How to Adapt from Traditional to Digital Sales in the Furniture Industry
If the health crisis happened even a couple decades ago, you wouldn’t have the marketing and technology options you have today or the same opportunities to reach your prospects. With cancellations of major in-person events like High Point Furniture Market and NeoCon, the furniture industry is scrambling to maintain sales and stay in touch with prospects and clients.
How are you adapting?
Let's dig into some strategies for how to gain momentum during this time rather than just waiting it out for when trade shows are back in session. There’s nothing like personal connection to build recurring business, but it doesn’t have to happen like it always has in the past.
Ensure You Have Effective Data Collection
Recent studies reveal that online furniture sales are on the rise and browsing increased over 200% in March! This is great news for retailers who are ecommerce savvy, but what does it mean for the larger chain of manufacturers in textiles and furniture when it comes to B2B sales? Many manufacturers have remained stagnant in the digital realm because they never had to accommodate – sales teams were responsible for their territories, and they have relied on routine trade shows to showcase product and maintain sales throughout the year.
And now this happens: no trade shows, no in-person sales calls, no networking events. Increases in online browsing and spending are not helpful if your digital assets are not up to par; and even more so, if your systems aren’t integrated to collect data and pass it onto sales and marketing teams to create qualified leads, your sales funnel really isn’t funneling at all.
Now is the time to ensure that processes are in place to equip your marketing and sales teams to boost the pipeline and keep revenue streams flowing. Because let’s face it: if you don’t adapt, your competitors will.
1. Implement a CRM – and use it!
Are your sales reps and teams prepared with the information they need to continue their sales processes remotely? A customer relationship management (CRM) tool increases sales productivity because it centralizes data for marketing and sales activities so that your reps can see prospect activity all in one place. A great CRM should host real-time data and be mobile friendly for salespeople on the go, and it should be configured to connect efficiently with your other systems to ensure consistent data and communication. Sales reps benefit because they have all information in one place, which saves them time and allows them to focus on closing deals rather than administrative tasks, and sales managers also have insight into all sales activities as well as visibility into sales pipelines in order to forecast upcoming revenue for the company. Cloud-hosted CRMs like HubSpot continue to improve with technology, so it’s an investment that will always bring ROI due to saved time and resources.
2. Align marketing & sales processes
Marketing and sales teams need to be collaborative in order for sales to be consistent, especially while everyone is leaning on digital everything right now. Hold regular “smarketing” meetings to communicate effectively. Salespeople, communicate with your marketing team to hold them accountable for what content and collateral you need, and work together with them - provide them info on what you're looking for, and they can help you create the right information to boost the sales cycle. They can also track these collateral pieces in the background to provide you with feedback on how to increase your sales in the future.
What we all need to do is normalize the use of technology while closing the gap of what your customers need right now. The more data that you collect that allows you to give your customers a seamless experience, the happier they will be, which means more recurring revenue and repeat sales for you. It really is a win-win.
Open Yourself Up to New Channels
The industry will continue to thrive because people will always need to furnish their homes, offices, and other spaces with beautiful, comfortable pieces. The differentiator now will be who can rise above the clamor and communicate effectively with their prospects and customers. Use your already-established creativity and route it to find new ways beyond handshakes and face-to-face meetings.
Yes, it’s hard to adapt your event strategy into digital engagement, but if you invest time now into digital processes and tracking data, you’ll be positioned for growth moving forward – because digital is here to stay and can only help your in-person events in the future. Here are a few ideas to get you going:
1. Email sequences directly from reps
If you’ve implemented a great CRM (see above), your sales reps can create great email sequences to educate their prospects about the latest and greatest available products from your company. Or, the marketing team can set up the content for them and personalize it to send from individual reps so that when prospects reply, it puts them directly into contact with the rep in their area.
2. Personalized video emails
With a tool like Vidyard, you can easily set up and record personalized video messages and send them through email. It allows for prospects to see your face, and could even soften up the approach to scheduling a video call to learn more about your products.
3. Maximize Your content
The possibilities are endless when it comes to content – think about new ways to capture and speak directly to your personas in ways that are informational, helpful, and empathetic. Furniture is a highly artistic and visual industry, so you can become a thought leader within your space through producing great content consistently. This could include anything from going live on your social platform with the most engagement to sending out weekly email tips to highlighting the latest trends in your blog. The more you’re involved and engaged with your target audiences, the better – but remember ABCD: always be collecting data!
4. Digital advertising strategy (targeting, ABM, etc)
What better way to rise above the crowd than to get their attention in places they already scroll every day? Digital advertising allows your brand to target specific audiences with messages that are meaningful to them, which generates a higher impact. Whether it’s programmatic, social, or account-based (ABM) advertising, you can boost your presence strategically and use that data to increase your sales.
It’s Time to Implement
With the right tools in place, you can showcase your products and services now, even without in-person trade shows or events. Get in front of your audiences digitally and ensure efficient data collection through a CRM that will enable your salespeople to keep moving forward – no matter where they are.
Yes, there will be in-person events again one day, but with the right digital processes in place to keep your pipelines moving throughout the year, it will only help to increase your ongoing revenue as a supplement to major events a few times per year.
If you’re not sure where to begin, connect with a digital agency who can help with CRM configuration and implementation, or consider a long-term partnership for integrated marketing and sales enablement. Don’t feel overwhelmed: you can start with a few foundational elements and grow as you go!