By Dustin Deno, SVP of Global Sales at Showpad
It’s been a turbulent couple of years for all businesses as we continue to get to grips with the digital-forward ways in which we need to work. Sales professionals in particular have had to pivot to a totally different approach to engaging prospects, leveraging digital tools in ways that the industry hadn’t fully tapped into before the pandemic forced their adoption.
Now that we’ve seen the benefits of these digital tools, rather than seeing them as a lesser alternative to face-to-face methods, we need to study their implementation and ensure that it is fully effective. Employees may be on board with digitalisation, but reports of a widespread digital skills shortage demonstrate that staff may not have the capacity to fulfill their potential in the digital workplace. 2022 must be the year that we resolve the digital skills crisis and invest in our people.
Bridging the gap between the digital and physical worlds
What once seemed like a temporary adoption of digital technologies to facilitate compliance with working from home mandates has become a permanent reality for the vast majority of organisations. 83% of staff now prefer a hybrid working model, which represents a huge change from the traditional, full-time office based approach championed by most businesses before the pandemic. This is not just a transformation in our physical workplace environment but a transformation that necessitates a complete overhaul in how we carry out business.
A large majority of organisations haven’t digitised their methods in a way that is fully effective for a hybrid environment, either in terms of the digital tools themselves or training for employees in their usage. Some businesses maintain digital tools which simply attempt to imitate the physical workplace, rather than implementing tools that were designed with the digital workplace in mind. Others may have introduced digital-first tools but failed to train their employees on using these tools effectively. As we enter 2022, organisations must prioritise building a digitally designed workplace and train their employees on how to reap the full benefits of the digital tools they have access to.
Going beyond the gesture and investing in truly meaningful interactions with prospects
Internal processes are not the only part of organisations that must increase their digitisation – businesses must equally improve the usage of digital technologies in their external outreach to prospects. 45% of organisations have found it more difficult to close deals since the start of the pandemic, which is a direct result of this migration of physical processes to a digital world. In 2022 businesses and their staff will have to rapidly improve their interactions with potential clients, or face being swiftly overtaken in this area by competitors.
Clients have become accustomed to the rapid, direct sales model implemented in the B2C world, and have begun to expect this in the B2B world too. Using alternative methods, such as sending video to prospects and adopting non-linear communication processes, can help ease this transition to more meaningful digital reactions. And, of course, organisations must update their internal training for employees accordingly.
Capitalising on data and analytics
Step three of business success in 2022 will be the use of data and analytics. As we transition to permanent digital business, we also transition to accessing more data than ever before. Business leaders should absolutely tap into these numbers, analysing and utilising them effectively to adapt their strategies for attracting prospects. Organisations will become much more efficient when running a data-forward approach, as they can much more easily understand what works well and what doesn’t.
At the same time, it is important that businesses train their staff on how to interpret data. Data should no longer merely be the reserve of tech teams; its usage should proliferate at every level of organisations. True organisational data literacy empowers all levels of workers to ask the right questions of data and build knowledge in line with what that data tells them. When employees are armed with this kind of understanding, along with the appropriate usage of digital technologies and new methods of communication, they can enter the new year fully equipped for business success.