03.25.22 - Marketing
Embracing Hybrid Sales with New Digital Tools
“Embrace hybrid.” These words are being echoed in boardrooms and HR offices in nearly every organization. Today, however, we’re not talking about workplaces or work styles, we’re talking about the “hybrid” sales process.
One of the biggest trends facing sales and marketing leaders today is embracing the relationship between our physical space and digital world. Or, more specifically, how to navigate seamlessly between the two.
When the pandemic forced companies to work from home and in-person events came to a halt, many brands found themselves looking more closely at online tools to close the gap. The result has been the creation of a new digital sales toolbox. One that blends on and offline experiences and where technology supports relationship building, cost efficiencies and increased personalization.
Here are three new hybrid digital tools every sales manager and CMO should be considering as we work our way out of the pandemic:
Design a Digital Experience Hub
In 2020, sales leaders and CMOs were forced to explore new ways to bring their products to distributors and buyers. For Purina, this meant digitizing their innovation center. Unable to bring physical products to retailers and trade shows, the pet food manufacturer began looking at online alternatives. As a result, their online brand center became the hub for retailers and customers to explore the latest in retail innovation remotely and in real-time.
Digital experience hubs are continuing to grow in popularity today as business travel remains sluggish and people have grown accustomed to making sales decisions digitally. In addition to offering a sleek and efficient alternative for remote sales, digital experience hubs automate portions of the sales process and can be customized to specific events or individuals.
Interestingly, digital hubs play a valuable role in the face-to-face sales process as well. They offer customers a chance to review products and services before a meeting and can be a compelling follow up tool. In most cases, experience hubs, accessible through tablets and touchscreens, can also reduce expenses related to shipping inventory to trade shows or sales events.
Adopt 3D Modeling
Similar to digital experience hubs, 3D modeling has also grown in its relevance to the sales process as a result of the pandemic. Interactive 3D modeling allows brands to create an immersive experience for customers, suppliers and retailers.
Further, with new advancements in technology, these models have become easier to share, download and navigate remotely. Whether it’s a home tour, a facility model or a product demonstration, it’s becoming paramount for companies to support their sales experience using virtual tools.
Panduit, a leader in infrastructure products and services for data networks and electrical power applications, for example, recently opted to create a fictitious, interactive 3D city to demonstrate their product use and connectivity standards.
Another reason B2B companies are leveraging 3D modeling as a part of their sales toolbox is the ability to extend geographical barriers. A well-designed, interactive 3D experience can empower customers to walk through a building while sitting 3,000 miles away.
Manufacturers can demonstrate large pieces of equipment or complex technologies that may be difficult or costly to ship to trade shows. Sales managers can even guide customers through set up or use instructions while working from home.
Create Digital Brand Integrations
Digital brand integrations are becoming another important resource for sales leaders. While the idea of digital brand integrations are not new, the way companies are using digital tools to create real-time engagement and manage data has advanced significantly.
Brands are experimenting with point of purchase tools to collect information, track leads and offer demonstrations. More so, as the pandemic transformed the way we shop, engage in public spaces and even wait in line, technology and how its being embraced has changed alongside of it. For B2B companies, these integrations may be centered around automation. This includes automatic reorder options, real-time inventory or product alerts and optimizing lead generation.
Digital brand integrations can also play an important role in the training process. With turnover rates at an all-time high, onboarding and ramping up the training processes digitally can be a differentiator. Creating automations can save companies valuable time and resources.
GAF, one of the leading roofing manufacturers in North America, for example, recently adopted a new virtual training platform, which can be accessed remotely or used for in-person demonstrations. The result is a standardized program for remote, hybrid and in-office sales members.
Incorporating technology into the sales process can feel daunting. However, there are a few easy ways to navigate these changes. First, find a partner with proven experience. Review case studies, ask about results, check references and inquire about demonstrations.
Next, look at the big picture. The key to weaving together in-person and digital sales is to focus on a clear goal. First, think about all of the different ways this technology touches the business. Ask yourself who should be part of the team, what type of data should be collected and how the information could benefit other departments. This wide view will help maximize your investment.
Finally, focus on the experience. The key to successfully launching new technology is ensuring it creates a positive user experience. Start by asking what is the desired outcome for your customer, then leverage your technology to support that vision.
There’s no question the pandemic has transformed where we work, how we work and the work we do. By focusing on how in-person and digital tools can work more seamlessly together, many companies today are leveraging hybrid sales models to grow their businesses more efficiently and effectively.
This article by Makeway co-founder Joshua Lowery originally appeared in Sales & Marketing Management.