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FSI Blog Series, Part I: Digital Selling

Post Author: Joe D365 |

Our faithful blog readers know that HCL-PowerObjects is long-time, trusted, and award-winning Microsoft partner. After all, we are committed exclusively to selling, implementing, and supporting Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Business Applications. But you may not be as familiar with the synergistic partnership that exists between HCL-PowerObjects, Microsoft, and Seismic – the world’s most powerful storytelling platform. Our three businesses together provide a unique set of partnership benefits for our customers, including:

  • Execution deployment: we work together to accelerate your time to value by having data analytics and customized content aligned and ready for implementation and execution.
  • Data analytics: we infuse your Dynamics 365 interactions with real-time insights and relevance to help you identify the right messages to share with each customer.  
  • Customized content: we create intelligent, data-driven, and client-facing-ready content that is derived directly from the data and analytics in your Dynamics 365 platform.

In the coming weeks, we will explore the power of this triumvirate – through the lens of the Financial Services Industry (FSI) – in a four-part blog series. This first installment is devoted to Digital Selling, so let’s get started!

Digital Selling

Let’s begin by defining what we mean by digital selling: leveraging digital channels to discover, engage, and connect with prospective buyers with the goal of building relationships on digital platforms and ultimately turning those online connections into offline sales conversations. Simply put, digital selling is why businesses maintain presences on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Whether B2B or B2C, the modern buyer is savvy in their approach to identifying potential suppliers, so FSI businesses – particularly in banking, insurance, and capital markets – need a comprehensive digital selling strategy to achieve success in this arena. In our shared experience with Microsoft and Seismic, we’ve developed what we believe are the four keys to success in digital selling within the FSI channel.

1. Know Your Buyer

You may be familiar with the idea of a buyer persona – a semi-fictional (but rooted very much in reality) description of your customer. But which customer? Your average customer? Your desired customer? Your best customer? Your most common customer? Your most profitable customer? Actually, you should have all of the above defined because more than likely they are all different, subtly if not dramatically. Oh, and by the way, your digital selling customer is surely different than your walk-in customer. Your head could swim with all the buyer personas you need! But that’s OK – simply define them and then prioritize them.

When it comes to digital selling, not knowing the buyer you’re chasing is tantamount to casting a very wide but terribly shallow net – sure, you’re likely to pull in a few fish, but they probably are not the ones you want. Instead, you want to cast a very well-defined and specific net – one that is narrow but exceptionally deep – to attract the buyers you’re really after. The bottom line is this: know your digital buyer if you want to be a successful digital seller.

2. Content, Content, Content

One of the biggest differentiators in digital selling is thought leadership. As mentioned above, the modern buyer is savvy, so in the crowded FSI channel they will be naturally drawn to companies that consistently author thought leadership assets that offer proof of their position at the industry’s cutting edge of technology and customer service. Thought leadership in the digital space is exhibited most effectively through content: blogs, whitepapers, fact sheets, eBooks, webinars, case studies, etc. It’s here that Seismic delivers better than anyone

But… you need to share the right kind of content. If you truly know your buyer (see #1 above), you surely recognize that they are not looking for salesy content that attempts to do little more than list the features of your products and services. Instead, they seek actionable information that clearly articulates one or both of the following: how your brand can improve their lives and/or what differentiates your FSI organization from the hundreds of other choices they have. Simply put, you must deliver high-quality content that tells the story of your brand, paints the picture of how your prospect can relate to your brand image, and solves a problem that they may be experiencing. Educational content positions you as an FSI thought leader while demonstrating that you’re invested in helping your customers. 

3. Analytical Tools

When we ask FSI sales managers to identify their teams’ biggest opportunities for improvement, one of the most common first responses we hear is reporting and analytics. In digital selling, the key metrics that come to mind first are things like clicks, likes, and click-thru rates, all of which are easy to measure. But what about further down the sales funnel? Here, a business can be crippled by a lack of access to real-time data, the inability to slide and dice data from multiple sources, and the absence of a data hub for collaboration.

In the crowded and ultra-competitive asset management industry, for example, it is critical for companies to have real-time insight into the activities and successes of their field agents. But many firms struggle to manage dozens or even hundreds of spreadsheets and reports generated from several different systems. They need a proper analytics tool – something like Microsoft’s Power BI.

Consider some key benefits of a proper analytics tool:

  • Access to real-time data empowers management teams to make midstream adjustments.
  • Deriving key metrics easily and efficiently means being able to make evidence-based, in-the-moment decisions that positively impact organizational results.
  • Pulling data from multiple sources and being able to manipulate it to create otherwise-hidden insights can drive forecasting, long-term planning, and overall strategy.

Within any organization, the true power of data and analytical insights lies in the ability of stakeholders and decision-makers to access it, discuss it, and act on it. A data hub that allows free access and fosters collaboration can lead to increased productivity and improved organizational communication. As it turns out, success in digital selling is both data dependent and data driven. So, you must get to know your data!

4. Reimagine Selling

For better or worse, the internet changed the fine art of selling. The trials and tribulations examined in plays like The Death of a Salesman and movies like Glengarry Glen Ross have mostly disappeared in the internet age, only to be replaced by a whole host of new challenges related to selling in the digital world.

Digital has been an important sales practice for a few decades, but in recent years it has become the primary method of selling – and that was before the pandemic eliminated face-to-face content for all intents and purposes. As more businesses – even in the FSI channel – announce plans to continue remote work for the long run, connecting with prospects online is likely to remain at least 75% of your strategic approach to sales.

Simply put, while your goals and metrics for success probably haven’t changed, how you achieve them most certainly has. As Seismic reported in their recent eBook, Reinventing Sales Teams: Shifting from Road Warriors to Digital Warriors, you still have to keep the pipeline full, but now you have to do that primarily with digital approaches. So, evaluate the customer journey, understand how you formerly moved deals through the pipeline, and consider how to replace in-person methods with online ones. Then use the opportunity to consider new solutions to optimize the journey.

Conclusion and Next Steps

Well, there you have it: four keys to achieving success in digital selling within the FSI channel. Over the course of the next month, we will continue exploring the HCL-PowerObjects/Microsoft/Seismic partnership through an FSI lens. Future topics in this 4-part series include sales & marketing collaboration, personalization, and staying agile. We hope you enjoy! 

In the meantime, we invite you to read more about digital selling here

By Joe D365
Joe D365 is a Microsoft Dynamics 365 superhero who runs on pure Dynamics adrenaline. As the face of PowerObjects, Joe D365’s mission is to reveal innovative ways to use Dynamics 365 and bring the application to more businesses and organizations around the world.

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