At Vlocity, Mark leads the company’s global Customer Strategy team, focused on helping enterprises define their digital strategies and realize maximum value from digital technology investments. With more than two decades of CRM experience, Mark has helped hundreds of customers transform their business with innovative, customer-centric approaches that incorporate the latest digital trends and technologies. Prior to Vlocity, Mark was Vice President & Head of Global Value Services at Oracle. He has also held leadership positions at Siebel Systems, iXL Enterprises (now part of SapientRazorfish), and AT&T.
Business Benefit #1 of 7 – Selling Success
Welcome to the first installment of our blog series focused on the business value of digital transformation.
Selling Success is perhaps the most important business benefit because it represents a boundless opportunity for value creation. While initiatives focused on cost savings are obviously important, there is a finite limit to their impact on the bottom line. As a wise and successful businessman (my father, David Stevens) once told me, "A company cannot save its way to prosperity.” The ability to sell more effectively, by contrast, has no ceiling and is limited only by a company’s ability to align solutions to customer needs and buying methods.
The key business benefits associated with Selling Success include the following:
- Number of leads or opportunities
- Close rate
- Sales cycle time
- Average order size
- Number of follow-on orders
There are numerous factors that contribute to effective sales and marketing in our digital world, but I’d like to focus on just three of them:
- Situational Awareness
- Guided Buying Process
- Omnichannel Buying Experience
In examining effective selling in the digital age, we’ve noticed a fundamental shift away from traditional marketing campaign tactics to more relevant and contextual one-to-one engagement. This hyper-personalized approach requires an unprecedented need for situational awareness, meaning a rich understanding of an individual’s interests, needs, propensity to buy and receptivity to hear messages at a given place and/or point in time. The underlying concepts are quite simple: Deliver messages, imagery and inherently-sharable content aligned with someone’s interests. Contact people when they are close to a point of purchase or when they are not driving or otherwise engaged. Promote offers when someone is in the right mindset (i.e., don’t promote lavish trips when someone just left a college career planning site).
But the digital technology to gain situational awareness at scale is far from simple. It requires the ability to develop a wide range of new capabilities such as social listening, customer profile enrichment, “next best action” algorithms, machine learning, digital content management, cross-channel journey tracking and physical sensing technology. For example, communicating with someone when she is (or is not) at a particular location requires mobile-enabled, location-based intelligence and real-time, self-learning algorithms to trigger the best time to communicate.
It is also important to note that situational awareness applies to customers as well as their key online influencers, who they turn to increasingly for purchase advice. And situational awareness is equally relevant in either a B2B or B2C selling context, since both scenarios benefit from establishing a deeper, human connection.
Those who succeed in providing greater contextual relevance and a more personalized level of engagement in their marketing efforts will enjoy significant improvement in the overall number of sales leads generated, increase the volume of new customers and encourage greater repeat purchases. Most companies today will say they are focused on understanding customer needs, but one must ask “Do we really understand the customer context? Are we making a meaningful emotional connection with our customers?” To truly embody this philosophy, enterprises need to make situational awareness a primary mission.
A guided buying process provides an elegant, guided flow for customers to achieve an intelligently determined and individually optimal purchase decision, whether it is choosing a new phone or selecting a health insurance plan. Used directly by customers or through selling intermediaries like brokers and sales reps, a guided buying process makes it easy to find the optimal solution to match unique requirements. For example, mobile phones are packed with a variety of features, such as storage, battery life, camera quality, display size, etc. The optimal phone choice for someone is a function of his lifestyle and preferences. Do you like to take pictures on your phone? Watch videos or listen to music? Use fitness or travel apps? Matching lifestyle with features is a great example of how a guided buying process increases relevance and subsequent close rates. A guided buying process also helps introduce more relevant items for purchase consideration, thus increasing overall average order size.
A guided flow of offers and information is a cornerstone for establishing a meaningful and impactful buying process. The ability to extend this process to an omnichannel buying experience is a game-changer. For example, a consumer interested in purchasing a new phone may start his buying journey on their current phone by clicking through reviews of the latest models and their features. He might then move to a laptop to conduct more in-depth comparative research and determine service eligibility. Finally, he might enter a retail store to try the phone out and make a purchase. As a customer progresses along this buying journey, it is important that each channel experience is “remembered” and easily accessed at every step in the journey to avoid having to restart the buying process every time a different channel is selected. By providing a seamless and consistent digital experience across channels, companies are able to reduce friction in the purchase process and dramatically improve selling success.
When it comes to digital transformation and successful selling, Vlocity has been at the forefront of applying the above principles to maximize value, reach new markets and drive enhanced customer experiences. Look no further than our first health insurance customer Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, which generated more than 5,000 new Medicare Advantage contracts during its first digitally enhanced Annual Enrollment period due to the introduction of an intuitive, easy-to-use, guided buying process and configurable automation engine.
Sky Italia eliminated its multiple legacy web portals and introduced an omnichannel selling solution that increased its conversion of web leads by more than 40 percent. By employing Vlocity’s best-in-class, industry-specific cloud applications to engage its customers in new ways, Sky has enhanced customer experience, loyalty and profitability. And because of the agile and user-friendly digital platform, call center agents are spending less time on each phone call, increasing productivity and tapping Vlocity capabilities to offer a simplified buying experience.
The culture of digital disruption has granted forward-thinking companies the opportunity to reorganize and refuel their sales and marketing strategies to better engage with prospects and customers and increase profitability. Enterprises need to continue to be vigilant around new ways of doing business and nurture their digital efforts with both investments and leadership, infusing CX into available platforms and embracing digital service solutions as they seek deeper engagements—and ultimately more effective selling opportunities—in the evolving digital-industrial economy.
Our next blog focused on the business value of digital transformation is Business Benefit #2 of 7 – Service Excellence. In the meantime, please let me know your thoughts on the topic of Selling Success.