Digital transformation of Sales & Marketing

Identifying and utilizing potentials.

When it comes to the digital transformation of sales and marketing activities, most companies encounter similar challenges. The relevant warning signals will advise of the need to improve the digital maturity level of the company’s digital sales and marketing processes. Companies must react, identify possible solutions and implement the same. In this context, success is made possible with the establishment of a Center of Excellence.

They are becoming an increasingly common sight in cities: pedestrians staring at their Smartphone instead of paying attention to traffic signs and traffic lights. Similarly, companies should be equally mindful of these warning signs on their way to the digital transformation. But they often find it difficult to identify and correctly assess these signs.

A case in point is the digital transformation of sales and marketing processes. Here, companies want to use digitization to reduce costs, grow sales or increase growth, for example. The cost-effective scalability of digital sales and marketing measures represents a big advantage compared to traditional marketing. And yet just a handful of companies have highly-sophisticated digital sales and marketing processes in place. Success will depend greatly on the company's culture, because the digital transformation is much more difficult to achieve with conventional structures and thinking patterns.

Need for an integrated strategy

An integrated strategy is not required only for the Sales and Marketing divisions, but the effects of the lack of such a strategy should not be under-estimated. Most of the company is directly or indirectly involved in digital sales and marketing measures to ensure a perfect customer experience in all channels.

This requires a company-wide integrated digital Sales & Marketing strategy for defining common objectives and integrating all departments that are affected. A systematic and integrated translation and implementation of the strategy can only be achieved with a clearly-defined plan, newly-created processes and defined responsibilities.

Warning signals for a low level of maturity

But many companies have either no or an unclear digital sales and marketing strategy, so that initiatives are often started without a system and a lack of focus. The following warning signals can indicate that the company’s digital sales and marketing activities need to be improved:

  • Measures are only tentatively implemented (or not at all) due to internal discussions and uncertainties or a lack of support, for example indirect marketing concepts.
  • The performance of sales and marketing measures is either difficult or impossible to measure, or it can only be measured with a considerable delay after they have gone live.
  • Campaigns, for example, are associated with a lot of manual work.
  • Reasons for unexpected KPI fluctuations - e.g. sales, traffic or conversion rate - cannot be analyzed automatically but rather are calculated manually based on the conjectures of individual employees.
  • Responsibility for the various digital communication channels in the company is spread across many areas, which in turn draw on different databases.

Important success factors

To solve these challenges, companies should note the following success factors with regard to Customer Interaction, Customer Insights and Strategy & Organizational Setup.

Customer interaction

Customer interaction

  • It is important that companies increasingly assume the customer's viewpoint, e.g. by using user stories. Companies must define the relevant customer types in advance to ensure a targeted approach.
  • Key processes and departments must be aligned to the “Customer Journey” instead of functional “silos”, with the aim of understanding where the customer is in the purchase process, and to provide the right information at the right time using the digital coverage.
  • The service and product portfolio should be aligned not to the business but to the customer, and it should approach the same with personalized offers.
  • The customer of the future is used to using new technologies, increasingly looks for personalized content and is active in digital channels.
  • Measures must be comprehensively tested across the different channels before going live, and they must meet previously defined acceptance criteria.
Customer insights

Customer insights

  • First the short program, then the freestyle event: Databases that are of relevance to sales and marketing activities (those containing customer data) must be introduced in order to generate insights from the data that is collected. The extent to which the tools and systems meet the requirements must also be reviewed. Measures in this regard include real-time performance and KPI tracking along the Sales Funnel.
  • Decisions about additional sales and marketing measures should be supported with the appropriate data and analyses, whereby each decision can be confirmed and traced using data. Digital tools support sales and marketing with analyses and enable forecasts of future customer requirements, making it possible to generate customers and business insights.
  • Dashboards and information must be visible to, and usable by, all authorized users at all times. For example, this would allow users to create regional and local KPI reports on their own.
  • Companies should ensure that only those measures whose performance can be measured actually go live.
  • Automated quality assurance is also important, e.g. to identify reasons for the deviations of relevant KPIs.
  • Measures must be continuously enhanced, whereby the first try does not have to be perfect. This process is all about “testing” and the permanent promotion of A/B testing to identify optimization potentials.
Strategy and organizational setup

Strategy and organizational setup

  • Targets that are relevant to sales and marketing should be defined and harmonized across departments and countries.
  • Targets and bonus systems in the company should be aligned to customer-oriented KPIs, e.g. the net promoter score or app ratings.
  • The different company divisions should work together, so that customer information does not get lost. Clear responsibilities must be defined for this purpose.
  • The company's structures and work processes must support digital sales and marketing measures, so that all of the potential areas can be fully exploited.
  • Companies must have the flexibility to respond to changing customer requirements. This should be reflected in the practiced company culture and structure.
  • Managers should indicate a common direction and facilitate rapid responses to new customer requirements.
  • It is better to have fewer activities that run in parallel, and instead ensure that they are coordinated in the company (vertically and horizontally) and implemented with the same motivation. This is made possible with the OKR method.
  • Specialists and experts who are proficient in digital sales, digital marketing and eCommerce and the relevant tools are hard to find. Therefore the company must offer attractive packages and ensure employee loyalty, whereby each field must be staffed with at least one expert.

Establish a Center of Excellence

These success factors form the foundation for the effective implementation of a company's sales and marketing strategy, and for generating the desired results. The graph below provides an overview of the relevant components for the successful development, implementation and realization of this project.

The establishment of a Digital Sales & Marketing Center of Excellence ensures the success of these measures. It provides the general framework for digital sales and marketing in the company, and it guarantees the development and bundling of the relevant expertise in the areas Strategy & Organization, Customer Interaction and Customer Insights. The Center of Excellence monitors and coordinates the measures for digitizing the company's sales and marketing activities across the entire organization. In addition, it also advises the various departments with regard to implementation and execution. In this way, it provides the correct direction for sales and marketing and ensures that the processes continue to be enhanced.