Although most organizations now understand that technology can play a decisive role in B2B sales, they often do not know how exactly digitalisation can help them. Often organizations ‘put all eggs into the e-commerce basket’, while the customer is looking for a seamless omnichannel buying experience. Digital sales can also make the difference in in-person and remote sales, so opt for an integrated approach!
Partly fuelled by the Covid-19 pandemic, B2B sales is shifting towards three sales channels: in-person, remote (from home or office), and e-commerce. The market research agency Gartner predicts that B2B customers will increasingly want to do business via digital self-service channels.
In their report “The Future of Sales”, they predict that by 2025, no less than 80% of B2B sales interactions will take place via digital channels. Yet only 33% of respondents want to make purchases without the intervention of a sales representative by then.
Despite the enormous growth in online sales, offline sales will therefore remain the number one business driver. Especially with large and complex orders, there will always be a need for human contact and personal advice. So why focus all your efforts on the e-commerce channel alone, as often happens nowadays?
According to McKinsey & Company, the B2B segment is rapidly embracing an integrated sales approach – omnichannel. The research and consulting firm expect this to continue even after the Covid-19 pandemic. You may already have noticed that your customer is looking for the perfect omnichannel buying experience. They want maximum freedom of choice and thus the choice to buy in person, remotely, or via e-commerce.
First and foremost, your customer wants to be assisted as well and as quickly as possible. Digitalization is indispensable in this regard.
Customers have high expectations of the service level of online sales in the business market because of their good online experiences as consumers. They demand 24/7 availability, a user-friendly platform or webshop, the convenience of Digital Self Service, and Zero Touch Ordering.
With Zero Touch Ordering, as many processes as possible are automated and there is as little human intervention as possible, thus reducing the chance of errors.
In short, now that your B2B organization has embraced e-commerce, it is time to streamline your entire sales process, including offline and remote. The advantages of a single digital commerce platform for all your sales activities are obvious: more overview, less chance of errors, maximum self-service possibilities, and better service lead to satisfied and loyal customers.
So, the advantages of an omnichannel approach are evident. However, research by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), called “Digital Sales Market Insights”, shows the following. While many sales departments of Fortune 500 companies understand the critical role of technology, many organizations are not yet fully utilizing or properly implementing the productivity improvements these tools provide to create a competitive advantage.
The researchers state that productivity is the most important factor when evaluating new technology. However, more than a quarter of companies have not established a process to measure the added value of new technology over time.
Sales departments cite the dispersion of data across different tools as the main problem (42%). The lack of AI or predictive tools is just as often mentioned. The poor quality of data (37%) is also seen as a major stumbling block.
BCG concludes that most companies could use technology more effectively. Less than 40% of respondents think that technology can be used to achieve greater differentiation and competitive advantage. In addition, only 35% state that the team is stimulated to make optimal use of tools and technologies. According to the researchers, this is a missed opportunity.
The data that is most valuable to sales representatives contains knowledge that can increase sales. This includes cross-sell and upsell recommendations, customer transaction and engagement data, as well as AI-driven recommendations and follow-up guidance.
By linking offline and online sales, you not only save time and reduce the chance of errors, but you also increase the chances of sales growth. Salespeople have more time to add value because a lot of boring, repetitive administrative work is shifted to digital platforms. This allows them to focus on things like talking to (potential) customers and advising or assisting with complex purchases. This also makes their work much more enjoyable.
Another big advantage of an integrated, data-driven approach is that you can easily run personalized e-mail marketing campaigns. By supporting all sales channels from one platform, marketing and sales can finally be combined. In short, there is still a whole world to be won!