Technology has drastically changed the way we think about communication. Instant connections across great distances and entirely digital social networks are foundational to what work means for the mobile global workforce.
With this growing dependence on technology, it's no wonder that transitioning modern businesses have concerns about where they stand in relation to their peers.
It may be comforting or frightening to think that even major enterprises with successful tech brands still fail to implement effective digital selling strategies, some more notably DOA than others—like Apple's iTunes Ping.
Apple released a platform that provided an overly censored user experience while copying features on more prominent social networking sites -- with virtually no incentive for the user to switch other than the strength of the Apple brand.
The upside of disasters is that they provide a lesson and a teaching moment for others who carefully study what went wrong.
Ahead are five of the most relevant mistakes made in launching a digital transformation and implementing a social selling initiative.
1. Disconnection from the Current Trends
It's easy to tune out and believe that the old way is the best way. After all, if it worked once, why mess with success?
One of the primary mistakes in launching a digital or social selling strategy involves simply not appreciating the scope of change required because the project leads have not kept up to date with current trends and social selling's best practices.
Have no doubt that buyers are experts at online research and are well-versed in the latest tech. For example, 80 percent of B2B buyers are using mobile at work for research, and 42 percent of revenue at leading firms is influenced by mobile sales or research. Those that fall behind on giving B2B buyers what they expect are of little use to them.
Keep sales teams updated with recurrent training.
2. You Snooze, You Lose
Speed and agility are of the essence in the ever-changing dynamics of social selling. Responding both quickly and appropriately will give a business an unbeatable edge in customer experience. It's critical, though, to give equal weight to both speed and emotional intelligence.
Sales automation and enablement software will help change up the frequency and variety of contacts for a better follow-up overall. Persistence and concentration on value add will keep a seller at the top of the buyer's media awareness.
Persistently testing and improving social selling processes will keep a digital strategy afloat during the crucial early-development stages.
3. Playing It Safe
A strong batter at the plate knows that not every pitch is going to come down the middle and the homers are often riding at the edge of the strike zone. To swing for the fences and connect, sometimes all it takes is a small tweak or pivot.
The same goes for setting up a digital strategy. Sometimes, it seems as though Murphy's Law is spearheading the project, but that's no reason to give up on experimentation. Try, refine, repeat.
Most companies are fixed in the ways of the past, a product of risk-assessment from an outdated business epoch. These are the companies that a risk-taker will outshine again and again when it comes to digital strategy and content.
Learn from mistakes and take risks. Never forget that 74 percent of sales go to the first seller to provide value and insight. Don't be slow, but don't be boring either. Fortune favours the bold and the adaptable.
4. Prioritizing Revenue over Relationships
The drive to close may be what brought many sellers into this business, but too many inexperienced sellers concentrate too much attention on the close. It is all the events that lead up to the close that matter most.
Make the best use of the social selling tools and resources at your disposal to do the heavy lifting. Focus on building stronger bridges with partners, influencers, and buyer groups.
At the end of the day, the buyers want to transact business and build relationships with human beings, not online automation. Make sure you build strong bridges with buyers rather than worrying about the digital strategy.
Traditionally, surplus content means stronger marketing for the brand. While that may still hold true in some cases, a digital strategy should not exhaust the consumer with an aggressive presence.
5. Confusing Market Size with Market Potential
Old ways of looking at markets don't work in a time of rapid digitization. Research by McKinsey indicates that companies competing in traditional ways are seeing lower revenues and slower growth than digital natives.
While a grudging or marginal investment in digital is not bringing back substantial results, those who are investing aggressively in business-model innovations or entirely new business models are two times as likely to see revenue growth of 25 percent or more.
Master the Art of Digital Transformation
As simplistic as the above mistakes might sound at first, they continue to occur in myriad variations across industries and regardless of company size.
Sales depends on communication skills, now more than ever in an accelerated business cycle and an entire world full of diverse competition. Master the art of digital transformation in social selling, because this is unquestionably where B2B is headed.
Learn from the mistakes of others, stay on task without distraction, and experiment with new ways to connect with the buyer on a level beyond the digital. These techniques will help sales leaders seek out and conquer new challenges before competitors even realize that there is a market to be won there. In the new world, nothing gets easier, but it can always be better understood.