Enabling Sales with Self-Serviceability
Sales enablement is the merging of digital enablement and self-service experiences to empower customers and sales teams to drive growth.
Sales teams are adapting their sales playbooks and using digital to create results. A recent report indicates sales enablement budgets will increase 50% by the year 2027. At the heart of that growth are self-service experiences that help customers and internal teams make decisions and accomplish tasks with less friction or need for human intervention.
No matter the sector – B2B, B2C, NGO, NPO, or other – self-serviceability and digital enablement can streamline operations, provide valuable insights about users and impact the bottom line. Yet, while many have employed some digital elements in their sales process, many are still catching up.
Breaking with Tradition
Over the years, when working with executives and sales teams to devise their digital strategy, there are common phrases I hear that shed light on those leaders' relationships with digital. These comments usually arise while outlining the sales model and sound something like this:
- "We don't need our website to generate leads."
- "The website is there only for customers to vet us so that we look legitimate."
- "Our product is too complicated (or our sales process is too complex) to sell online."
- "We are a traditional handshake business."
- "If somebody wants to order from us, they will pick up the phone."
Where did this attitude of reducing the website to a glorified sales brochure originate, and why has it persisted for so long with sales leaders? I suspect organizational silos, competing business units, and friction between traditional and digital business models are at play.
Take, for example, a business that provides various business solutions with a multi-touchpoint sales process. At any point in the purchase journey, the customer may interact with an on-site sales agent, contact an online sales support specialist or purchase services through an ecommerce portal. A holistic customer-experience strategy would put the customer at the center to optimize the experience across channels. Yet, in this example, each business unit viewed the other as competition, cutting into their quotas. This focus on rewarding wins for the business unit over growth for the organization results in a scarcity mindset that creates hurdles in planning and adopting transformative digital models.
What if your web platform could improve all aspects of the sales process, enabling the customer and acting as a tool to support sales and marketing in their efforts? Is a web platform that generates leads and revenue a bad thing?
Organizations can no longer afford to rest on their laurels; thankfully, many are changing their tune. Economic headwinds, talent shortfalls, the rising cost of goods, the collision of big data and artificial intelligence, and shifting consumer expectations are driving the trend toward self-serviceability and sales enablement.
Shifting Toward a Digital Mindset
In a previous article, I shared how companies are making themselves more resistant to future uncertainty with digital enablement. In sales, the shift toward a digital model can have several benefits:
- Creating better, self-service digital experiences improves customer loyalty
- Self-serviceability allows businesses to gather valuable customer insights on products and buying behavior
- Digital sales channels can meet the customer where they are in the purchase journey and geographically
- Automating mundane or repetitive steps in the sales process allows teams to focus on providing better service
- Creating efficiencies in the sales process reduces drag and employee attrition
- Digital education, training and onboarding lessen the amount of resources and number of people needed to manage the process
- Offering self-service options can create a competitive edge over competing businesses
Taken together, these benefits translate to increased value for the customer.
What Does Self-Serviceability Look Like?
Self-serviceability is defined as the ability of a user to perform tasks or solve problems without human intervention. What does self-serviceability look like in the sales process? Below are a few examples.
Digital Product Catalog
Forrester Research estimates that 50% of potential sales are missed because users are unable to find information required to make a purchase. When you digitize your product catalog, you allow your customers to search and consume your product information in meaningful ways. Imagine customers exploring products or services by category or type, but also by compatibility with their existing solutions. You can also create lead-generation opportunities by offering functionality to configure products or calculate quantities or costs – important steps in the product purchase journey.
Allow the customer to explore, consider and purchase products or services on their own. This doesn't necessarily mean there is a shopping cart or checkout process. Digital commerce can be any part of a sales process that results in an order being generated.
Allow customers to search a database of information to determine the right fit for the product or solution. These platforms may include FAQs, search forms and chatbots to help customers find information. Historical searches can be used to drive the most searched topics to the top of the results.
Live Support and Chatbots
Let customers interact via chat (with a human or chatbot) to ask questions and arrive at products or solutions based on a set of conditions. More and more customers are willing to start a chat than to pick up the phone, at least in early stages of a purchase journey.
Sales / Customer Portals
Sales portals are powerful ways of connecting customers to the business and its sales teams. Access to important resources, order history and communications helps manage sales processes and provides self-serviceability. Imagine customers being able to replenish stock or build an order with their sales rep in a secure environment.
These are a few examples of the main strategies organizations increasingly use to create growth. Believing that any software or tool can create self-serviceability would be a mistake. How the technology is woven into the service footprint of the organization is vital in creating self-service experiences, so strong leadership is needed to break down existing silos.
When you empower customers and sales teams with the right tools, you enable sales while creating valuable insights, trust and loyalty.