Efficient collection and utilization of customer data is the key to success in DX in the sales department. However, DX efforts will not succeed just by introducing tools such as MA, SFA, and CRM.
In order for DX to be successful, the key point is that internal efforts are ultimately returned in the form of “providing value to customers.” DX promotion staff should reconfirm common failures and issues faced by the sales department, and know the necessary measures as the first step of their own DX.
What is DX in sales?
DX in sales refers to DX in the sales department, and refers to activities that provide new value to customers through the collection and utilization of customer data. DX in the sales department mainly focuses on “effective use of customer data” and “improving the efficiency of your own sales activities”. The synergy of these two activities makes it possible to provide new value to customers (DX).
What should not be misunderstood in the promotion of DX is to misunderstand that DX has been achieved by streamlining and labor-saving operations. The goal of DX is to “provide new value to customers by collecting and utilizing digital data.” In other words, the operational efficiency and labor savings obtained in the process of promoting DX are transit points, and beyond those benefits must be the provision of value to customers.
This is the point that separates DX from digitization, and DX in the sales department will end up with sporadic measures if tools such as MA, SFA, and CRM are simply introduced. The point is that the person in charge of promoting DX at a company should recognize the difference between IT and digitization as a step and DX, which is the final destination, before proceeding with the initiative.
Why does the sales department need DX?
The necessity of DX is being called out in various industries and fields, and DX is still needed in the sales field. Many of the reasons for this are that the sales department is still mainly involved in analog business, and it is believed that DX can improve efficiency in many scenes and processes. For example, “face-to-face sales” is one of them, and there is no problem if you can approach customers and projects with a high probability of receiving orders in a timely manner, but if you do not manage and share customer data properly, it is essential for sales. There is a current situation where we approach even customers who should not.
Such an appropriate sales approach in the sales department is a problem that can be improved by introducing MA, SFA, and CRM tools, and it is a step to realize new value provision to customers through continuous collection and utilization of customer data. increase.
1-2 What will happen if DX is not realized?
If the DX of the sales department is not realized, the company’s business survival may be at risk because the sales department, which is the core of corporate management, will lose competition with competitors. It may sound like an exaggeration, but there will be a qualitative difference in daily customer activities between companies that are able to continuously collect, manage, and utilize customer data as mentioned above and those that are not. For example, most sales activities backed by customer data are possible with a lean sales approach. However, if you continue to conduct individualized sales activities, most of the customer data will depend on the sales staff, so you will have no choice but to rely on experience and intuition, which are not based on numerical data, for the appropriate timing of sales.
Sales activities, which had no problems in the past, will not be able to keep up with the business development based on competitors’ data utilization, and there is a risk of losing various sales opportunities. In fact, new entrants centered on data marketing are appearing one after another in various industries, and there are already cases where the same business model and business strategy cannot compete. Persons in charge of companies need to consider the direction of their own DX while paying attention to such “scenarios when DX is not realized”.
Issues faced by the sales department
There are four main challenges faced by sales departments.
- Loss of know-how due to personnel leaving or changing jobs
- Ability gaps between sales representatives are not filled
- inefficient sales activities
- Declining labor force
Personalized sales activities by sales representatives do not become a problem in normal times, but they surface every time an event such as a person leaving a job or changing jobs occurs. In addition, in sales departments where individualized sales activities have become the norm, there is a tendency for the ability gaps between sales representatives to not be filled, and the time spent on training personnel is also inefficient. As the labor force population continues to decline in the future, it will be important for companies to reduce the amount of work carried out by people and create a situation where stable work quality can be provided even with a small number of people.
Loss of know-how due to personnel leaving or changing jobs
This is not limited to sales departments, but there is the issue of loss of know-how due to staff leaving or changing jobs. Many of these problems are said to be in the field of sales where analog work remains deeply rooted, and problems surface due to the outflow of human resources. Information obtained through business activities should be regarded as an asset for a company. In order to maintain business competitiveness at all times, it is ideal for a company to collect and manage information obtained through sales activities and create a situation in which it can be shared across departments and the company as a whole.
Ability gaps between sales representatives are not filled
In companies where sales activities are highly individualized, there is a tendency that the ability gap between sales representatives is not filled. In addition, in companies that respect a performance-based corporate culture, there is a fear that information and know-how sharing between people in charge will directly lead to evaluation of sales activities, and a situation has arisen where information sharing between people in charge is not active. increase. Although it is an event that requires adjustment of the internal evaluation system, improvement is necessary when considering the business competitiveness of the company as a whole and the superiority of other companies.
inefficient sales activities
Many conventional sales activities have relied on the personal sales activities of sales representatives, but sales activities in the IT era require an efficient sales approach of “selling at the optimum timing.” Ideally, we would like to create an environment in which customer data can be managed both qualitatively and quantitatively using various sales tools and immediately shared between the marketing and sales departments. Although there are many opposing opinions due to the departure from personal sales activities, the point is to firmly convey the significance and merits of DX initiatives to employees.
Declining labor force
According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications ‘ ” Challenges in Japan’s Working Population” and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications’ ) is steadily declining, and the aging rate is expected to reach 39.9% in 2060. A decline in the labor force does not necessarily directly lead to a shortage of human resources in the sales department, but if the labor force population in Japan as a whole declines, efforts to reduce labor costs and save labor in the sales department will be accelerated in the future. I guess. Companies are forced to carry out reforms in order to survive, but this is conditional on breaking away from individualistic corporate activities.
3 benefits of sales DX
What benefits can companies enjoy by promoting DX in their sales departments? Typical benefits are listed below.
- Conducting efficient sales activities
- Break away from personal sales activities
- Conduct sales activities with BCP in mind
Successful DX in the sales department cannot be achieved simply by promoting IT and digitalization. However, in the process of promoting DX, the sales department can realize “efficient sales activities” and enjoy various benefits by “breaking away from personal sales activities”. In addition, by working on DX in the sales department, we can promote reforms including BCP (Business Continuity Plan), enabling stable corporate management even in times of emergency.
Conducting efficient sales activities
Promoting DX in the sales department will make sales activities more efficient. For example, tools such as MA, SFA, and CRM that enable efficient management of sales activities create optimal sales opportunities. Sales timing, which has so far relied on the experience and intuition of sales representatives, will now be accumulated as data that can be visualized using various tools. A typical example of this is the creation of sales opportunities through inside sales. A marketing method in which prospective customers are approached continuously through direct mail, telephone, etc., and handed over to sales representatives at the timing when their needs become apparent, is an efficient sales method. It will be indispensable in supporting the activities.
Break away from personal sales activities
By promoting DX in the sales department, we can break away from individualized sales activities. The key points are (1) digitization of customer data obtained by sales and marketing departments, and (2) reform to a state where it is managed and utilized in a state that can be shared immediately. “Sharing of customer data” and “standardization of sales skills” do not necessarily match, but some of the lost deals occur due to insufficient handover and sharing of customer data. In order to minimize human error and raise the level of the entire sales department, the first step is to build a system for visualizing and sharing sales data using tools such as MA, SFA, and CRM.
Conduct sales activities with BCP in mind
BCP (Business Continuity Plan) is a system that allows a company to continue important operations and survive even in the event of a crisis such as terrorism, disasters, or system failures (incidents). be a plan. In risk management, there are parts that can be controlled by the company and parts that cannot be controlled (force majeure) such as natural disasters, but from the experience of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the spread of the new coronavirus, companies have management plans and business plans that assume emergencies. It is wanted. Business survival naturally requires continuous sales and profits, so DX and BCP in the sales department are closely related. As the importance of non-face-to-face sales has increased due to the corona crisis, DX that is conscious of BCP will be a key point in the future.
What are the disadvantages and failure examples of implementing DX in sales?
What worries me about promoting DX in the sales department is the disadvantages that arise from promoting DX in sales. DX efforts often produce results in the form of “improving operational efficiency”, but there are cases where DX stumbles in terms of “providing new value to customers”, which is the original purpose of DX. What often happens is that “the cooperation with other departments does not go well, and DX initiatives end up with sporadic measures.” Even with DX in the sales department, cooperation with the marketing department is necessary to efficiently manage customer data. In addition, it is no exaggeration to say that “improvement of company-wide DX literacy” holds the key to success, as the introduction of tools requires cooperation with the management office, information system department, and general affairs department.
Also, because there are no personnel who are familiar with DX initiatives ( DX personnel ) in the company , problems arise such as the selection of tools necessary for DX and the inability to formulate the overall concept of DX. Not limited to sales departments, DX initiatives include (1) investment costs for introducing tools, (2) recruitment costs to secure human resources with knowledge of data utilization, and (3) training costs to develop DX human resources in-house. As this occurs, even if you take emergency measures each time, the limit will come before you know it. In order to prevent DX initiatives from failing, it is important to quickly secure human resources to formulate a method for promoting DX in-house and to establish a system that allows continuous operation within the company. Business people need to think about what they can do to avoid wasting their limited budgets.
Sales DX success story
As a successful case of DX in the sales department, we will introduce the case of INES Co., Ltd. INES Co., Ltd. is a company that supports customers’ DX with various ICT, divided into three business units: public, financial, and industrial. In light of the recent rapid increase in inquiries about AI utilization, we held courses to improve AI literacy and AI engineer training courses for employees. As a result, we are now able to propose optimal solutions based on “what AI can and cannot do” at the time of inquiry, and we feel that Sler has become more close to our partner companies.
INES Co., Ltd.’s DX efforts are explained in detail here, so if you are interested, please take a look .
[Company name] Ines Co., Ltd.
[Number of employees] From 1,001
[Background and issues]
As customers in the financial industry have increased their interest in and consultations regarding digitization and DX promotion, it was necessary to acquire the knowledge and skills to respond to them.
Take the AI literacy course, AI management course, and AI engineering course.
I understood that AI is not a panacea, and that it is necessary to draw a line between what it can do and what it cannot do. In addition, it has become possible to make more specific and grounded proposals, and to propose AI as an optimal method based on issues.
How to proceed with sales DX and success points
Based on the issues faced by the sales department and the reasons for failure, the following three points are how to proceed with DX in the sales department and the points for success.
- Improve company-wide DX literacy
- Think from the overall concept of DX
- Lead DX in-house
First of all, what is DX? Ideally, all employees should have a certain level of understanding of this question. As mentioned earlier, DX initiatives are never completed by a single department, and DX for each business unit will succeed only with the understanding and cooperation of other departments. Since the ultimate goal of DX is to “provide new value to customers,” the first step is to improve company-wide DX literacy.
The next step is to think about the overall concept of DX. Among the cases where DX initiatives fail, there is a case where “value was not provided to customers as a result of progressing as an initiative that was completed in-house.” Many of these failures are caused by proceeding without thinking about the overall concept of DX. If competitors are starting DX initiatives one after another, there is some impatience, but it is important to draw a complete picture of your company’s DX.
And the key to the success of DX initiatives is the point of “leading DX in-house”. There are various stages of DX, but eventually efforts will shift to the realization of business automation and business efficiency using AI and RPA. At that stage, if vendors and partner companies lead DX, there are cases where it takes time to design and develop tools and formulate operation methods. It is important to steadily advance DX initiatives, but it is also important to have a sense of speed in order to quickly secure a market advantage. Sudden changes due to market changes can occur in DX initiatives, so build a system that allows you to steer DX yourself and rebuild relationships with vendors and partner companies.
DX in the sales department often starts with the introduction of MA, SFA, CRM, etc., but we are satisfied when we see improvements in internal operations, and the original purpose of DX, “providing new value to customers” There are cases where it is not achieved. In addition, the competitive advantage obtained by introducing tools may be only temporary, and may be recognized as a sporadic measure when viewed in medium- to long-term corporate activities. In order not to invite such failures, it is essential to improve literacy to draw a complete picture of DX. We provide a “DX literacy course” to improve company-wide DX literacy, regardless of the size, from small and medium-sized enterprises to companies with thousands of employees. We are helping to improve the resolution of business ideas from more than 50 industry cases, so if you are interested, please check the class curriculum etc. here .