Sales departments are currently in the middle of a change process. The main reason for this: the Internet and digitalisation are transforming customer behaviour. The classical rules of the game are changing. Discover here how B2B Sales can react to the transformation.
The B2B Sales department of the future is fully digitalised
Traditional sales can be roughly summarised as: the Marketing department generates leads and gives the contact data from these to the Sales colleagues. They then speak to potential customers and try to win them over for a certain offer, inspiring them to close a purchasing deal. To achieve this, the salesperson provides customers with relevant information on the respective products and services. This means Sales departments play a significant, active role in the process – until now.
Today, they are losing importance. The Internet and digitalisation have turned the rules of the game upside down in one decisive aspect: today, many customers are doing their own research on offers and service providers, comparing them and talking about them with colleagues before contacting the respective Sales department and starting negotiations. In other words: they expect the same purchasing experience that they know privately as B2C customers.
“Fifty-seven per cent of the purchasing process within the B2B business has already taken place when the decision-maker contacts the sales person for the first time,” according to the Akademie der Ruhr-Universität (German).
Companies have to be visible online
This is the reason why businesses have to be visible online. If they are not, they will not be on the radar of the majority of interested persons and will not even be considered in the purchasing decision. This affects many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). So, they need a digitalisation strategy within their sales. The sooner, the better.
Another important finding from Akademie der Ruhr-Universität: “In more than 75 per cent of companies, marketing activities will be the most important basis for leads generation in future.” Which is why the Marketing and Sales departments should collaborate more closely than today. The common goal has to be the effective online delivery of keyword-based content – thus grabbing attention and winning leads. Thanks to their experience, the salesforce can make a relevant contribution to this process, as they know best what customers are interested in.
In the course of going digital, this means the company needs to have the right specialists on board who are familiar with the suitable software (CRM tools) and can generate target-group-specific content. This personnel has to be trained in-house or be brought into the company. Once the right know-how is available, it can be leveraged to the benefit of B2B Sales for the following purposes:
- Planning and realising a comprehensive digital strategy
- Ensuring a well-functioning customer journey
- Having informed and approachable employees
- Knowing and satisfying customer needs
Customer-centricity, ad-hoc info, sales channels: what customers expect today
Today, interested persons have other expectations compared to just a few years ago. And companies have to react to this with digital sales tools – while keeping the following key aspects in mind at the same time:
- The focus is no longer on a product or service. Instead, the focus is increasingly on the concrete interests of customers. Which means offering communication and a customer journey that are as personalised as possible.
- The standard expectations of B2B customers today include solid information on offers. This means, for instance, providing FAQs, datasheets, user manuals, white papers and prices.
- Research must be as easy as possible. So, the design of the website and special landing pages must be clear and intuitive.
- The entire process – from initial contact to the purchasing decision to customer service – should be digital.
Three concrete tips for immediately boosting sales
Considering the above-mentioned points, a few approaches can be developed for a fast effect – granted there is the right team on board:
1. At the heart of the modern B2B Sales department is a database which provides all the information about customers and leads that stakeholders involved need. Without such a tool, it is nearly impossible to prepare, analyse and automate customer communication.
2. Several forms of media and channels should be used to provide information and reach the target group for B2B business.
3. The salesforce must create content or at least make an effective contribution to the conceptualisation and realisation of such. Only in this way can the necessary interplay with Marketing take place.
In the end, it is about communicating with interested persons as precisely and individually as possible. This was once a main task for Marketing for a long time – and now B2B Sales is playing a more significant role here. This is only possible thanks to a digital-based exchange of information. Those who don’t follow this route will slowly drift out of customers’ sight.