As companies embrace a reality of a workforce that will likely never return to the office the same way as before the pandemic, new systems and tools to support remote workers, or even hybrid teams, is forcing most companies to undergo one of their biggest digital transformations yet. One of the functions within a company that is grappling with the biggest challenges in adapting is actually sales, particularly in the world of B2B where sales transactions are often high touch and highly relationship-driven.
With the landscape of face to face meetings and industry conferences likely reshaped permanently as employees seek out more flexibility in how they work, the challenge has been how to fill the relationship gap that is created for those in sales. Sales teams rely heavily on in-person connection and culture both internally among colleagues to drive performance and camaraderie as well as externally to facilitate complex transactions with corporate buyers.
The solution that has emerged and been adopted by many of the world’s largest brands has been deploying interactive technology that helps teams connect, tell stories and communicate complex sales solutions remotely, but in a manner that establishes rapport and simplifies the process. Kaon Interactive has helped Fortune 1000 companies globally with implementing such interactive platforms to facilitate the remote sales process and actually accelerate deal flow. Their CEO Gavin Finn emphasizes that especially as sales strategies go remote, relying on what he calls “death by powerpoint” and telling complex stories remotely requires even more intentionality. Gavin shares how sales teams are embracing remote tech both for improving morale and productivity of teams, but also to accelerate the sales process.
Do you find sales teams using interactive platforms for both internal and customer-facing applications or primarily customer-facing?
Gavin Finn: Internal and customer-facing are both active use-cases for sales teams:
- Customer-facing applications help the prospect to discover for themselves what the differentiated value of the company’s solutions are, when they by themselves doing their own research, and also when they are in a sales meeting (online or face-to-face) with a sales person. Customers experience an understanding of why the company’s solutions matter, how they are differentiated, and what the specific products/solutions do to deliver this unique value. By engaging with these solutions directly, they learn more, are engaged on different levels (intellectual, sensory, and emotional) and are consequently more likely to make better-informed buying decisions.
- Interactive applications and platforms are used internally to help the sales teams understand customer verticals and the specific challenges that the personas in the buying ecosystem face. These kinds of applications help to address the issue of increased complexity in the buying cycle. It is no longer possible for sales professionals to be experts in all of the buyers’ challenges, because the number of decision-makers has increased dramatically. These interactive solutions help to prepare the sales teams to ask the right questions, discuss relevant challenges and solutions, and bring useful insights to each customer meeting.
What parts of the sales process do interactive tools drive the most value for?
GF: Interactive tools are useful at both the early stage (awareness/interest) and also further down the buying cycle as the customer is making decisions and taking actions:
- At the early stages, interactive applications provide access to relevant value propositions that matter to each person in the buying ecosystem. Using interactive use-cases or solution stories, prospects engage with applications that show how their individual situations will be impacted by adopting the company’s solutions. This allows for all parties in the decision-making process to understand why the solution matters and how it will help them solve problems or capitalize on opportunities.
- At later stages in the buying process, prospects can delve into great detail using interactive value calculators, product tours, and product/solution selectors. This level of detail is relevant to making specific buying decisions (which solutions/products) when the decision process has progressed to that stage, and allows for consistent differentiation information to help customers make optimal product/solution buying decisions.
Are there any processes or tools that can be replaced or condensed as a result of integrating an interactive program?
GF: Many marketing processes can be consolidated and improved through the use of these interactive tools.
- Interactive solutions that are built on a platform provide a cohesive and consistent experience for prospects, customers, sales teams, and marketers no matter what the venue (online, offline, trade shows, webinars, sales meetings, etc.) This results in dramatic savings and process improvement because companies eliminate redundancy in the marketing tools they develop, overlap in the sales collateral that they build, and inconsistency in customer-facing experiences.
- Rather than creating (and often still printing) multiple brochures, videos, slide decks, etc. that become out-of-date almost immediately, these platform-based interactive applications are easily updated, persona-based, and can be regionalized (languages, specific products, etc.) so that there is one integrated solutions- storytelling environment rather than hundreds of disparate, stand-alone tools.
Sales processes become highly efficient when interactive solutions form the heart of their communications strategy:
- By eliminating the traditional “death by PowerPoint” presentations, sales meetings are transformed into engaging and effective interactive experiences, resulting in better informed customers who are motivated to take action sooner.
- Sales cycles are reduced when customers learn what they need to know through active interactive engagement without having to have multiple meetings, waiting to schedule time with subject matter experts, and iterating back-and-forth answering questions that could have been addressed earlier in the process.
Customers spend more when they discover the range of products and services that are available from a company and how they add value – all through the customer’s own self-guided interactive experience. Rather than sending multiple sales teams from different divisions to see the same customer, these interactive solutions offer the opportunity for customers to get one view of the company, and to reinforce the value-driven relationship that is the strategic goal, rather than the feature/function commodity sales cycle that is so common.