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Sep 29, 2020 9:04:16 AM

Digital sales maturity model – Is your business embracing digital?

Mari Silvennoinen

Principal Consultant, Strategy

Download The Digital Sales Transformation Handbook

Companies are currently investing heavily in digital transformation, and one of the central focus areas has been digital sales. According to Accenture, 75% of sales executives have said that sales tools today are an integral part of the sales process, but at the same time, only 15% described their sales tools to be truly effective.

While covering related issues in our blog posts, such as how to build an architecture that supports digital sales and marketing or how to build a suitable culture and mindset for supporting digital sales transformation, quite often we end up talking about what the digital sales development roadmap actually looks like. In these conversations, one topic came up several times: how to describe digital sales maturity.

“How do we define the target state,” “what does the roadmap look like,” and “which level are we currently at” have been some of the key questions around the digital sales maturity topic. The maturity model helps to facilitate discussion around these questions. In addition, it’s a useful tool that can be applied for many purposes, such as business planning and benchmarking.

digital sales maturity model

Key elements for assessing digital sales maturity

In order to understand what excelling in digital sales looks like, it’s most beneficial to start with customer experience. We believe that when the customer is able to do a purchase decision on their own through digital channels, it’s a sign of excellence in digital sales. This means that all the necessary information is provided in a way that allows the customer to effortlessly interpret the details and information related to the offering, as well as its availability. Deliberately hiding information and forcing customers to call their salespeople, or to visit a physical store to understand a product, are signs that the company is not fully trying to optimise their digital sales channels yet.

Secondly, we believe that digital sales maturity is shown through ways of working. The companies that are top-notch in digital sales do continuous testing to improve user experience and conversion rate. This requires work processes that are developed for exactly that purpose. It’s not the outcome of a few very inspired and driven individuals, but the whole organisation’s way of working, which is also a key element in our framework for transforming digital sales. Digital sales maturity isn’t about how much technology you have or how much you have invested in it, but it’s more about how you utilise the technology.

Thirdly, we think that leadership is an element that defines successful companies even in terms of digital sales. In top-notch companies, the distinction between digital sales and traditional sales does not exist anymore. It’s just sales by any means necessary. While there are hardly any brands that wouldn’t have any digital customer touchpoints, we believe that all industries are moving to a digital sales prioritised approach.

Getting started with the digital sales maturity model

We suggest that you start by creating an understanding of business benefits that you would gain for each level of digital sales maturity. After that, do an honest assessment for what's your company's position in the different areas of the model – sales channels, strategy & leadership, data & insight, KPI’s & measuring, and operational mode. This helps you in identifying gaps. It is also very important to understand and define how rapidly your organisation can develop new capabilities and what are the needed resources for that. Then you are ready to start developing a plan for your company to progress within the maturity model.

Digital sales maturity model

  Level 1: Basic Level 2: Progressive Level 3: Advanced Level 4: Mature
Sales channels

1-2 channels, which can also be digital channels and play a crucial role in sales. Still, digital channels considered to be more of a catalogue than a real sales channel. Physical sales channels are dominant.

Multiple channels for serving customers during their buyer journey. Sales channels are often siloed and there is no understanding of how customers behave between different channels.

Multi-channel sales model that encourages customers to do transactions in each channel. Focus is more in providing information than customer experience. Some effort in proactively answering customer needs and influencing customer purchase decisions and behaviour.

Omni-channel model. Channels are integrated, allowing a seamless customer experience. Meets customer needs even before they become aware of them with the help of analytics, AI and machine learning. Providing personalised recommendations and relevant content.

Strategy & leadership

No clear strategy and/or vision for developing digital sales or a plan for doing so in the future. Hardly any investments.

Some strategy work is done around digital sales and marketing. Development is done in separate projects and steering happens with separate digital sales and marketing plans. Quite often development functions of the organisation (like IT) are responsible for developing digital sales & marketing.

In strategy work customer experience, customer journeys, digital sales and marketing are taken into consideration. A robust plan to develop digital sales and marketing. High buy-in and commitment from the leadership team and high financial investments.

In addition to previous ones, no separate strategy for digital marketing & sales; they are part of the business strategy. A clear vision for implementing solutions according to the strategy. Continuous development in digital sales and marketing.

Data & insight

Barely any data, or the data is not actively utilised. Customer understanding is more based on the gut feeling of what customers might want than actual data.

Company has some data collected. One person or a small team of people manually analyse and provide insight for the rest of the company. Customer understanding is based on quantitative data from online sources and CRM analytics.

The company has a data strategy and a solution gathering wide ranges of data from different sources. Automatic reporting with key insights. Customer understanding is also based on qualitative understanding – research and customer interviews.

The company has a solution for collecting large amounts of data from various sources. Customer understanding is based on holistic data, and formed into customer personas and customer journeys. True 360-degree view of customers. Automatic reporting provides rich real-time insights. AI and machine learning are used to compile data and to create customer profiles.

KPIs & measuring

KPI’s and measuring are revenue and profitability focused. No deeper understanding of sales performance causes. Some transaction-based KPI’s.

Separate KPI’s for customer acquisition (like digital marketing), sales channel development (e.g. IT) and nurturing (customer service) while working in separate silos. The organisation has some level of understanding of the performance of different parts of the funnel and different channels.

The organisation has cross-channel targets and KPI’s. Measuring provides information on how different channels work together and how they differ in customer behaviour. Target setting quite often based on channels.

The organisation measures the effectiveness of digital sales by having common KPI’s for the whole sales funnel regardless of the channel. Shared KPI’s can be so-called North Star Metrics, such as CLV. The organisation has a strong loop from measuring to strategy and business planning.

Operative model

Planning extensively on a detailed level, and then executing the plans in project mode. No growth teams. Marketing, sales and customer service is done in separate silos.

Small growth hacking project(s), maybe a dedicated growth owner.  Continuous growth hacking for one product/channel. Implementing new things takes from weeks to months.

Growth experiments running on a regular basis and implementing new things after experiments is done in a few weeks. Growth hacking is the operative model in several business areas.

Growth hacking processes are an official part of the operating model. Growth hacking driven culture. Implementing new things after experimentation takes a few days.

 

After assessing your company’s digital maturity, taking the next steps requires bold strategy, the right talent, agility in development, enabling analytics, suitable technology and bringing technology to operations. In addition to this, you can also test Google’s and BCG’s digital maturity benchmark – it has proved its usefulness with extensive benchmark material.

Special thanks to my colleagues Ilona Kuusela, Mark Kyander and Lauri Larjo for valuable input for this blog post!


Learn how to thrive at the turning point of digital sales by reading The Digital Sales Transformation Handbook. Discover how digital sales transformation is changing companies, and how your business can leverage this change through organisational development, customer experience, ways-of-working and technology. Featuring interviews with industry experts, such as Marta Dalton (eCommerce Director for Unilever and Coca-Cola previously), Risto Siilasmaa (Founder of F-Secure) and Antti Kleemola (CDO of VR, Finnish Railways).

 

Download The Digital Sales Transformation Handbook


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