How it took a global pandemic to teach us that digital transformation is here to stay

Digital transformation

Digital Transformation - Jumping in at the deep end

If there are one or two things that the Covid 19 pandemic has taught us in the world of business, it is how resilient and adaptable we can be and how fast technology adoption can move when needed. Looking back to January 2020, who imagined that traditional face to face sales teams would be managing customer calls in a virtual setting or  conferences could still go ahead online and achieve a similar feeling of impact and motivation experienced in a hotel venue?  Prior to 2020, how often had you discussed the importance of digital within your business and tentatively tried pilots, reviewed the results with more questions than answers and looked for that green light of go/no go on how to make digital work within your business?

When backed into a corner in 2020, suddenly the light bulbs shone bright and businesses realised they can make digital work.  The impact of the global pandemic on sales & marketing reminds me of the simple but powerful words of Barack Obama...  "yes we can".  There is something so powerful about having no other option than jumping in at the deep end and learning while you stay afloat. When you have no option other than to sink or swim, the learning is fast!

As the Covid 19 vaccination programme moves apace and we have a roadmap out of lockdown, the critical question now, is how do we keep that can do, agile mind-set going with digital transformation and not return to our old ways of tentative caution. 

Digital disruption

The increasing pace of digital disruption

In 2018, an Accenture study found that 63% of companies were experiencing digital disruption and 44% were highly susceptible to future disruption. Fast forward to 2020/2021 and it is clear to see the Accenture study results ringing true across industries. 

So putting the pandemic aside, why is digital disruption moving so fast?

The four key drivers behind digital disruption

  1. Lowering costs - Reduction in the reliance on physical assets and lowering operation costs
  2. Using data to test and adapt - Uncovering actionable insights and fast iteration to make improvements
  3. Meeting customer needs - Personalised experiences, increased convenience and greater value
  4. Market and value chain transformation - Providing value beyond the product

Putting customers first in our digital world

Times have changed and customers are seeking information, solutions and value beyond the product online in the minimum number of clicks.  In our increasingly hectic world where the fast demand for information is expected, time is of the essence and if you can not provide answers in one or maybe two clicks, your customer will quickly and easily turn to a competitor who can meet their expectations. Think about a time that you've been searching online for a product, solution or information, how long have you been willing to keep clicking to find the right solution?   

As a sales or marketing leader, putting yourself in the shoes of your customer and mapping their needs is critical to ensuring that you provide fast solutions and value beyond the product.

In the eyes of your customer there are key questions to ask

  • What do I need to get done?
  • What do I need to do differently?
  • What is frustrating me and keeping me awake at night?
  • What is stopping me from doing my job?
  • What can I learn and implement now from your product/solution ?
  • What additional benefits can I get from your offering? 

Using data to put customers first

Advances in technology are providing a wealth of data to access customer insights , inform marketing decisions and activities across the business. 

When you think about data and insights, does your mind go to sales and activity? In our increasingly digital world, there is significantly more data available to segment customers on behaviours, create personalised marketing campaigns and messages, measure and track return on investment and confidently inform business wide focus and decision making. 

Data versus insights 

We have lots of data to hand, ie how many sales, where are sales coming from, what activity has occurred against those sales. 

The challenge we have with the wealth of data available is it can also generate tunnel vision and a proof of what you believe. Have you ever been down that rabbit hole where sales data versus sales team activity gives you a clear conclusion that  "sales team activity isn't high enough which is the  reason for our sales not hitting target so we must now focus on increasing sales calls ". But what about the other parameters of impact on customers? 

  1. What is the quality of the sales team interactions?
  2. How are your key messages landing?
  3. What is the customer experience of online content?
  4. Is the customer's online and offline experience meeting their needs? 

As a sales or marketing leader, data is exciting and great information to feed your curiosity on new steps for change, however the key to finding actionable insights to drive your strategy is to link the data available both offline and online with human interpretation. 

Looking at sales data and sales team activity alone gives one view of your impact, while reviewing digital activity gives another view of your world. Through linking all of your data points and layering the facts and figures with  ground-level insights from your cross-functional teams, that is the point where you can achieve the sweet-spot of uncovering the actionable insights to take your sales and marketing capability building  to the next level to achieve true customer-centricity. 

Over the years when I have talked about identifying actionable insights to drive sales and marketing strategies, the automatic switch has often been "our sales are not hitting target which means we need to run another selling skills course or an intervention to change the mind-set of our sales team".  Sales team capability building can be one answer to enhance performance,  however in 2021, this is only one piece of the capability building pie with increasing reliance from customers on online interactions and information to find their solutions. 

Reviewing your data as a cross-functional sales & marketing team and pin-pointing actionable insights and capability building needs across both your offline and online activity is key to digital transformation and putting customers first.

Building marketing capabilities for digital transformation

Whether you are a small business owner or lead a blue chip organisation, it is clear that digital is here to stay and is now a critical success factor in marketing efforts. 

As digital transformation rapidly evolves, there are new requirements for marketing competencies and capabilities to stay ahead and deliver competitively. Creating dynamic and memorable customer experiences throughout the customer journey is critical to stay competitive.

In January Forbes Agency Council shared their prediction of 15 top marketing trends to keep an eye on in 2021

Here are my top 10 marketing competencies and capabilities in 2021 and beyond 

  1. Customer insight - Who are our customers and what are their needs?
  2. Segmentation and targeting - What are the unique customer groups and who will we target?
  3. Customer experience alignment - What is the customer journey and how will we improve it through our sales and marketing efforts?
  4. Content marketing - How do we communicate our solutions to the customer's problem at every stage of their journey?
  5. Omnichannel marketing - Automation, integration and personalisation
  6. Mobile first - Optimising for mobile 
  7. SEO - Understanding search intent
  8. Value proposition - How do we bring value beyond the product?
  9. Data analytics and measurement - How do we measure success and return on investment?
  10. Agile mindset -  A test, learn and iterate approach to optimise performance

Marie Gardner - Director, Red Thread Strategies 

For further information and an exploratory call on how we can help you to build your digital sales and marketing capabilities

Learn more about how we can help you - What we do

Contact us for a free exploratory call - Tel: 07596306252  E-mail: hello@redthreadstrategies.co.uk


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