While it might be hard to imagine, there was a time where everything that was sold was done so in a physical capacity. Salespeople were looked upon as a gateway—they were the experts about a product and had a presence before, during and after the transaction took place.
Nowadays, everyone is connected, albeit digitally. Consumers can learn anything they want about a product without the influence of a salesperson, simply through a few mouse clicks.
Today’s world is digitally driven. The result of this means almost all sales processes are radically different than what they were decades ago. Prospecting, meeting, questioning, negotiating—everything has changed.
Selling in the digital era means sales professionals have to rely on the use of technologies and digital tools to effectively maintain and leverage an online presence. Doing so will help you reach and engage your audience and ultimately convert your prospects into customers.
To be a successful salesperson in the digital age, you need to understand how and why digital marketing plays a significant role.
Digital marketing can be defined as any marketing effort that uses the internet of any other electronic device. Digital channels are leveraged to help connect to a business’s website or to inform about products or services. Social media, email, search engine and web development are all subdivisions of digital marketing.
Digital marketers and sales professionals share the same common goal of directing prospective customers to a business’s website. While the two go in tandem, many salespeople think they don’t have to understand every facet and nuance of digital marketing. However, to be a successful salesperson in the digital age, it is important to have a basic understanding of running digital campaigns, researching keywords and optimizing your results.
When sales teams and digital marketers work together, they streamline their efforts to hit their goals. Companies with aligned marketing and sales goals will end up increasing their revenue by better aligning their teams.
Sales professionals need to develop a strong understanding of digital media, as the internet has changed practically how we do everything. Information is distributed and consumed in many different methods, but what separates this medium from more traditional modes of communication is that information is being created by consumers. This means the role of the salesperson has changed from being transactional to consultative. This means salespeople will need to be more tech and data-savvy.
Benefits of grasping digital marketing as a sales professional
When experienced sales professional a strong grasp on the principles and practices of digital marketing, they will improve and develop the following skills:
Better understanding of your buyers
Marketers know their buyer (persona) inside and out. A persona is a somewhat fictional representation of your ideal and potential customers. This person is developed by extensive market data. Creating a persona will uncover your potential buyer’s motivations, behaviors, goals and values.
A buyer persona is one of the most essential tools for a marketer. Knowing their intents and interests will help ensure that your message will connect with them. From website content to sales emails, developing an understanding for your buyer will ultimately help you achieve your sales goals.
Better mapping the buyer’s journey
Your sales approach can’t be the same as everyone else’s. A prospect in the early stages of their buying journey has many different needs than one who is closer to the decision-making process.
The buyer’s journey can be defined as the process in which a buyer becomes aware, evaluates, then purchases a service or product. The journey typically consists of three steps.
- Awareness Stage: in this stage, the buyer knows they have a problem.
- Consideration Stage: they define their problem and research for solutions.
- Decision Stage: the buyer decides on their solution.
The buyer’s journey is a fairly straightforward process, but the digital era has made this a bit more complex. Mostly, how information is received on the buyer’s end isn’t coming from a sale’s person’s mouth. Prospects who are serious about finding a solution to their needs will rely on search engines, blogs, videos and other types of content before they make a decision. This has ultimately taken the salesperson out of the equation in many instances. Many people would rather it be that way.
Around 60 percent of online buyers would rather there be zero communication around information between them and a salesperson. So how do salespeople adapt to this new environment? The answer is simple—they need to change their strategies when it comes to having an online presence.
How sales professionals can leverage their online presence
There has been a shift in buyer’s perceptions of salespeople, as they have begun to develop their own biases and opinions. Selling in the digital age and have introduced new ways of connecting and gathering information. Since selling in the digital realm has introduced new modes of gathering information, where does the salesperson fit in the equation? How will a better understanding of this help your sales approach?
Sales professionals need to switch gears and diversify their strategies. And they can do this by thinking digitally.
Mapping out your processes and approaches to the buyer’s journey will allow you to shift your strategy in the right direction. Whether this means focusing primarily on email campaigns, or developing strong content, there needs to be extensive planning. You should connect with the right prospects on the right platforms.
One method is social selling. Social selling is all about building a connection with the audience before they even know about your product or service. Social selling can garner more opportunities than non-social sellers. With this method, you will provide resources to your audience. Most of it will be informational content, however, over time, you will establish yourself as a trusted expert in your field. This makes you look less like you are shilling products through your platforms. LinkedIn is one of the most important platforms for any sales professional, especially when it comes to social selling.
Delivering your content at the opportune time will help you understand what information your buyers are looking for. As you learn more about your buyers’ behavior, you will learn what information should be shared with them. When you have an understanding of the last piece of information they received, you will start mapping out how and when is the right time to deliver future content.
Search Engine Optimization
One of the most important modes of digital marketing is SEO. Since most consumers are receiving their information through search engines, they typically lookup solutions to their problems, rather than searching out a specific company name. Optimizing your site will typically be the responsibility of a marketing team, rather than a salesperson. But a salesperson can gain valuable knowledge about their buyer’s intentions through the research the marketing team has done.
Consumer behavior research has shown that trust is one of the most essential elements when creating an intent to purchases. When a person has high trust in someone, they are more likely to take a risk or engage with others.
To gain trust, a buyer must come across content on your website. Well-written content will always perform better in Google’s rankings. And the higher the ranking, the more likely someone will stumble across your website.
When a buyer feels that they have found a credible company, they will believe the product or service will be able to solve their solution. Therefore, as sales teams develop their strategies, it is imperative that they consider the fundamentals of SEO and creating content that people will click on.
No sales professional can be as successful in the current age without developing a proper understanding of digital marketing. While professional sales training will always benefit your sales team, grasping the fundamentals of the digital realm is just as crucial.