Digital transformation is yet to come: The sales and marketing perspective

At the moment, digital transformation is a buzzword when it comes to sales and marketing functions for a business. Here's how to change that.
15 May 2018

As I finish a 12-day 4-country speaking tour which brought me to Japan, Bahrain, Canada, and my native United States, I reflect upon this terminology that has become so prevalent in business yet followed by so few companies: The Digital Transformation.

Digital Transformation will ultimately affect every company in every industry because of almost every customer – and certainly every consumer – becomes predominately digital with time.

The Digital Transformation is a term that can be used throughout the organization, but if businesses need to adapt to the ever-changing digital consumer, I would argue that the digital transformation of their sales and marketing organization should be the first priority.

Your Customer is All Over Digital. Why Aren’t You?

From a sales perspective, you have to be where your customer is. The way that we communicate with each other as well as consume information has changed dramatically over the last decade. All data points to the fact that we spend more time online, whether we are on our computers, tablets or smartphones than watching TV. Furthermore, the number one activity we do when we are online is – drum roll please – social media.

It should be no surprise, then, that numerous data points hint that those salespeople who utilize social media outperform those who don’t.

If social media is free to use and allows you to engage with our customer where they are, why isn’t every salesperson encouraged to leverage social media more as part of the sales process?

There are numerous resources that have stepped up to help organizations.

I have worked together with Rutgers Business School here in the United States to create the first executive education program on leading your sales employees through the digital transformation.

I, and a few others like me, also provide social selling training workshops for large corporate sales teams. Studies have shown that when sales teams are properly trained they adopt social selling quite effectively, but very few companies provide them the training.

Why are sales teams so late in adapting to the digital transformation?

Ad Spend is Already Digital First. Why Isn’t Your Marketing?

Last year was a turning point in the advertising world. First ad spend on Google and Facebook was reported to have eclipsed the advertising revenues of all radio, newspaper, and magazine companies around the worldwide combined.

Then the inevitable was announced: Digital ad revenues surpassed those of television for the first time.

Clearly, advertising executives understand the digital transformation and they are matching consumer changes in kind with ad spend.

The problem is that this perspective doesn’t seem to go beyond the way that advertising budgets are spent. If our number one activity on digital is social, why does social still comprise less than 20% of marketing spend?

Furthermore, the digital consumer is everywhere but companies aren’t. There are many companies who ignore what many consider to be the 2nd largest social network, Instagram, while they have a presence on social networks with only a fraction of the userbase.

When companies are on social media, they tend to sell instead of being seen as a resource and friend. They are still posting photos that look like ads while average people become influencers because they can better engage with people than brands can.

Businesses need to be nimble in the digital age of today to maintain mindshare. A good example is what I previously wrote about how many small businesses in the Middle East have flocked to Instagram.

Those that undergo the digital transformation from a sales and marketing perspective will be the winners in the new economy, while those who continue to ignore it will have to find other ways to maintain their market share and presence in the ever-digital world of today.