If a business doesn’t believe it’s possible to transpose explanations about their products or services to video/live/podcasts/written - and that the discovery process, on behalf of the prospect, can be carried out digitally on-demand, they will fail at digital transformation.
From my research and observations, the consensus is that Digital Transformation projects appear to be ‘jobs-for-the-boys’. The touted historical failure rates appear to be very high, like 75% of all projects fail! But that can be seen as a bit of an arbitrary figure as there would need to be a scale and clarification of what failure looks like.
There is ‘push-back’ about the failure rates though, Learning Accelerators question where the figure came from in the first place. Nice work on their behalf as it seems it’s a bit of a myth. My point though is identifying what the objective of the transformation project is, in the first place. And being quite mercenary, I want the believe the board of director’s, placed making the company more profitable as the primary goal. But if the techies are not quite so focused, this may pose a problem.
There are thousands of publications about digital transformation, and I am not about to weigh in on anything the great and the good have to say about strategies and arguments to go down this route, although I would recommend a couple of the books I’ve read:
Leading Digital: Westerman/Bonnet/McAfee – amazon link
Digital @ Scale: Meffert/Swaminathan – amazon link
However, there is an interesting avenue I want to consider, and that is, what are the implications and effects of digitising sales and marketing within a digital transformation (DT) project?
There are many varied objectives when it comes to DT projects, but let’s not get too bogged down in all the permutations and look at the most basic, i.e., to improve operations to increase profitability. This boils down to two simple suggestions:
It’s all about their access to you and your data (Customer Experience - CX) and the ease of using it (User Experience - UX) and don’t forget, staff are customers too. Two very good resources would be to buy the books:
X – The Experience When Business Meets Design by Brian Solis - amazon link
Digital Sense by Travis Wright and Chris Snook - amazon link
Implementing Business Process Management (BPM) Software to streamline processes is a common approach and there are companies like Pega Systems, Appian, Bizagi, Tibco, OpenText, K2 and so on. These SaaS platforms enable businesses to apply low code solutions to complex business processes and enable a simple integration between legacy software platforms and new SaaS as well as automating any digital operation you could think of to increase efficiency – to increase profitability.
No business is going to invest in BPM because they felt like it was a nice idea! It’s all about the money. And I am expressly talking about Business-to-Business, not Education, not Public Sector etc., but organisations who need to generate a profit.
If the objective is to increase profitability, then let’s look at the money and where it comes from, i.e., sales. There’s no point ‘putting lipstick on a pig’, if your sales process is not up to scratch, all else will fail.
I want you to think of Digital Transformation as converging essential activities to act as a catalyst to create more revenue we must therefore start at the beginning of their journey, i.e., first contact with the customer and for the time being, we’ll use the word ‘prospect’ to describe them.
Your job as a business leader is to position your business where your potential prospects hang-out, be it online, magazines, events and so on and execute a process called attraction! Once a prospect knows they need a certain product or service (Zero Moment of Truth – ZMOT?), your ‘attraction’ efforts make you a contender for their attention.
I know this is marketing 101 but let’s face it, B2B marketers keep failing and as a result they account for the highest staff turnover in a business, with CMO’s moving on, every 18 months or so. This is because they promise the earth and do not deliver, or, they do as they’re told and never live up to the board’s expectations. Both HR and recruitment companies know this to be a fact and know it’s a revolving door process!
Back to attraction. The B2C market create adverts to sell products. This works because we, the consumers, watch the ads and decide if we like the trainers/clothes/car/holiday and make the purchase personally.
The B2B market is entrenched in the 1:1 sales model to sell products; one person to make cold telephone calls (BDR’s), one person to follow up (Pre-sales), one person to sell face-to-face and explain about the product and company etc (Sales). No one in business thinks to themselves “this SaaS product will look good for my business”. Every purchase is made to improve one or multiple factors to become more profitable.
However, typical B2B marketing does not work because business leaders have been misled by marketing personnel who have bought into the marketing automation software ‘kool-aid’ (lies) from Big Tech:
Too often, enterprises buy tech from the mega vendors because they are pre-conditioned to do so. Again, is this a mindset issue?
Emma Sinclair MBE
We all buy in an almost chaotic way depending on a variety of influences and circumstances.
Big Tech says demand generation strategies will increase profitability – no it doesn’t
Marketing Automation SaaS does not deliver. Businesses have never increased their profitability per person per annum for decades and sales are still processed 1:1.
The reason why marketing automation fails for B2B is because content on your website is normally crawled by search engine robots, but marketing automation hides the content and places it behind an email form to capture the prospects details. Therefore, it will never appear on any page of Google rendering SEO useless.
This forces businesses to pay for Pay-Per-Click advertising that can only be marginally successful if : -
Additional factors are marketing departments who have been given KPI’s to provide marketing qualified leads (MQL’s), yet leads, can only come from obtaining an email in the first place. Also, if a prospect has been forced to enter a transaction simply to get hold of some content and it’s poor, they will immediately unsubscribe feeling they’ve been cheated.
The process becomes subjective if marketing determines if a MQL becomes a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) and passed onto sales, if indeed they are sales qualified in the first place! In many cases this fails as the prospect is often not ready to speak to anyone and is still one of the 83% of buyers who research digitally before speaking to or engaging with a salesperson.
And because of such consistent ambiguity with lead generation, B2B always revert to the 1:1 process because no one has the patience to monitor and adapt the content or processes to make it work.
Before embarking on a digital transformation project, you must commit to providing a seamless experience to your prospects who eventually will become customers.
Obviously, you have your product(s) in place, the next stage is to create an abundance of content to serve the increasingly complex appetite of your audience, irrespective of the enquiry level, and to achieve this, a business has no choice but to provide articles, video, podcasts, live shows, and downloads etc.
The reason you need such a diverse selection is that no one is psychic and can foretell what type of content a prospect likes and when or where they might engage with it.
Once you have your content in place, you have to let prospects know what you’ve got and how your content can help them. And to do that, the only answer is to create multiple adverts to sell the content that will ultimately sell your products.
This can be achieved by preparing short videos, GIF’s, Memes, and graphic adverts in advance and posting them multiple times a day and every day of the month and repeating the sequence every month for as long as you deem fit:
If businesses did this in advance of starting up and committing to premises and staff there would be far fewer failures as the business would know in advance how to attract customers. Once you’ve found the right formula, you scale and grow.
As you’re already in business and perhaps don’t have the luxury of taking your time, the solution is to build your new content strategy in parallel to your existing operation. Over time, digital exposure and engagement will increase and the more costly 1:1 sales approach can decrease as you become more effective and profitable.
All departments in your business need to grasp how transforming your business processes to a digital model is the only sustainable long-term option for the future to reach more prospects and customers than you have in the past.
Now you know why and how to achieve true digital transformation. Start with looking at sales and working backwards, then understand attraction and with a bit of trial and error, you’ll get there.