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The Future of Selling is Human Again?

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Baskar Sundaram

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The Human vs. Digital debate has been an ongoing one for years now.  Traditional sales folk vouch by face-to-face conversations, while e-commerce sales units think that everything needs to be made digital. While it would be just outright vacuous to state that digital is not important for sales, it would be equally mindless to dismiss the importance of the human touch in sales

B2B Sales Scenario

In fact, B2B sales leaders employing effective digital achieve a several fold growth compared to their peers who do not employ the same level of digital in their operations. However, various surveys have highlighted a very interesting fact – Customers love the human touch backed by great digital interactions. It is however a very tricky balance, because the one thing that annoys customers is too much interaction. There are no tried and tested recipes to get the human-digital ratio right in the business. Businesses need to create the right human-digital proportion that works for their customers and operations. Research shows that B2B customers want both human and digital interactions on their buying journey, preferring one over the other at various stages.

Finding the right balance

When researching a new product or service the majority of customers who enjoy digital, still want human interaction. In the evaluation and consideration stages, customers mainly prefer digital tools that provide factual information, like a comparison tool and reviews. Again, post purchase, during renewal, cross-selling and upselling, digital tools remain much preferred. The trick is to identify where human interaction is most wanted and ensure it is provided – either as expertise available via a web chat or simply having a person pick up the phone when a potential customer rings.

Invest wisely

Companies also need to invest in digital where it is most valued and where digital can enable humans to do a better job of interacting with customers when the human touch is required. Digitally enabled tools can help enormously to reduce slow turnaround times, for example by connecting customers with experts via a web chat. By taking stock and analysing the sales performance of the recent past, it will be possible to identify areas of improvement. Sales leaders must then focus on whether they can implement the change digitally or by introducing some human interaction there. Either way, the optimal digital-human balance is a proven factor in boosting sales performance.

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