Jan 29, 2018

7 Ways to Create a Digital Sales Culture from the Top-Down

Far too many executives think their organization has an effective sales strategy in place, yet, the one they rely on has largely remained unchanged despite the digital evolution that has occurred around it.

Before any company can hope to fully leverage a digital sales strategy, there needs to be a commitment from leadership. This top-down approach ensures alignment with business objectives. Just as important, though, it guarantees sufficient time for implementation.

This is why building a digital culture has now become a matter of survival. It’s no longer if digital disruption may someday affect your company. It’s a matter of when.

In this article, we explore 7 effective ways to build and embed a digital culture in your organization from the top-down.

1. Assess the Current Culture & Identify Areas to Improve

The first step is to simply evaluate your company’s culture in its current form. This will enable you to understand the level of adoption and knowledge in-house that can facilitate a digital culture. Once you do that, you can begin finding where it needs to improve as part of its digital transformation.

Strategies to achieve that include:

  • Talk to the sales team as a whole to get an overview of digital capabilities, awareness and perceived support from the top-down
  • Send out surveys to sellers at all levels both in the office and field sales to assess their opinion of digital and ways that its implementation can be improved or even introduced
  • Conduct an audit on the digital tools and platforms used within the company and assess what is being utilized and what is redundant
  • Interview senior executives to understand current capabilities and perception of the digital culture
  • Create a vision of culture for the sales department that is shared widely with feedback mechanisms in place

Carrying out these various strategies will help to feed into the creation of or refinement of a digital culture that boosts productivity, empower sellers and drives sales.

2. Create Digital Champions and Ambassadors

Create Digital Champions and Ambassadors

According to Capgemini, while 4 in 10 senior-level executives believe their firms have a digital culture, only 27% of employees surveyed actually agreed. This difference between perception and reality shows the need for buy-in at the senior level in order for a digital transformation to be successful. Anything other than full support is going to hurt its progress.

Ideally, you want one or more 'digital champions' at a senior level who will help lead the charge. It should be someone who is not only passionate about the impact of digital but also an individual that uses it.

This could be a simple as having a professional and well developed LinkedIn profile that provides content that is valuable to customer, investors and staff or a key decision maker that plays a key role in sponsoring a social selling program in-house.

This commitment to digital at a senior level will inspire sales teams to learn how to use digital tools and use them to both engage and influence customers at all stages of the customer journey.

3. Benchmark Skills

The digital age has changed and keeps changing sales. To keep pace, your sales team needs to change along with it. This will entail acquiring certain skills and improving others.

Skills required will most likely be those that enable social selling as it has proven its worth in customer engagement and driving revenue. Along with 61% of organizations that engage in social selling reporting a positive impact on revenue, 65% of buyers felt the vendor's content has an impact on their final purchase decision.

From a leadership perspective, digital selling is an often overlooked but key element that will feed into a digital culture. It involves a range of strategies that work together to achieve one goal such as sales enablement, social content, strategy and integration and CRM.

Harnessing digital technologies to sell requires a unique set of skills and as platforms keep changing, the skills of sellers and sales leaders need to too. So, benchmark the skills of all staff involved in the sales process from the top-down to ascertain a starting point from which to work from.

4. Provide Tailored Workshops

Once the skills of relevant staff have been benchmarked the next stage is to provide tailored workshops that can address the specific needs of all employees. A one-size-fits-all approach to learning may work to provide fundamental knowledge of digital, but when practical and niche experience is required a specialized approach is necessary.

For example, Sales Directors and Leaders are more likely to need knowledge of strategy and planning, sales enablement and integration as opposed to a seller dealing with customers. From a customer perspective, sales professionals need to understand digital research, how to use relevant online platforms, CRM management and when and how to use content.

These discrete skills require workshops at different levels that provide the know-how required to ensure the digital strategy is executed successfully and all roles are playing a role in embedding a digital culture.

5. Provide Flexible Training

Align Offline & Online Activities

Workshops are excellent opportunities for your staff, but they’re far from the only way to help your people hone their skills. Equally important is offering digital sales training through a portal that’s open 24/7.

Most companies have some form of mandatory training, but the problem is that these lessons are only offered once. If an employee wants to brush up or review some of the material, they’re generally left to ask their co-workers for help which is far from ideal.

Instead, offering e-learning materials that can be accessed whenever and wherever by your employees makes a lot more sense. This level of accessibility is one of the reasons 98% of companies intend to use e-learning over the next two years.

As much as possible, utilize this kind of digital sales training to support your company’s transformation.

6. Align Offline & Online Activities

While social selling clearly has a lot of potential, you still need to consider your company’s essential offline activities. In essence, you want your offline and online activities to complement one another.

By engaging customers at multiple touchpoints - email, chat, video and social media - your sales team can provide a valuable and seamless experience. An omnichannel marketing approach like can provides customers with a uniform approach across every channel and from a cultural perspective, it engages sellers at various points in the journey.

According to research by Worldpay, omnichannel shoppers spend somewhere between 50-300% more than traditional shoppers. So a well-informed CEO will act on that information and requires an effective sales team to know the latest technologies to understand and leverage consumer information collected during multichannel interactions.

Instituting a digital culture doesn’t mean you completely forego your offline activities. However, it does mean new procedures, strategies and ways or working are required to integrate new procedures that bring these two activity types into alignment.

7. Encourage Collaboration

According to SiriusDecisions, B2B companies with tightly-aligned sales and marketing teams enjoyed revenue growth that was 24% faster and profit growth that was 27% faster over a three-year period. Here are 4 other ways to encourage collaboration throughout your company:

  • Hire for It – Going forward, consider placing less emphasis on hiring people who are competitive and more focus on those who know how to succeed as team players. Make sure people with a strong track record of collaboration at your company are part of the interview process.
  • Emphasize Collaboration During Onboarding – While hiring collaborative people is a good first step, emphasize its importance during their initial months with the company. If they enter what seems to be a highly-competitive environment, they may decide to drop their collaborative spirit so as not to lose their job.
  • Offer Mentoring Opportunities – Mentoring can be an extremely powerful method of supporting collaboration throughout your organization. Encourage people who are already adept at social selling and other skills required by your digital culture to mentor those who need help.
  • Use It as a Metric – Finally, no amount of lip service is going to convince employees to adopt a collaborative attitude if it doesn’t actually affect their prospects. Aside from just hiring for it, consider collaborative abilities in promotional choices too.

The above 7 methods for embracing and embedding a digital culture can't be carried out overnight. It will take time and effort. There will almost certainly be a good amount of trial and error, too.

Most importantly, though, it will take the full support of everyone at your company, especially at a senior level. It's not possible to meander into creating a digital culture. Treat it as a top priority and it will be much easier to achieve. By doing so, your company will enjoy a massive advantage over any competitors who haven’t invested in the same undertaking.

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