Digital Selling or Is It Social Selling?
At times, there can be confusion over the terms “Digital Selling” and “Social Selling”. The sales training and enablement industry interchange these terms without proper explanation. Digital Selling is the act of using digital assets to engage buyers, while Social Selling is the specific act of using the social networks to engage buyers.
So, what’s the difference? Well firstly, think of all the digital assets you could use to target buyers, you have email templates, video, articles, images, infographics and online presentations. Digital Selling is the strategy of having marketing and sales work together to share and distribute these assets in a programmatic way. So Digital Selling is a big picture overview of how a business can use assets, data, sales people plus other people who touch customers to promote their brand using the digital channels.
Social Selling is a tactic, an additive approach to the sales process which involves 1:1 relationship building by a sales person targeting a specific prospect via the social networks.
Digital Selling is the sales side of any Digital Marketing activity to extend the reach and performance of all online activity. An example, a company launches a new product, they build a landing page and marketing goes to work promoting it. In its simplest form, this is Digital Marketing. Now marketing working with the sales and customer support channels plan how they will promote the landing page via their business/personal social accounts and connections in a unified way. This is Digital Selling.
Digital Selling has overtaken the term “Smarketing” (meaning sales and marketing working together) and will become a key term for nearly every business in the years ahead. Social Selling will continue to evolve as a key skill for individual salespeople to nurture relationships with a deliberate focus on the buyer’s journey (personalized messages and content).
Companies are already creating Digital Selling departments, which usually compose a team including content marketing, salespeople, customer support people and marketing personnel, who act as the digital champions within the larger sales and organization. They take the mass marketing material and then focus on using all other customer touch points to promote this material, customizing it for each team and channel. Together, this department will focus on the company’s prospects and customers digital footprints, extending brand/product reach while measuring the interactions of the material which in turn can act as a trigger event for buyer engagement via social selling.
When we talk about social business or digital sales transformation, the reality is that many leaders in the sales industry have been slow to implement change even though the proof of digital success via inbound marketing is there for everyone to see. Now is the time for sales leadership to move up a gear and utilize the power of Digital Selling.
Whether it is digital selling or social selling, whatever way you see it, selling is being transformed. Keeping the pace of the digitally influenced buyer's journey and well-educated customers requires that business embraces a selling focus that relies less on the hard sell and increasingly on adding value to the buying experience and relationship via the digital channels. This means that all sales and customer touch activity must become seamless, breaking down traditional department silos like Marketing, Sales, and Service to engage customers wherever or however they want to interact with an organization.
To summarize, Digital Selling is at the company, department and strategic level, Social Selling is at the skill and individual level. They are both interconnected and rely on the main business transitions that drive a digital sales transformation process in a business: social platforms, organization structure, and the culture. While the buyer preference for using the digital channels will drive the transformation inside a company, the overarching focus for any sales leadership team must be on the organizational and cultural transitions, ensuring that the training and skills are embedded into the DNA of the business so that customer preferences on how they want to do interact with us becomes and remains the focus of all selling activity.
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