4 Steps to a Proper Approach to Digital Customer Engagement

The pandemic has upended the systems of many sales and marketing managers.

Unable to physically connect with their customers and prospects, companies had to go digital. Many of them also accelerated digital marketing initiatives that already existed before the crisis.

Overall, companies have shown great resilience in embracing this shift. However, this crisis has highlighted a significant digital divide in certain areas, such as B2B sales in the electronics industry. The sudden change in the nature of demand and the shift to virtual sharing has resulted in severe penalties for companies that have been left behind in the current environment where digital is now prevalent.

In a 2019 McKinsey Global Institute publication [1] The authors state that “Digital leaders show faster revenue growth and higher productivity than their less digital counterparts. They improve their profit margins three times faster than average, and are often the fastest innovators and innovators in their industries.” Now is the time to invest in data, technology, and systems, according to McKinsey [2] Essential for bringing extraordinary knowledge to an ever-changing environment.

What leaders learn from the pandemic and how they adapt their digital sales and marketing efforts will determine winners and losers in the markets in which they operate. Here are some steps that sales and marketing managers can take to solve this equation:

Invest in ways to meet changing customer expectations

The epidemic has caused a massive acceleration [3] Digital trends that existed before the crisis, such as online delivery volumes, telemedicine, or teleworking.

According to the results of a study by Gartner [4]By 2025, 80% of business interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur through digital channels. Further, sales managers and other sales managers must accept that buying preferences have certainly changed, and thus the role of salespeople has also changed.

However, we have conducted studies that highlight that the electronics and semiconductor industry is still lagging behind in digital customer engagement. Results of our March 2021 survey of 180 global electronics retailers and suppliers found that the average customer engagement maturity score for the industry was just 2.4 on a 5-point scale.

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This immaturity is partly due to a lack of investment. The industry spends significantly less on marketing – as a percentage of total revenue – than its B2B peers. The average total marketing spend in the manufacturing industry is 14% of sales. But 85% of electronic component and semiconductor companies said they spent less than 3% of their revenue on marketing, and nearly a third (32%) of the surveyed group said they spent less than 1% [5].

You have to accept that customer expectations have changed, and therefore invest to offer them the solutions they want and need. It is now a business necessity.

Use digital channels to get closer to customers

Consideration must be given to how to scale the digital journey and go-to-market strategy. Keep in mind that there will be fewer physical and client meetings and a preference for virtual participation through targeted webinars or web conferences, in order to pass on information and create links.

For example, a company in the semiconductor sector used to organize an event for engineering teams for its main clients that brought together 500 people. Then the company was forced to go virtual.

Thanks to the digital format, they were able to expand the audience by organizing workshops, peer-to-peer design sessions, roadmaps and design presentations. This allowed the event to grow from 500 to 5,000 participants – a 10-fold increase. It is a good illustration of the impact of digital technologies on the development of activity.

Provide free access services to customers wherever they are

As Gartner notes on the web [6]Increasingly, B2B buyers want to engage with suppliers through digital channels and self-service services. This is becoming increasingly important as baby boomers retire and are replaced by millennials in decision-making positions. [7].

Steve Flagg, Founder and President of SupplyFrame

Take for example design engineers who need 2D and 3D models, reference drawings, or other technical content. They won’t necessarily come to your website to get them. From there, it must be understood that it is no longer enough to improve and measure your website activity.

In their new product design activity, engineering teams often use content and resources from community web platforms. It then becomes important to research how to provide the most appropriate technical content and design support.

Means should be offered to these potential buyers, wherever they are, in order to better understand their demands and thus influence their decisions. Companies should extend their free access and support services to other areas such as specific quotations or date provisioning.

Succeed with the right preparation, talent and budget

To succeed, integrating sales and marketing, the right talent and budget is essential. Companies should promote greater integration of sales and marketing at the organizational level through joint campaigns. This will require breaking down the barriers between marketing and sales and working together to define and improve the customer journey.

You also need to surround yourself with talent for developing digital customer engagement. The best talent to drive needed changes in the electronics sector – and more broadly, in the manufacturing industry – comes from abroad. To hire, businesses must turn to profiles from e-commerce or mass consumption.

Business leaders should engage in conversations with senior team members about the importance of digital transformation and meaningful customer engagement at scale. Reallocate investments to enhance digital marketing and digital customer experiences and roadmaps for these transformations.

The world has changed. We should not fall into the trap of reverting to good old practices, believing that a commitment to immature digital strategies is enough to grow the company. It no longer works. Now is the time to refocus roadmaps toward digital customer engagement, consolidate sales and marketing efforts to drive more targeted digital campaigns and expand market coverage. The major decisions that will determine future revenue are made at the moment.

Author: Steve Flaggfounder and president of SupplyFrame

[1] https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/innovation-and-growth/navigating-a-world-of-disruption
[2] https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/operations/our-insights/elevating-customer-experience-excellence-in-the-next-normal
[3] https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/the-great-acceleration
[4] https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/future-of-sales-2025-why-b2b-sales-needs-a-digital-first-approach
[5] https://supplyframe.com/resources/survey-digital-customer-engagement-infographic/
[6] https://www.gartner.com/en/webinars/4000269/the-future-of-sales-transformational-strategies-for-b2b-sales-or
[7] https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/future-of-sales-2025-why-b2b-sales-needs-a-digital-first-approach

(C) Figure. deposit

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