can have in a day and how fast (or if) they reach their quota. Nuanced information like customer sentiment, interaction outcomes, and suggested next steps can be standardized and operationalized with the right sales engagement tool.