More and more digital marketers are being held directly accountable for sales–online sales, that is. And by accountability I do not mean the usual, “Oh, look, I influenced this sale” type of measurement. Au contraire, I mean, “Oh, look, I did this sale” type of measurement. And this trend has been slowly gaining momentum, not only in industries that have a strong B2C retail aspect, but also those that sell to their consumers via a channel.
This is a massive cultural and mindset shift for digital marketers in those organizations–the reverberations of which are being felt in other parts of their businesses, such as sales, planning and forecasting, and finance and supply chain, to name a few.
So to become better at online sales, what can we learn from the enterprise sales discipline?
Ask any enterprise sales professional about critical success factors, and you will find the ability to make solutions relevant to the requirements of target customers features very high on the list. In fact, most enterprise sales organizations are constructed to do exactly that. When senior executives design and/or refine their enterprise sales organizations, they aim to increase capability and bandwidth to produce more relevant and personalized solutions for their customers. Simply put, personalization is on the executive agenda and is treated as a competitive differentiator for market outreach.
For digital marketers, however, the market outreach requirement is on a very different scale. They therefore need to use technologies, such as advanced content management systems, A/B and multivariate testing tools, artificially intelligent targeting engines, etc. In doing so, some digital marketers get so engrossed in the technology itself that they become at risk of treating personalization as a fancy add-on, as opposed to being core to their online marketing strategies. This approach leads to short-term uplifts, which are neither sustainable nor scalable.
The answer is to treat personalization as a key differentiator and build an organizational capability around it. Personalization needs to be at the center of your online strategy, across channels, across campaigns, and across your “always-on” marketing activities. And if you have a global-local organization structure, you need to create a centralized center of expertise that works with local champions to create and execute the personalization strategies at the local level, while ensuring that global best practices are leveraged.
This mindset tends to be most common among enterprise sales organizations–and it’s something that digital marketing organizations need to get better at.
In doing so, you will invariably put the customer at the center of your strategy. This is a fantastic tactic for business leaders to align their digital marketing organization around the needs of the end customer/consumer.