Accelerating the digital transformation: which online prospecting tools to adopt?

Since the beginning of the health crisis and following the constraints that it has generated, the increased use of digital tools has been imposed within families, private circles and companies.
After a quick report on the evolution of the general public's behavior regarding digital tools, we will see which attitude and good practices are to be adopted in front of the commercial upheavals that the companies have known, and that question the usual prospection techniques.
The new deal that was looming for companies in 2020, and that has become inevitable in 2021, justifies taking an interest in the new prospection tools and innovative reflexes adapted to the current business reality.
 

The Covid crisis and its impacts

At the beginning of 2020, the health crisis linked to the COVID-19 epidemic led to the transformation of everyone's habits and forced the acceleration of the activation of digital tools.
Schoolchildren 2.0, employees trying out telecommuting, field workers looking for solutions to compensate for the lack of presence... All of them are participating in the creation of a new social model. This model was created by the various Covid waves, the confinements, the curfews, the closures of non-essential establishments, the cancellations of physical events and trade fairs and the putting on hold of cultural life.
 

Forced adoption of digital tools

Before Covid-19, society had already turned to digital services.
They have become part of the daily life of Europeans, who increasingly order online. Amazon, Deliveroo, Airbnb or Uber are references in this field.
It is obvious that the crisis and distancing has accelerated the daily use of digital tools.
 
The adaptation of the official French application AntiCovid is a good example of observation of the evolution of behaviors.
Downloading the application, powered by the public authorities, was never mandatory. Its launch was a failure due to the low number of downloads and the retention rate of the application.
The non-optimal user experience and the collaborative effect did not work in its favour.
However, it was the generalization of the mandatory health pass that forced its adoption and reached a population still not used to digital technology, smartphones, applications and QR codes.
 
The health crisis has therefore encouraged the acceleration of digital practices in all social categories and fields of activity.
 

An acceleration also in the business world

The generalization of teleworking has required the forced adoption by professionals of digital tools and digital assistants in all fields of activity.
 
The crisis has been a real gas pedal in the adoption of a professional digital offer.
Companies have massively turned to remote payment applications and dematerialized business management solutions during the successive confinements.
 
It is unlikely that we will go back to our old habits. This is why it is necessary to understand the new practices related to the issues emerging from the health situation, regardless of the professional sectors affected.
Business leaders have realized the benefits of digitalized management solutions.
For example, they have developed a taste for immediacy: they like to receive a quick, clear and personalized response to their questions. This reassures them in a rapidly changing economic context: the market is therefore ready for novelty.

2022: the right reflexes for commercial prospecting

Change commercial habits, review prospecting methods.

The market is ready to experiment with novelty. Indeed, what other choices does it have when face-to-face meetings are becoming rare and participation in trade shows is impossible? Salespeople are losing the advantage of the field and the physical contact!
 
But the end of physical contact with prospects does not mean the end of human contact.
If this contact becomes more frequently virtual, it must become more efficient and personalized.
It is therefore important that those involved in commercial prospecting, for which human contact remains a determining factor, redefine their actions to maintain - or even strengthen - the links with their customers and prospects. This requires the use of workarounds or definitive replacement solutions.
 
Whether it's the detection of business opportunities or the exploration phase, the first contacts with prospects, the negotiation or even the signing of the contract, all the steps constituting the sales process must be apprehended in a new light.
 

Innovative online tools for better acquisition

The majority of business relationships are built on the ground, which is now digital.
Whether it's an email, an exchange on social networks, an online advertisement or a Google search, the web is now the medium for 80% of B2B acquisition processes.
Using the digital tool compensates for the lack of human contact with a personalized remote relationship.
 
In other words, less all-out prospecting and more quality in the customer relationship allow for greater productivity.
Without putting an end to the traditional sales rounds, for which human contact remains essential in the conclusion of the sales contract and in the efficient management of the customer relationship, the use of professional online tools must effectively compensate for the loss of physical contact by offering hyper-personalized experiences.
 
Pursuing your efforts on professional social networks such as LinkedIn, taking the time to optimize your websites' customer journeys, and analyzing your marketing campaigns in depth will allow you to mobilize your sales representatives and direct their time towards the accounts identified as the most strategic.
 
It is also and above all the use of an efficient CRM that will give you a decisive competitive advantage.

The importance of CRM and data sourcing

In this context of accelerated digitalization of companies, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) has also undergone a deep transformation over the past few years and is taking on an increasingly strategic role in an IT world where the platform, an extended service solution, is replacing the old ecosystems (made up of scattered software bricks difficult to interconnect).
 
CRM must be placed at the heart of the company and shared by all the company's players: salespeople, but also marketing teams or technical developers. It must also enable the generation and proper use of qualitative data.
By including all the company's profiles, the CRM will be able to meet the decisive transformation challenges in sales contacts, thanks to the ever more advanced personalization of the customer journey.
 

The CRM, a living and evolving organ

The CRM becomes a centralized system capable of meeting a multitude of needs (thanks to its ability to aggregate modules developed by partners) and also specific needs not managed or developed natively by the CRM.
The actors Salesforce, Pipedrive, Zendesk, Zoho or HubSpot (to name only the main ones) work this way.
They offer libraries of applications and API connections to various webservices for marketing automation, automatic event planning, online management of appointments, shared calendars and customer support. The list is long and evolves every day.
 

How to facilitate contact?

In this list, the action of making contacts at all levels of the conversion funnel (from acquisition and prospecting to retention and loyalty) becomes even more important.
Once a qualified contact has been detected, appointment setting is an essential moment, but the reflection on the best way to make and validate it is often neglected in the sales process.
 

Appointment setting, decisive in your prospect relationship

Online appointment setting allows you to start or develop your customer relationship management by building or enriching your database: contact information, reservation history, orders or services...
 
The tangible face-to-face meeting stage, as we have seen, is mostly replaced by videoconference meetings. The use of video conferencing has been massive and solutions like Zoom have taken advantage of this wave to overtake traditional players like Skype.
If Zoom, Teams and other solutions have become efficient thanks to various updates, the upstream planning of appointments or the management of agendas is not their strong point.
 
However, in order to save time for sales representatives and to optimize their prospecting, it remains very important.

What are the advantages of an online appointment scheduling solution?

If your professional activity requires regular appointments from or with your clients, if you spend a lot of time on the phone, managing reservations and updating your calendar, then it will be interesting for you to look at alternative online solutions.
Calendar management can quickly become a real white elephant.
 
Using the phone is time consuming, as is managing reservations and updating calendars. Online solutions are a simple and efficient way to save time, customers and money.
 
The advantages are obvious:
  • Avoid the use of the telephone and its disadvantages (unavailable interlocutor, unheard messages...)
  • Stop endless email exchanges
  • Give immediate visibility on the availability (you let your customers manage their appointments on the slots you have set, which allows you to acquire new customers). Availability, just like customer reviews, is a decisive argument. This way, you give yourself all chances to acquire new customers!
  • Let the customer choose the best moment to book: online appointment booking platforms are available 24 hours a day
  • Better distribute the arrival of customers by optimizing the way you welcome them
  • Cancel or reschedule an appointment has never been easier
  • Customers or prospects receive notifications, by SMS or email, and appointment confirmations that drastically reduce the risk of forgetting

The offers on the market

There are many softwares that facilitate online appointment scheduling. Democratized by Doodle, these solutions are a real progress. They allow customers to see the availability and make appointments online in a few clicks, on a website. Players such as Calendly, Simply Book Me or Lodago play their card and each have their specificities.
Some offer subscriptions to get your own professional booking website or, if you already have a website, to integrate a widget. Others offer no-subscription pricing (you pay per appointment booked).
Finally, free solutions exist within the limit of a certain number of appointments taken per month.
 
The Lodago solution is distinguished by the fact that it eliminates the need to consult a website. Indeed, thanks to the AMP email technology, the whole process of appointment and calendar management takes place inside your email. No more redirection to a website, the appointment is managed within a single email prospect. This gives you an unprecedented unprecedented competitive advantage and reduces 100% of the friction when making appointments.

Tomorrow, artificial intelligence

The years 2020 and 2021 have seen digital practices take over the habits of the old world.
It is unlikely that the return to normalcy will also correspond to a return to the old ways. Through experimentation, the actors of the professional world have realized the undeniable advantages of using digital tools: saving time, better knowledge of contacts, greater efficiency in prospecting.
And this is just the beginning: the acceleration will be exponential. It is highly likely that artificial intelligence will reach maturity in 2022 and revolutionize the online prospecting market.

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