Why digital sales will stay the most important sales strategy even after Corona

Justin Michael
September 7, 2020

COVID-19 moved every sales rep online. But what will happen once the pandemic is over? According to Justin Michael, it will stay like that!

There is an argument that all one needs is a phone to be successful today. But honestly, the phone is just a piece of a way to unleash an omnichannel strategy that is maximum effective during the crisis. 


“The pandemic gives those willing to press on an opportunity to string together technology that helps them build a pipeline independent of their ability to network in person,” elucidates Patrick Joyce. 


There is a pocket of reps that is anti-social selling and truly all about the old school methods. “Just give me a phone, a pen, and a pad and leave me alone!” Those Luddite methods work – no question! – but blended with other media, it’s an undeniable turbocharger tactically. 


This is a historic moment. I think, during the crisis, every sales rep went “full-bottle” on LinkedIn. They started pushing out content, learned how to optimize their brand and web presence, and unleashed a wide variety of digital tools. Some of which they had never even touched ironically. 


LinkedIn made a dramatic move from a top 40 website to number 16 in North America. Suddenly, engagement is through the roof. But for some reason, there’s less emphasis on groups. Sellers are seeking community. 


This pushed Groups offline as the feature was deprecated. The coolest thing in B2B to be a part of in 2020 are private Slack Channels and Collectives. Whether that’s Revenue Collective, Bravado, A Sales Guy, Wizard of Ops, Sales Confidence (EMEA), or Modern Sales Pros (MSP), there’s a group for everyone to collaborate. Robust Slack channels like “Book Clubs” and virtual job boards, even digital clubhouse environments – spontaneous Zoom drops – to socialize with peers, are becoming more commonplace. 


Inbound Marketing and platform leaders like Hubspot and Marketo revolutionized the 2010s. We could suddenly all build robust mailing lists, get opt-in, and start to score our leads as they moved through the funnel interacting with our content. Automagical inbound selling. 


In the 2020s, “outbound sales” are back in style in a way hitherto never-before-seen. 5B dollars of VC will be invested in the category by 2030, marks Aragon research. This is excellent news for you, the seller, and you, the B2B Sales organization.


Post pandemic, restrictions on proximity to HQ will ease up. The world of work is going to become ever more distributed. The upskilling on digital platforms, content marketing, social selling, sales engagement, personalization at scale, and remote coaching will create a sales force globally that is 10X ahead of where it was a year ago. 


Fueling the growth will be a new set of technologies and a new stable of best practices to turn a 10s output team on 10X. In fact, this is a very smart advertising strategy for Outreach.io. 


Platforms get smarter - predicting your behavior, benchmarking it against your company peers, and the industry. Zoom becomes cooler with emojis, custom backgrounds, skins, interactive multimedia, shrinking your head, sharing your screen, playing a movie in the background. Everyone should check out Zoom’s update, Snap filters for Zoom, and what Phil Liblin is working on, former CEO of Evernote – mmhmm.


There are no more excuses to lean on conferences, events, dinners, in-person, and planes, trains, automobiles approaches. We can all let our fingers do the walking. The new digital sales approaches, full-funnel marketing, demand gen, and all things Revenue Operations are a silent revolution transforming before our eyes. It significantly shapes all sales in the Roaring 2020s and beyond as we bridge toward eventual Singularity - the merging of human and machine systems. 


As a seller or revenue leader, be careful as you evaluate AI, ML, Natural Language Processing, Computer Visions, Deep Learning AI, and Neural Nets. Watch out for all these buzzwords in products and services. Much of this is Fake AI. AGI - true artificial intelligence is not even possible. Do we have self-driving Ubers, flying cars, hoverboards? Nope, that was all supposed to happen in the year 2,000. 


The actual rollout of digital selling looks more like a Minority Report interface transposed over all the platforms you manually use now. ML and AI are unlocking efficiencies as your JARVIS Iron Man Suit. 70% of the top funnel outreach motions can be automated by the state of tech 3 years ago. We want to free up the human to do what they do best: create, scope, imagine, solve problems, emote. The art piece, the trust advisor piece, is unlocked as you have more time to think, build strategies and tactics, and advise clients. 


Be on the lookout for two megatrends: converged systems and subspecialization. Digital selling is a Moneyball endeavor. Sales become specialized as Marketing already figured out. SDRs and Inside Sellers start to come in all flavors: masters of referrals, replies, cold calling, social media, data analysis. Positions on your sports team become hyper-specialized. The rules and boundaries of the SDR-AE Industrial Complex or 2010s Henry Ford predictable revenue model applied to sales will be shattered.


CFOs are not going to pony up for $1,000/rep/mo for 15% of high growth companies, as Lars Nilsson of Sales Source cited. Eventually, dialers need to be data providers. Sequencers need to have conversational intelligence, need to signal intent data, need AI assistance. We are seeing that in the major sales tool players. The most sophisticated orgs will build skunkworks to beta test all the hottest tech. Chad Nuss at InsideOut has an SDR test kitchen for testing thousands of personalized sequences – a prime example of the level of innovation being brought in for competitive advantage. 


There’s no turning back. It’s a brave new world. The crisis has vastly accelerated exposure, aptitude, and behavioral change toward digital selling. All these skills will remain and accelerate in a critical storm of funding, remote selling, and Artificial Intelligence gains in computing. Humans who can be trusted advisors will be in the highest demand ever. Good news for the seller!