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ON DIGITAL-First Fridays: Sold? But I Never Started the Sales Cycle!

Consumers expect highly personalized products and services, delivered in real time. Instant gratification means no more waiting in long lines, no more trudging through shopping malls, no more cash purchases. Even tangible goods are fading into services delivered in the Cloud.

In the Subscription Economy, the customer is in control, sitting in the driver seat: creating ecosystems around products and services, driving distribution across networks (not chains), co-creating and crowdsourcing, and forcing product development and service availability to be “outside the box”.

Forget the funnel. The sales funnel is being replaced by an orbital model, based on multiple interactions that create a lifetime of value. It’s no longer about quantity—or the more leads you feed into the funnel, the more deals you’ll close. It’s a more complex process based on multiple interactions taking place across multiple touchpoints and channels. The focus is on nurturing long-term relationships with loyal customers and community members rather than funneling leads through the buying cycle.

In the digital world, purchasers are either 100% sold self-service or 90% sold by the time they contact a sales rep. Big Box retailers are attracting aisle browsers who look at goods in the store and immediately surf the web for a better price. Consumers of digital do not want a sales call, they want a compelling digital experience to take them from need to sold.

No matter where customers are in their purchasing journey, it’s your job to support them by giving them what they need in a consistently branded experience. If customers leave the journey partway through, they have to be able to pick up where they left off when they return—it’s all part of a seamless experience.

While the customer is in the driver seat, you are a passenger on the journey. But you can control the interactions that your customers experience. You can find out what platforms they’re using and reach out to them there. If they’re on Twitter, start tweeting. If they’re on Facebook, build a community. Communities of buyers are the people you can cross-sell and upsell to. To do this effectively, your programs must be adaptive and deft, sales and marketing tactics have to be constantly measured and refined. And your messaging has to speak to your customers.

In a pull-model of communications, when customers ask for information, make sure you have it ready. Or anticipate their needs and send them recommendations preemptively. With digital consumers, you have a captive online audience that you can connect with directly.

Digitalization is the most direct route to market. It has wiped out the traditional sales cycle and is redefining innovation.

In my next post, I’ll look at how technology is accelerating the pace of innovation and how digitalization is allowing enterprises to experiment at massive scale—instantly.

For more thoughts ON DIGITAL, download the book.

Mark Barrenechea

Mark J. Barrenechea is OpenText's Vice Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Technology Officer. A prominent thought leader, he has extensive experience in information technology and his vision is to enable the digital world to help transform organizations.

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