In today’s fast-paced economy, digital transformation and sales are deeply intertwined.
Sales itself is undergoing transformation on a huge scale.
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According to research by Salesforce, customer expectations are soaring.
Those demands, in turn, put pressure on companies to deliver excellent customer experiences.
Sales and Marketing Trends, According to Salesforce
In their State of the Connected Customer report, Salesforce reiterated what many sales professionals already know…
The customer experience is more important than ever.
Customer Experience Trends
The customer experience isn’t just important, it grants a competitive advantage.
Here are a few findings from the report mentioned above:
- 73% of customers say that extraordinary experiences raise their expectations of other companies
- 75% expect companies to use new technologies to deliver better experiences
- 54% say it’s “harder than ever for companies to earn their trust”
- 73% say that a company’s ethics matter more than they did a year previous
And in their 5th Annual State of Marketing report, Salesforce reinforced these findings:
- 80% of customers say that their experience with a company is as important as its products and services
- 84% say that being treated like a person – not a number – is very important for winning their business
- 56% of top-performing marketers are actively mapping their customer journey across the company … versus 42% of underperformers
- High-performing marketers are 7.3X more likely to use data to use customer data to create more relevant experiences
- 69% of business buyers expect personalized “Amazon-like” buying experiences, such as personalized recommendations
However, not all of the report’s findings are restricted to customers…
Tech Trends in Marketing and Sales
Here are some interesting findings around technology’s evolving role in the sales pipeline:
- 93% of high-performing marketers have integrated marketing and advertising technology stacks
- Only 69% of underperformers have integrated technology stacks
- Between 2017 and 2018, use of AI increased 44%
- Another common trend: high-performing marketers make use of emerging technologies, such as IoT (59%), voice-activated personal assistants (49%), and virtual reality (33%)
What does all of this data tell us about the future of sales?
Digital transformation is a must.
Digital Transformation and Sales: Top Tactics and Strategies
Salesforce’s research demonstrates a few overarching trends:
- The customer experience isn’t just important, it’s a strategic differentiator
- Delivering great experiences requires a strong command of modern technology
- Top performers make use of technology to its fullest extent
What can professionals learn from this research?
Here are a few takeaways, tips, and tactics that can help businesses transform their marketing and sales functions:
1. Understand customers with technology.
According to the State of the Connected Customer report, 73% of customers expect brands to understand their needs and expectations.
In reality, though, only 51% of customers say those brands actually do understand their needs.
There are several easy tactics that can be put into action right away:
- Customer surveys – Surveys are a simple, straightforward way to learn about customer demands and wants.
- Analyze user data – Web data, software usage statistics, mobile data, and interactions in the marketing funnel can tell brands more about customers and their needs.
- Brand monitoring – Online reputation tracking, through social media, web crawlers, and other monitoring tools, is not expensive to implement. And it can offer immediate, actionable insights.
These tactics are easy to implement, and results can be seen very quickly.
However, bear in mind that the best solution is a strategic change.
That is, create business models, revenue models, and organizational strategies that are customer-first.
Without that fundamental change, you will just be applying band-aids to misdirected business models.
2. Make the most of your technology stacks.
Marketing and sales technology stacks are complex.
Salesforce itself can be challenging to learn – but when you add other marketing technologies, the picture becomes even more complicated.
That complexity can be a significant deterrent:
- Employee training may be seen as a cost center
- Employees may be reluctant to learn new technologies
- Demonstrating ROI can be difficult
Despite these concerns, mastering modern technology stacks is a must.
Here are a few benefits that highlight the importance of a fully functional technology stack:
- Faster communication with customers – which improves their experience and decreases frustration
- Multi-channel communications – because different generations prefer different communication channels
- Integrated customer experiences – customers want a journey that is unified and consistent, regardless of the media or device
These three benefits just scratch the surface.
But they illustrate how critical it is to have a fully functional, fully integrated technology toolbox.
3. Train, educate, and teach.
Today, there are a number of solutions that can help companies increase digital literacy and maximize ROI.
A few of these are:
- Digital Adoption Platforms – Digital Adoption Platforms (DAPs) are designed to facilitate employee training and onboarding. They also offer AI-driven analytics and insight into software usage. And tools such as WalkMe can automate tedious workflows.
- Learning Management Systems – Learning management systems are like content management systems. But they are designed to help enterprises implement online, in-house education programs. These platforms help companies to create courses, manage course content, track attendance, and more.
- Third-Party Training – If it seems more cost-effective, then consider outsourcing your training to a third-party. There are plenty of options when it comes to third-party education, from online software courses to certification programs.
With the right training, employees will become more effective, productive, and engaged.
In sales and marketing, this education can help improve metrics across the customer journey, decreasing costs and improving results.