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Sales: The Oft-Neglected Piece of Digital Transformation

June 28, 2021
Ignoring the digital customer experience is leaving money on the table.

The pandemic propelled many companies into a digital transformation that they may not otherwise have considered. Yes, it’s been unexpected, but I see this imposed acceleration as a gift that will transform into growth immediately and in the near future.

A key part of this digital transformation is the development of a mature, customer-driven digital sales offering to respond quickly to shifts in demand and identify leads quickly and efficiently. B2B customers are increasingly becoming accustomed to a digital purchasing experience in other sectors. Yet many industrial companies are still not in tune with that trend.

Accenture recently surveyed 500 industrial sales and marketing executives from across the globe for a new report, “High-Voltage Digital Sales.” These executives operate across four industry segments—industrial and electrical equipment, heavy equipment, automotive suppliers and consumer durables.

We found that while almost all (96%) of industrial companies want to transform their digital sales capabilities, only 7% have plans to act. What’s more, almost half (48%) had the least mature digital sales capability. This means that, despite their ambition, most organizations haven’t made full use of technology that includes customized recommendations; predictive, data-driven customer insights; and automated sales processes.

To illustrate the ways in which digital sales experience can both boost and future-proof your business, below are three key digital capabilities for building seamless digital customer journeys.

1. Predictive, data-driven customer insights

Customer data systems and analytics enable companies to request a 360-degree analysis of a prospective customer. These tools use firmographic data to identify the right sort of businesses to reach out to. They allow the sales division to filter by industry, company size, revenue and location (among other categories). These tools also help businesses understand customer needs and create tailored offerings based on marketing, sales and service transaction data. For instance, a company could send a targeted marketing email showcasing the most relevant services and products to a specific client.  

Such tools allow sales representatives to assign, document and track leads from prospect to sale with a clear view of the pipeline. Management can control and monitor the business with common metrics and make decisions on the different actions needed in order to grow.

2. Proactive, customized recommendations

Recommendation engines are a type of data-filtering tool using machine learning algorithms to recommend the most relevant items to a particular user or customer. They operate on the principle of finding patterns in consumer-behavior data, which can be collected implicitly or explicitly. By leveraging this data based on the customer’s buying history, a business can create a customized webshop highlighting the most relevant products and services for a prospective customer.

3. Automated, standardized sales processes

Chatbots or robotic process automation (RPA) tools provide immediate, automated responses to engage with the consumer from the get-go. This software notifies salespeople when a prospective client is currently visiting the webpage and allows users to fully see their interactions with the chatbot. Once the chatbot is no longer able to answer a prospective client’s questions, the salesperson receives a notification. Sales and aftersales teams can then begin a video call with a client to discuss the various products and services on offer. 

The first step on the digitalization journey begins with assessing the maturity of your company’s digital capabilities and putting a plan into action to improve.

As global industrial lead for Accenture, Thomas Rinn drives the digital transformation of industrial companies. He guides global teams of industrial, digital, engineering and innovation experts as they design and execute strategies to assist industrial clients to harness digital opportunity and reinvent their businesses for future growth.

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