Where B2B digital transformation goes wrong
Many B2B companies invest in online sales tools that solve one particular problem or only address one type of customer or buyer persona. Digital transformation that isn’t holistic often reinforces a siloed experience for both employees and customers and adds to frustration.
For example, a beauty and personal care brand may want to create a self-service portal for business customers, like aestheticians and dentists, so they can automate online orders and product subscriptions.
However, customer purchase data from a B2B portal that isn’t integrated with inventory data limits insights into product availability for B2B buyers. Furthermore, if B2B buyers have to log into a separate platform for educational product videos, the extra step creates friction and limits the usefulness of the tool itself.
How to increase buyer satisfaction using digital direct sales tools
To increase buyer satisfaction with digital and direct sales interactions, B2B companies need to think holistically across the entire customer and employee journey, from a value-driven perspective—integrating digital tools into field sales that are complimentary to each other.
There are three pillars of B2B sales transformation that consumer products (CP) firms should consider:
Growth and customer satisfaction:
Organize and deliver new tools around customer outcomes, prioritizing customer-oriented KPIs
Efficiency and employee satisfaction:
Simplify and reduce cost-to-serve addressing legacy systems and processes that may be contributing to employee dissatisfaction and inefficiency
Alignment and delivery readiness:
Agree on what’s most important, and what technology is required to deliver tools to be ready to go to market.
If B2B sales transformation is only aligned to one or two of these pillars, the transformation process can often become delayed, ineffective in achieving increased revenue goals and costly for the business as a whole.
Driving B2B direct sales efficiency with digital tools
While in-person sales interactions are playing a smaller role in future B2B sales growth, it's critical for sales representatives to have access to digital tools that can help them deliver a superior customer experience.
Customers now demand more than just seamless transactions—they also expect personalized recommendations, proactive support and a VIP level of service for the products they purchase.
To meet these heightened expectations, CP firms must prioritize equipping their sales teams, and their customers, with the tools and resources they need to succeed.
Account management tools for B2B sales representatives
CP manufacturers need tools and services that can scale quickly to proactively support account management relationships with customers and partners. Disruptions in supply chain and customer demand make proactive account management much more critical.
At the same time, reductions in sales and field representative store visits require digital solutions to enable virtual service. Digital onboarding of new accounts, vendor management systems, chatbots and loyalty management accessible from native and mobile apps allow account managers to stay ahead of customer demands.
These sales support tools create increased efficiency in manual processes, increased sales and better customer experiences. For example, a B2B mobile app that optimizes reservation flow for vehicles can help sales representatives efficiently convert quotes into contracts.
Retail and field execution tools for B2B customers
CP manufacturers can also use digital tools to support field sales on the customer end, through digitization of inventory replenishment, training, consumer education and automating processes and systems.
Often, small- to medium-sized B2B customers lack the fundamental digital tools to deliver personalized experiences to consumers in-store and online. Then, consumers hold CP companies accountable, even though it’s CP customers that own the relationship.
Field sales systems, digital signage solutions, product recommendation and education tools, real-time inventory enablement and automated coupon offerings through native and mobile apps support the reordering process and provide business customers with the intelligence to drive greater lifetime value for their consumers.
For example, digital product education tools help educate B2B customers about the best ways to use, fix or even sell products to consumers, without the customer having to call or book a field visit for assistance.
AI, advanced analytics and automation tools for B2B sales leaders
AI-powered algorithms can analyze vast amounts of data to optimize and automate leadership decision-making, through identifying patterns, trends and insights that can inform larger sales strategies.
For example, a B2B self-service portal can provide teams with customers purchase trends, selling success metrics and cross-sell opportunities. This data can also feed into real-time inventory enablement to inform a digital AI-powered product recommendation tool for customers to choose a replacement product if one product is out of stock.
However, it’s essential for CP firms to have a unified customer data platform (CDP) with real-time customer insights to provide intelligent analytics.
Additionally, the enablement of data insights with retailers can provide access to critical data for how products are performing at point of sale that can help B2B sellers drive optimization discussion opportunities with customers and retailers. Data insights can also help gauge how trade promotions are performing to reduce profit erosion.
Getting started with B2B digital-first transformation