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Buyers are far more informed than they once were, and they've grown more autonomous. Empowered with information and technology, they expect more from sales professionals than ever before. To rise to this challenge and to drive revenue, sales leaders must become more digitally minded than they have been in the past.

Here's a quick chart that draws a distinction between an analog mindset and a digital mindset:

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The Analog Sales Leader

"Hit the phones! Call more people! Buy more lists! Close! Close! Close!" Those are the battle cries of an analog sales leader. You know the type.

Analog sales leaders often grew up in the analog age and learned how to close deals before the digital age ramped up and buyers gained more autonomy. They still believe that sales reps – not the customers – are in control. Some believe that buyers would flock to their reps if only they knew how great their products' features are. Their go-to playbook includes: pitching, more pitching, and pitching even harder, on email, the phone, and at trade shows.

Sure, some analog sales leaders might recognize that they need to use other digital channels like social media, and they might even tell their sales teams to use LinkedIn and Twitter to pitch buyers. But they don't provide training on best practices, and when push comes to shove, it's all about more cold calls, more cold emails, and more information about the product.

The Digital Sales Leader

Digital sales leaders are online all the time. They know about all the latest sales technology and how it can be leveraged. In fact, they probably have this chart as their background on their laptop:

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You can see a larger version here.

But being a digital sales leader isn't just about investing in sales technology. It's also about understanding modern buyers' habits and needs. Digital leaders encourage their reps to interact with buyers on their buyers' preferred channels, and they recognize that sales conversations rarely start with cold pitches. Nowadays, sales professionals need to act as trusted partners who educate and guide their buyers.

In that sense, modern sales professionals are acting more like modern marketers, who traditionally have the responsibility of educating and nurturing prospects. (Want to know if you're a digital CMO? Check out this post.) That's why digital sales leaders aren't living in silos anymore. They recognize that they need the help of their marketing counterparts, who have already adapted to the digital buyer and understand best practices on digital channels like LinkedIn and Twitter.

Learning from One Another

Of course, most sales leaders aren't completely analog or completely digital. A digital sales leader wouldn't expect a rep to close a deal on LinkedIn, without picking up a phone or meeting in person. Rather, sales leaders exist along an analog-to-digital spectrum, and there are a few things that each type of leader can learn from the other.

For example, digital sales leaders have to fight the temptation of bright, shiny objects. Whenever a new piece of technology comes out, they feel like their team must embrace it. Other digital leaders might put too much faith in technology. They believe that software will automatically bring in more revenue, and they forget about training sales reps, providing them with best practices, and changing their mindsets about modern buyers.

Analog sales leaders, on the other hand, could stand to be more open to technology. In today's market, phones and auto-dialers aren't enough. Reps need to use a variety of tactics, including social selling, so that they can find buyers and be found by buyers earlier in the sales process. Working with social media experts within the organization can actually help boost revenue. (After all, social sellers realize 66% greater quota attainment than those using traditional selling techniques.)

Where Do You Lie on the Spectrum?

If 0 is a completely analog sales leader and 10 is a completely digital leader, where do you lie?

If you'd like to learn how you can become more digital, we have an ebook that can help you.

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Posted by Mark Bajus

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