Digital Sales Truths & The Numbers Game

Sales_RobotDigital sales is changing the nature of sales – how so?

Does the essence of selling become different because of technology?

Is it a whole different ‘ballgame’ or still the ‘same old’ sales but ‘super-powered?’

How is the quantitative side of sales today? The more the merrier? What is “The Numbers Game?”

INBOUND & OUTBOUND and where it all ends:

Big discussion on doing Inbound vs. Outbound sales. This isn’t something that should be compared (if “you do inbound or outbound?”) but rather combined and only clearly understood, worked with, strategically. What matters is to clearly see the entire journey of the consumer, no matter how it starts. But there are always challenges to each step of the way.

1- Inbound is not just about Lead Generation

1.1- Good & Bad Inbound:

Inbound is taken as being friendly and a good way of presenting products/services without being ‘pushy.’ This is true, but there is also the good and bad inbound.

When you cut people out in the middle of your content or if before you let them have it you ask for a sign-up, that is bad inbound. It can work, as anything can. It just is the equivalent in aggressiveness to pushy cold-calling. You are “tricking” people into believing on something that isn’t true. All and any tricks are bad.

Outbound_SalesTricks are bad.

Fooling people is bad.

Remember this. Please.

Good inbound goes all the way into your product UX. It touches every step of the consumer journey and ultimately generates spontaneous referrals. It includes the human touch-points as well. It is about enhancing the satisfaction and good feeling and having the consumer ask for more.

1.2- The Stages of the Inbound Journey:

consumer-journeyThe key to work with Inbound strategy is to understand each stage in which the potential client will be at any given time. Understand the journey.

If you are generating leads, for example, it is such an early stage that you should not expect everyone to love you then. You shouldn’t even try to have everyone be in love with you for starters. Instead, focus on being true, on presenting things clearly and in an exciting manner, and enhancing, up to the highest possible level, whatever good feelings someone will have for your offer.

What you want is to have consumers excited and motivated enough so that they will push themselves further and further into the journey.

Especially when there is a steep learning curve for consumers with the product/service you offer, motivation – and a lot of it – is essential.

2- Optimisation can be dangerous and misleading in Inbound & Outbound:

By clearly separating the stages of the journey you can then bring analytics into helping you find optimisation points. This is very easy in theory, but in practice, and with the amount of offers in the market for different business analytics and optimisation technology, you can be working on something you do not need to work on. Having the wrong focus will be a waste of your time and resources, so it is crucial that you see the stages and optimisation points very clearly.

over-optimisingAt an early stage of the consumer experience, for example (lead generation/initial call to action), it is common to optimise emailing and messaging.

There is a point, however, where your conversions will be the same even if you tweak your messaging and do a lot of A/B testing.

Stop and focus on something different than messaging as fast as possible.

What you want is to communicate clearly, that’s it. Simple.

Things will not change much unless you are really experimenting on entirely different styles of messaging. So too much A/B testing will be a waste of time. Resources should be spent on the next stages once you are seeing that the responses on this first stage are good enough (people are being kind while telling you if they wish to know more or not, asking questions, etc.).

ON FURTHER STAGES things change. Depending on your product/service, there will be always a certain specific point that will be crucial to optimise well and to keep an eye out for adjustments through time. Your industry will evolve, and these key-points of your offered journey will need to evolve with it. The learning process, if there is one, is usually key. The “speed-into-conclusion”, be it a purchase or a data process delivered, is also key.

The further stages of the journey, after the initial one, are worthy of as many analytics metrics and investigative processes you can manage and afford to work with.

3- Outbound: Quantitative & Qualitative

Outbound is simple in essence. Get the message across to the right person and make the sale.

Master sales techniques will dive into each of these three parts:

door_to_door_salesmana) The Message;

b) The Right Person;

c) Making the sale;

If sales are not working well, one or more of these elements are missing. You need the three of them to finish the job.

The Quantitative element is key to give you more chances of finding the “holy grail” of the 3-elements.

The Qualitative element will be key to adapt into circumstances and make the best out of each opportunity.

Master sales professionals are those that take qualitative to the highest level. They are true about what they do, and the client feels it. They will inevitably create rapport independent of making a sale or not. They will always have an open door with clients and prospects and most likely will create a large network throughout their careers.

3.1- Personal vs. Digital sales: there is not a big difference

The difference on a personal, face-to-face contact, and digital, is only the use of the medium. The puzzle still has the same pieces to be put together.

Robot_21In digital you will have tools to detect if the person you contact is in fact the right person. This is a lot of what digital marketing is all about. Then more tools to message them and even to make the sale, negotiate, and offer the ultimate pleasant purchasing experience.

Don’t be fooled by the medium. Stick to the essence of the process. Digital sales is sales, then it’s digital.

When a personal contact happens, that is the moment you wish you have good sales people with you. People that LOVE being in sales.

Having passionate sales people is essential. Just understand what exactly they are passionate about first, so that you can “optimise” their work together with them.

Some sales professionals just love the money and the money above all. This is not a bad thing. Optimisation here would fall into the relationship building side of things, and product knowledge, most likely.

Others are passionate about the product above all else. This also may need optimisation on negotiation, company policy, and how to push into closing a deal.

4- Where does it all end?

The essence of sales has not changed and will not change. 

predictably_irrationalIt will never change because we are still human, and Predictably Irrational, among other traits we love to have.

So in the end what we are doing with the digital revolution is not actually a revolution in essence, but a revolution to the higher level processes. The essence stays the same.

We can speed things up, have a better view of what the consumer wants, feels, thinks, and his budget. This is what we are doing in digital, and the ‘digital’ part of digital sales. We are revealing key-information to ourselves so that we can then go into the essence and finish the job.

Again, 3 elements: The message + The right person + Make the sale.

5- The Numbers Game:




FunnelThe more people you manage to contact, the higher your sales will be. This seems obvious enough, but more often than not companies will deny that numbers are a problem.

If you contact 1.000 people in a month, and sell 10 units. When you contact 2.000 you will inevitably sell more. Simple.

Companies stick to a vicious cycle in messaging optimisation sometimes, and think that it is better to stay with 1.000 but to “optimise” all the details on that.

Optimisation comes ON TOP of the numbers game. It does not replace the game. The game comes first, always.

You can try to fake your reasons when speaking out, just don’t lie to yourself, or you will loose focus very quickly.

This is where Marketing & Sales are blood brothers, or even two heads of the same dragon. Together they are increasing the numbers in the game, and having a larger base for growth.

If you think and analyse the numbers game, including in there all Inbound + Outbound, you will be able to follow a trend that is true to the market penetration of your product/service.

If you have the world out there not knowing who you are… well… . . . . .

6- Final Thought: It all adds to ONE

zen-circle-five-peter-cutlerBring things together. Unify all your digital sales and marketing effort into one view. Get the most simple of metrics and stick to it. Then go from there.

From the ONE, you can then start to understand what the jungle of offerings and mechanisms out there can offer you.

If you don’t have a clear base, one central point, it will be very hard to scale and optimise whatever you do.


Alex Gonçalves

Born some time ago, close to the sea and a huge statue of Christ upon a mountain, in explainable ways yours truly has built a love for the understanding of the world around us. This constant 'groove' of curiosity has branched in a love for all things business and marketing related, touching into the arts and a lot of what happens in between.


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