The relationship between customers and sales staff is changing dramatically as digitisation progresses. Just a few years ago, contacting the sales department was one of the first actions in the purchasing process. These days, 57 percent of the purchasing process has already taken place by the time a customer gets in touch with a company. By then, they are already well-informed. They have been on the supplier’s website to check out the details of the products or services, they have read reviews in forums, or chatted with other users via social media.
When customers approach a company after having gained substantial information and formed an opinion, their expectations of the sales staff are extremely high. Not only are they expected to be able to answer all specific questions promptly in accurate detail. They are also meant to ensure a smooth process flow thereafter, starting with the order entry. For the company concerned this means that they must give their sales staff the tools to access an extensive knowledge pool and complete tasks speedily. Digital support is a crucial prerequisite for this.
A web-based B2B sales platform can become the key component of digital empowerment. Sales staff can access such a portal with different devices and from any location. There, they will find all the relevant information on the company’s products and services – with greater detail and more precisely than the information available to the customer. The platform may, for instance, provide access to CAD drawings of machines or equipment or to technical specifications. The sales platform can also provide information about the market. Sales staff who are aware of comparable offerings by competitors – ideally with prices and delivery times – are better equipped to respond to relevant customer inquiries or to use the comparison in their sales talk.
Creating a quotation involves several steps. The product must be configured according to the customer’s specific requirements, the price must be calculated and potentially adjusted on the basis of specific conditions, and the delivery date must be determined. In the past, all this could only be done once the various details, which the sales rep had taken down, had been entered into the company’s central ERP system and processed there. It could take several days from the date of the sales call before the required information was available. With a sales platform in place, the entire data entry to create a quotation can be performed at the customer’s premises – because all the required data can be retrieved from the backend. A sales rep may actually send a firm quotation to the customer even before leaving the premises after a sales call or coming off the phone with them. And there is no need to copy any details manually; they are transmitted directly to the central system without any media discontinuity.
While selling is always about convincing customers of the benefits of your own products and services and motivating them to place an order, the workflows in part differ greatly from one industry to another. A technical platform should take account of this, and it should be possible to customize it and expand it flexibly. That also applies with respect to potential changes in the future. The developments taking place in the last few years have shown how quickly and fundamentally circumstances can change, and that goes for sales as well. In five years’ time, processes that no-one has yet envisaged may be perfectly commonplace.
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B2B E-Commerce Platform Optimizes the Customer Experience
With a B2B e-commerce platform, companies ensure an exceptional customer experience, thereby increasing customer satisfaction and their willingness to buy.