Jane, an inside sales director, was handed her new KPIs from executive management. Her sales reps were now expected to increase the conversions achieved each month from 2.46 percent to 3.26 percent. Jane’s surprise then turned into astonishment when she saw the accompanying budget for the next year was reduced by a third. The management was essentially asking her to achieve more with less!
It did not take Jane long to realize that her current system of outbound sales was just not going to meet these new demands. Currently, her team’s outbound customer engagement strategy consisted of cold calls and emails, that had low rates of conversion. Employee retention rates were not great, to put it best, and industry regulations were consistently narrowing in the limitations of her team’s sales activities. And this was only in targeting leads, customer conversions were a whole new ball game!
Managerial and regulation requirements necessitated that prospective customers had to complete a series of activities to convert — be it to provide specific documentation, sign documents, submit them, indicate consent, etc. Analytics data showed that the process abandonment rate was as high as 70 percent. It seemed to Jane that there was no way her sales reps could meet their new goals. Then she discovered digital customer engagement.
Like Jane, many sales managers are looking for ways to increase sales-call conversions. The odds, however, are stacked against them, as customer expectations are advancing and agents are simply not equipped to keep up. Agents and customers have an ever-growing array of digital tools at their disposal. While sales agents are using CRMs, scheduling platforms and internal messaging systems, customers are spending more time on their smartphones using apps and online tools to complete a whole variety of tasks. Yet, despite the significant use of digital on either end of the sales equation, the tool that is being used to actually make the connection between the agent and customer often remains the antiquated phone line. It’s the equivalent of two neighboring megacities depending on just a single bike path to travel between them. However, this trend is disappearing, as digital customer engagement is rapidly changing the way sales agents and customers interact.
The Case for Digital
Automated digital tools are already helping companies to increase sales opportunities via self-service. Messages are sent over social media, via SMS text, BOTs, widgets, pop-up notifications, etc. Once clicked on by a lead, they can browse product offerings in self-service. The ability to immerse sales processes into a digital operation becomes critical for inside sales reps, as it exponentially transforms audio voice calls into fully digital, interactive sessions. As a result, more information can be relayed, and likewise more data can be collected.
Going digital can help make agent-caller interactions more productive. Digital collaboration tools enable sales staff to work with prospects in a multi-modal session, either by sharing screens or conducting live video chats. Sales reps can assist prospects to fill out forms and prospects can digitally sign forms and upload documents while on the phone with them. This advanced level of functionality greatly minimizes hurdles to conversion and enables transactions to be completed on the spot.
When Things Start Going…
Inside sales teams cannot afford to ignore the strong benefits of digital customer engagement:
1) Shorter sales cycles: Once agents can use digital tools during a live call to visualize offerings and sign-up customers, transactions can be closed in one interaction. There is no need for recurring calls or long sales cycles that result from processes that aren’t able to be completed in real time, such as needing to exchange documents via email.
2) Higher sales conversion rates: The ability to provide a visual representation of product offerings, make annotations and co-browse web pages, makes it easier for prospects to understand value, while an expedited sales cycle means fewer prospects abandon the purchase process.
3) Streamlined operations: Digital customer engagement connects all of a company’s digital channels into a fully integrated omnichannel environment. This ensures calls that are made over the digital platform are shorter, more efficient and provide real-time updates into the CRM.
4) Better employee retention: Digital customer engagement automatically diverts simple and repetitive calls to self-service, so that agents have more time to address more complex calls that require human intervention. Furthermore, equipped with digital engagement tools, sales reps are empowered to do more. Their conversion rates are higher and, therefore, their compensation is better. Within the scope of their role, they’re empowered to achieve results for customers.
The Road to Success is Paved with Digital Interactions
From the way we pay our bills, seek entertainment to educate and dress, we are increasingly turning to digital. Yet despite the rapid adoption of digital, this is a trend we are merely at the beginning of, with all signs indicating that the digital world is here to stay, and on a trajectory to eclipse everything we do. For companies to stay relevant, they must find a way to synthesize their communication strategies with their existing digital infrastructure and their customer’s extensive digital capabilities. Companies need to broaden that “road” of communication so that they can come equipped with the full value their digital assets provide them and meet customers on the digital interfaces where they expect to be found.
And what about Jane? She found that digital engagement tools make processes run far more smoothly. Visual representation, data sharing and real-time signature capabilities allow her sales reps to close more deals every day. Her managers are happy — and so is she.