Why Sales and Marketing Can’t Go Back to Business As Usual
The dramatic events of the first three months of 2020 have taught CEOs, CROs and CMOs that a digital strategy for Sales and Marketing is no longer a “nice-to-have” for global corporations. When the unthinkable happens, and the traditional modes of personal communication literally shut down, the very survival of the company could be at stake.
Why is this? Why is it so critical to re-think everything about the way that companies communicate their offerings? The answer is that, even before trade shows were canceled, sales meetings postponed, and travel almost eliminated, global business faced a latent crisis in communications. The number one reason that global B2B companies lose deals that they should win, according to Sirius Decisions, is the failure to effectively communicate competitive value differentiation. Imagine how much worse this problem is when people can’t meet in person.
Sales and marketing teams in most large companies have moved slowly in the world of digital. Sales people have been conditioned to use slide presentations in meetings as the default communications tool, whether there are 10 people in the room, or a one-on-one engagement. Their major advancement in technology has been the use of sales enablement tools, which help identify the most recent slide deck or video or brochure to use. Marketers have, similarly, built websites and electronic versions of their brochures, and made extensive use of videos to communicate product and solutions messaging. The common denominator in all of these tools is that the customer is passively watching not engaging.
The Future of B2B Customer Engagement
Today, when we connect with customers using teleconferencing tools and then show the same static slide presentation or video, it is even less effective than when prospects are sitting in a conference room listening to the sales pitch. On the computer, when working from the home office, the prospect has so many more distractions right there on the screen (not to mention the children and pets in the background).
Simply digitizing the traditional processes does not work. We need to use technologies to do things in a different and better way, and that is what digital transformation is all about.
Bain and Deloitte have identified the most important element of sales and marketing in the digital world as customer engagement. Cognitive science has shown that in order to deliver an engaging experience, sales people and marketers must connect in three ways: with relevant information (intellectual connection), multisensory interaction (touch, voice, sight, etc.) and finally, an emotional connection (it must be fun, surprising, etc.)
Digital-First, The New Normal
In this new (and lasting) digital-first world, tools that just connect us are not sufficient. The paradigm must be switched from prospects passively watching / listening, to prospects actively interacting. Interactive experiences in which customers are put in the driver’s seat help to (a) focus the customer’s attention, (b) provide true engagement, and (c) result in much higher memory retention (studies show increased relevant recall by as much as 75%).
Kaon Interactive has helped visionary companies (such as Thermo Fisher Scientific, Amazon Web Services, and IBM) put in place their digital transformation platforms (global, redundant, cloud based, device and venue agnostic), making their transition to all virtual events / engagements seamless for their sales and marketing teams. When trade shows were canceled due to the global pandemic, these companies simply took their current interactive experiences online to deliver engaging and interactive customer conferences. These same companies trained their sales teams to use these interactive applications in one-on-one virtual meetings, and were able to more effectively demonstrate their differentiated competitive value.
Now is not the time to retreat back to selling the “old” way. Now is the time for bold leadership in sales and marketing. Digital transformation to create true customer engagement is an immediate imperative.