Digital Sales Transformation in a Customer-First World


The goal is to create a living, breathing plan to provide value at every touchpoint in the company with a dynamic and collaborative plan that puts the customer at the center.

Enterprise sales organizations are being disrupted by the rapid pace of change and the rise of the empowered customer. Continually shifting parts and a transforming sales ecosystem mean that there is an added level of complexity for revenue teams looking to execute on qualified opportunities and meet sales quotas. But as sales professionals watch the industry landscape change under their feet, they are also acutely aware of the digital sales transformation taking place internally across organizations.

Some companies take a plug-and-play approach to facilitating this transformation by dropping disparate technologies and platforms into sales processes with the hope that more technology means better results. In fact, a successful transformation begins with using technology to create a customer-first, repeatable methodology that accounts for culture, internal revenue teams, and the many variables that contribute to make a successful sales equation.

One Size Does Not Fit All

One of the biggest mistakes made by sales leaders is assuming that all customers are created equal. It’s as if they expect some alchemist to stir a magic potion and to serve up cookie-cutter customers, each with the same level of technical savvy, common approach to risk, and similar awareness of their needs.

This is one of the fundamental misconceptions of the digital sales transformation taking place in the industry today: Sales leaders think they can drop some new technology into the sales process and that format can be repeated for each customer.

See also: More Than Personal: Customer Experiences in the Post-Digital Age

Initiating a digital sales transformation starts with improving sales execution and exceeding targets by educating not just the sales team, but the entire revenue team – marketing, sales, operations, and customer success – on the customer’s goals. At its foundation is an emphasis on creating a new approach in the entire organization that inverts the thinking from ‘customer strategy’ to ‘customer’s strategy.’ Starting from organizing around the customer and their desired outcome is critical to success.

But transforming to this approach that starts with the customer requires new capabilities for sales leaders and the entire revenue team to optimize revenue. Executing a customer revenue optimization strategy requires methodology, process, and business rules to be integrated into existing CRM tools to build a repeatable model driven by guided selling. Guided selling is about understanding the customer – each individual and his or her problems – and giving the team insight on what to do next. Sales leaders need to ensure that any new technology built into the pipeline accelerates skill development and helps improve sales reps’ execution and performance.

Revenue Teams Need Data Consistency

Part of the challenge of changing the approach is that it often requires a shift in the mindset of the sales organization regarding the way they think about the customer. Companies need to move from an inside-out “What am I going to sell today” mindset to an outside-in mindset of “What problem is the customer trying to solve, and how can we help?” Once everyone gets focused on the customer’s desired needs and outcomes, they are much more likely to craft the right solutions and unlock long-term value for the customer and their organization.

One of the key steps in this process is understanding that it’s not just the data from sales outcomes that is important, but also the data and information being shared from all stakeholders on the revenue team at each customer touchpoint. This includes not just historical purchase data, but customer success, operations, and marketing data as well.

Ultimately, building account plans focused on customer goals and bringing the data assets together from across the organization will provide insights not just for the sales reps, but for the other stakeholders as well. The goal is to create a living, breathing plan to provide value at every touchpoint in the company with a dynamic and collaborative plan that puts the customer at the center.

Let the Customer’s Culture Drive Sales Methodology

A company, its personality, culture, business outlook, market position, business pressures, and consequent buying proclivities, are in fact attributable to the company itself as well as the employees. Companies, like people, have personalities and culture. It is not sufficient to consider just one or the other.

Creating a methodology that accounts for differences in these personalities and cultures, from customer to customer, can be difficult without the right tools to facilitate insights. To create these insights, sales leaders should be looking for technology that has the right balance between data and the human touch. This includes implementing a data-driven approach that augments human intelligence with AI and leveraging predictive data analytics to complement the talent of individual sellers. For instance, while it’s reasonable to expect that companies of similar profile might make parallel purchases of similar products, specific peculiarities of the culture in one company might lead a sales rep down a different path. Building in data points that can help these reps look at customers that may be similar on the surface and immediately discern the individual nuances in needs could be the difference between a successful deal or a lost one.

Digital Sales Transformation Today

Most sales team leaders today will be the first to admit that wading through the different options for technology tools to improve sales performance can be exercises in extreme frustration.

The truth, building a customer revenue optimization strategy and transforming sales for the digital world is a journey and requires the understanding that while technology is the key to the lock, the methodology, strategy, and customer-first mindset comprise the door, frame, and hinges. The digital sales transformation driving the industry is based on data-driven intelligence, information sharing, and internal revenue team alignment.

It spans all touchpoints for the customer, from the sales rep to the product line manager. This customer-first world is the new paradigm, and finding the right tools is what will push sales operations over the top.

Anthony Reynolds

About Anthony Reynolds

Anthony Reynolds is CEO of Altify

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