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The Transformation of Selling through Digital Enablement [Podcast]

This week’s podcast guest is Charlene Li, Principal Analyst at Altimeter, a Prophet Company. Charlene has authored five books and is a popular keynote speaker. As an expert in social media and digital technologies, Charlene gives a lot of attention and thought to the disruption of technology on business and how companies need to evolve.

On this episode, we dig into one of Altimeter’s most recent research reports conducted by Charlene, The Transformation of Selling: How Digital Enables Seamless Selling. You’ll learn a lot about what’s in the report on this podcast, but I strongly encourage you to download it. It’s free, and there’s just no way we could cover everything in this episode.

Two years ago, Charlene realized how significantly social selling is changing. This morphed her focus of the report to include more than just social selling. It now covers the entire sales process. Tune into this episode to gain insight into the research in this comprehensive report.

New Research from the Report

It’s common knowledge that the modern buyer’s behavior has changed due to digital. Buyers have much more information available to them early in the sales process. Research shows that 67% of the buyer’s journey is complete before there is any interaction between the prospect and the brand.

Traditional silos of marketing, sales, and service need to work closer together. Charlene says the salesperson is no longer the hero - marketing and service teams participate in the process too. It can be difficult for organizations to break down silos, so Charlene says to punch through windows instead. This will help in creating a seamless buyer’s journey.

Charlene’s research shows that there are three stages of digital transformation. The first is platform integration and relates to the flow of data. The next stage focuses on how the organization is structured. It looks at how to bring the various roles together and align objectives across the business. Culture is the final stage and the number-one obstacle to transformation. During this period, organizations need to ask how to think seamlessly while focusing on the customer. Leadership must be involved in digital transformation too. 

A few brands involved in the report showed a correlation between LinkedIn’s SSI (Social Selling Index) scores and sales productivity. The SSI is a good metric to look at because it is common for different departments. Anyone with a LinkedIn account has an SSI score.

Everything has to change, including all the metrics and the hiring process, to go from a lead generation mindset to a relationship-building mindset. It’s no longer just selling, sales professionals need to have social skills and focus on the long-term relationship. The end goal with a relationship-building mindset is to do the right thing for the customer, not simply make the sale if it’s not a good fit.

The Future of the Digital Transformation of Sales

Artificial intelligence will impact the digital transformation of sales regarding the scale of how you have to engage with the customer. AI can discern what your prospect is looking for by taking their actions into account. By reviewing their history of interactions with the entire brand, and even others, AI will deliver the content that's best suited to the prospect in the moment.

Organizations need to transform to adapt to the digital transformation of selling. Charlene says in the platform integration stage, there must be alignment between marketing and sales. She also points out that marketing, sales, and service teams must be clear on the customer they’re serving.

Regarding technology, Charlene brings up an example of one organization which retooled its current marketing program to integrate it for sales instead of going out and adopting a new marketing stack.

The Transformation of Selling through Digital Enablement [Podcast] | Social Media Today

In summarizing the maturity stages of the digital transformation of selling, Charlene recommends knowing where you are and where the gaps are in your process. She also makes the point that digital transformation is often considered a marketing function, and sales is overlooked. Sales is the function where people build relationships and must be centrally involved in digital transformation.

I highly suggest you download this report to get more of Charlene’s insightful research and advice. Download it here: The Transformation of Selling: How Digital Enables Seamless Selling.

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