The State of Digital Transformation in Sales and Marketing
How is your company doing on digital transformation? There’s been a lot of talk about accelerating digital transformation recently, especially as companies look to replace in-person experiences with digitally engaging ones. If you’ve applied analytics and AI to sales forecasting, done some orchestration between channels, and automated customer journeys, you probably think you’re in good shape – but you’re still missing out on key opportunities to truly benefit from digital transformation in sales and marketing.
Beyond just applying technology to existing sales and marketing processes, digital transformation is about rethinking business practices: changing the way you develop and deliver content, engage with customers, as well as onboard and coach your sales and marketing staff.
In Valoir’s recent global digital transformation study, we looked at the level of digital transformation of more than 1300 companies across key areas of operations, including sales and marketing, service, operations, product and service development, IT, and human resources.
Although there were some differences by industry and region, one thing was clear: across organizations, marketing and sales were some of the most advanced departments in terms of digital transformation, with only IT ranking as more advanced in success in digital transformation efforts. When we delved deeper into the technologies sales and marketing were using to support their transformations, we found that:
-Nearly 30 percent of companies have adopted best-in-class technologies for real-time visibility into campaign and sales results and predictive analytics for better understanding future sales and marketing performance.
-Nearly 25 percent of companies have adopted technologies to support guided selling based on real-time customer understanding.
-One in five companies use advanced technologies to support data-driven customer segmentation.
-Fewer than 5 percent of companies have no technology efforts supporting these areas.
-There’s a clear correlation between digital transformation in areas like sales and marketing and business performance. Companies with a digital transformation score of 8 or higher had roughly twice the revenue growth rate of those with a three or lower.
There are three main reasons that sales and marketing are leading in the race for digital transformation:
–First, sales and marketing organizations were some of the first to have access to cloud applications. This enabled sales and marketing leaders to experiment with new areas of innovation (such as social media marketing, for example) at relatively low risk and cost without depending on IT or other broader management approval.
–Second, sales and marketing leaders were able to use the results from initial efforts in areas of digital innovation to make the business case for broader digital transformation, and create efforts that could be – at least initially – self-funding.
–Third, unlike some other areas of the organization, sales and marketing were able to tie their efforts back to clear bottom-line results, either in terms of increased revenues or reduced cost of sales.
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being a complete digital transformation, the average company in our study ranked a 7, so there’s still progress to be made even with the advances in sales and marketing In the sales and marketing domain, Valoir sees several key areas where many companies have yet to transform – and where transformation can produce clear business results, including:
-Integrating AI and automation into sales and marketing content development efforts. Despite applying AI and automation to segmentation, targeting, and other areas, content development – whether it’s for specific sales deals or broader lead generation campaigns – is often manual and inconsistent. Companies deploying modern content solutions for sales and marketing can increase sales and marketing productivity and consistency while accelerating time to close and building the pipeline. A modern content approach also enables sales and marketing to more rapidly introduce new products and services to market, building new revenue opportunities.
-Bringing service data and signals into the overall marketing and sales process, ensures that marketing and sales efforts are informed by service interactions and new marketing efforts can be triggered by service signals. Orchestration that includes service signals are critical for not just customer retention but for optimizing cross-sell and upsell opportunities.
-Adopting digital tools for understanding customer interaction with digital assets such as Web sites. Rather than manual development or basic A-B testing, applying digital tools and intelligent automation to understand where digital interactions are working, and where they’re not can make all customer interactions more successful. The results are more efficient Web site development and innovation, reduced abandonment rates, and reduced service costs.
-Rethinking digital coaching and training for sales. When training and coaching is personalized, data-driven, and happens in the moment, CRM becomes not just a system of record or engagement but a system of guidance. As hybrid and WFH situations continue to impact inside and outside sales organizations, real digital coaching can drive effective onboarding, increase sales of new products and accelerate deal cycles.
As companies continue to think about digital transformation, much of the basic work has been done. However, there are still significant opportunities for benefit in the last mile of sales and marketing. Looking to apply AI and automation beyond simple marketing optimization and sales forecasting can increase marketing effectiveness, reduce the cost of customer acquisition, and better position your company to compete with an increasingly digital customer experience.