Millions of articles and videos online inform us about how digitalization is shaking up the business world, so it’s clear that sales is going to have to change to keep pace. But what isn’t clear is how a company is supposed to “do” digital sales. Once you’ve cut through all the buzzwords, what does a digital sales process look like? Here’s a quick overview of some key elements that every digital sales process should incorporate.

Online Lead Generation

The website is your home base for lead generation, the nucleus of your digital presence. Your company social media accounts should be prominently linked to the main page so that interested visitors can follow you. Use an informative blog and post content regularly to attract traffic, and make high-end content available to download in return for contact information. To ensure that visitors take action and don’t just passively skim through your material, combine calls-to-action (CTAs) with contact options. “Talk to us now!” “Chat with us!” and “Got a question? We’d love to hear from you!” are all inviting ways to turn visitors into leads.

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Sales Team

To take full advantage of these digital leads, a successful sales team needs to take on a range of new activities. For starters, they need to embrace new technologies as they become available and learn to use them to reach new customers. Reaching new customers also needs to be approached in a wholly new way: in addition to contacting people through social media and using the LinkedIn Sales Navigator, they should also create and post their own material. By establishing a distinct voice online and providing insights into the issues confronting target clients, sales people can establish themselves as thought leaders. When prospects are considering a solution, they feel much more comfortable talking with someone whom they regard as an expert. Once a lead has been generated through either the website or a social media channel, the sales team needs to respond within a matter of hours and, depending on the qualification of the lead, be ready to present a virtual demo within a matter of days. In the best case scenario, such activities are covered by various individuals whose abilities and skills complement one another.

Virtual Qualification, Nurturing, Presenting

Traveling back and forth costs time and money, both of which are finite resources. To save more of both, a truly digital approach needs to have a plan to nurture and qualify leads in a virtual setting. The first step is to develop range of customer personas so that potential leads can be separated quickly from the mass of downloads, likes and shares based on personal details. The qualification scheme also needs to be adjusted to account for the level of interest associated with the type of online interaction. This will largely be dependent on the type of content you develop: a download of a highly detailed case study relevant to your target customer in return for contact details may signify a hot lead, while the download of an industry relevant whitepaper is a cold lead. The latter is certainly worth noting but more effort should be expended on developing a relationship with the former. Over time detailed customer buying journeys should be developed for each customer persona. This will help sales reps to understand what issues their prospects are considering at different junctures and facilitate productive conversations. If used correctly, the sales person will be able to develop urgency based on these pain points and speed up the purchasing decision. However, developing urgency is about more than words and numbers—body language and facial expressions are essential to delivering a good demo and developing a strong connection with a client. Therefore sales people need to be able to give outstanding virtual demos; their virtual presentations need to have the same power that their on-site presentations would have. This is no small challenge but there are some tips and tricks that sales people can use to improve their virtual presentation skills.

Connecting—By Whatever Means Necessary

While the term digitalization gets thrown around a lot, it’s important as a sales manager not to lose sight of what’s really important: establishing a connection with the client and demonstrating the value that your solution can deliver. Mail, email, magazine ads, downloadable content, social media—all are examples of attempts to connect with clients. With regard to sales, digitalization is about providing your team with new and more effective methods for reaching customers. Any step that helps your organization to do that deserves a place in your sales process.