Strengthening digital channels and the sales process

Over the past few years, sales prospects have begun doing more and more independent research to create their own opinions and analysis, rather than relying on only the information presented by salespeople. The trend is no different post-sale: customers prefer to address as many questions as possible through digital channels instead of speaking to a live person. COVID-19 has only accelerated this trend, as in-person interactions have been replaced with video conferencing, creating even greater comfort with digital interactions. Therefore, now more than ever, strengthening your digital channels for sales and customer service is critical. According to a recent McKinsey B2B sales survey, “Looking forward, B2B companies see digital interactions as two to three times more important to their customers than traditional sales interactions.”

Digital as part of the sales process

In considering the increasing shift to digital, it’s almost easier to talk about what the shift should not be. That is, it’s not simply a matter of taking your existing electronic material and putting it on your website. The whole sales experience needs to be reimagined. Below are two important elements to consider when beginning the journey.

  1. Think about the experience first: Consider how you anticipate customers will want to interact with you digitally versus in person. Document that journey to understand what kinds of digital content should be developed and the type of interaction mechanisms, such as email and chat, you’ll require. Imagining the process in this way provides an opportunity to not only “inform” customers but also delight them at the same time. Moving from inform to delight gives you the chance to provide a better experience than your competition and increase your win rates.
  2. Focus on consistency: Equally important to delighting the customer is consistency — that is, all of the digital interactions should be consistent in content and brand tone, and across devices. If a customer has a great experience on the website but then struggles on a mobile device, the inconsistency can create frustration and lead to an erosion of confidence. Confidence can also be eroded if product information is presented inconsistently. In its simplest form, this can happen when a website is updated in one section but not another — and the challenge becomes even more complex as the product features grow and associated benefits expand.

Digital as part of the post-sales process

Digital can play a significant role in the post-sales process as well. There is already a lot of content online dedicated to the importance of digital self-serve, including website FAQs, chatbots and online forums, to name a few. For this article, we remain focused on the sales process — that is, how can the connection post-sale not only provide a great customer experience but also drive opportunities for further cross-selling or upselling?

Here are three important elements to consider as part of the post-sales customer experience to drive further sales opportunities.

  1. Track the interaction data: Tracking and categorizing the types of questions customers are asked (particularly through a CRM) can provide a mechanism to create upselling or cross-selling opportunities with clients. For example, if your product is a particular kind of financial software and you are receiving a lot of questions in regards to Shopify integration, this can be a great opportunity to promote your integration module to those customers. It gives an inside sales rep a direct script and pain point for following up with the customer and developing interest.
  2. Leverage customer advocacy: A great digital customer experience continues to drive customer confidence and trust in the product post-sale. Leverage that brand goodwill to design an experience that makes it easy for customers to advocate for your product. For example, encourage them to post on your company’s LinkedIn Make it easy for them to promote the great experience they had with your product as a way to drive greater interest in the marketplace.
  3. Measure progress: As you work to strengthen your post-sales digital channels, ensure you are measuring the progress. Of course, assessing customer satisfaction is critical (and perhaps something you are already doing), but you should measure the number of leads being generated from your digital interactions as well. In the software industry, for example, the customer success group is in charge of managing customers post-sale. Part of their responsibility is to drive customer service qualified leads (CSQLs) — the better the digital experience, the more CSQLs will be generated. Measuring in this way can help you understand where additional digital resources can be allocated to generate a higher return on investment.

No matter where you are on your digital journey, investing more to strengthen your digital channels is critical to support your sales team, both pre- and post-sales.