What is Digital Sales Coverage?

If you haven’t yet heard the newest buzzword in Sales and Marketing, be prepared to hear it a lot in 2014.

So, what is Digital Sales Coverage? Before we define it, I find it helpful to think through the changes in commercial models that led us to Digital Sales Coverage.

(2009 – 2010)The B2B world discovers that customers are spending significant time online.
It was right around the time that the bottom fell out of the market that we discovered that B2B buyers were making a significant portion of their purchase decisions. There are a range of stats from various institutions that been referenced over and over, but I am personally biased towards CEB’s stat that states customers are completing 57% of their purchase decision before contacting a sales rep. (To be upfront, I worked at CEB and on The Challenger Selling Model during the same period.) It was a rude awakening. The all-powerful sales person was only involved in the final stages of the deal and was not controlling the entire process.

(2011-2012)We rushed to improve the face time that we did have access to.
Knowing that the customer was making 57% of their decision online, we – as an entire industry – ran to what we knew best and quickly began looking for ways to improve the 43% of the sales process that our sellers did control. The communal logic was simple – if our direct interaction with customers was in fact diminishing in quantity, than the best thing to do was to improve the quality of those interactions.

(The past 18 months)Marketing and Sales truly connected for the first time.
The good news was that the need to improve customer interactions created an opportunity for sales and marketing to hold hands together over a true business issue. Marketers love, and are really good at, creating great content. Sales needed fresh, targeted content – in addition to better selling approaches – in order to shift the conversation from solutions orientated to insight orientated. Sales volumes increased as a result of this new found partnership and everyone looked like heroes.

End of story, right? Not even close.

(Today)The realization that we ignored the metric that scared us in the first place.

The efforts to improve customer interactions by improving sales conversations was a great start, but what was missed was the opportunity to improve the entire purchase experience. In fact, it missed more than half of the opportunity to create competitive advantage while a customer interacted with a company’s offerings.

What we have come to see – and what we at MarketBridge are giddy over – is that organizations are now thinking through how to influence customer buying decision during the 57% of the purchase time that customers are spending online or on-device. It represents a significant shift from Lead Generation through Digital Marketing to Early Stages Opportunity Management, if you will allow me to use the appropriate jargon.

What organizations are realizing is that digital coverage is not about providing content or information for the sake of providing information. It is about proactively guiding the customer’s buying process during the time that they first interact with your offerings. The need is simple – organizations need to analytically predict where the unique buyer persona is in the buying process, and serve them up the tailored content along that journey the same way a seller would when accelerating the sales process.

This requires the skills of marketers and operations experts, with the mindset of a seller (clearly an easy role to hire for…). As a result, and for the first time ever, we are starting to hear documented reports of Sales building digital capabilities for the Sales team rather than trying to retrofit the Marketing’s tools of yesterday.

Digital Sales Coverage Defined

Digital Sales Coverage is a connected marketing and sales technique that enables commercial organizations to identify potential sales opportunities that are not yet worth the investment of direct contact from a sales team, yet that would yield revenue potential if nurtured correctly through digital marketing practices that guide customer through the buyer’s journey.

It’s an important topic and one that I believe will yield significant advantage to early adopters in 2014. To learn more about Digital Sales Coverage, listen to our webinar on How to Improve Sales Productivity in 5 Steps: Introducing Digital Sales Coverage, click here