The following blog is part of our #EnigenReadinar series, designed as a selection of condensed, text-based Webinars for you to read in your own time. In this two-part blog, we revisit our Webinar for the Nordics region in partnership with Oracle, titled ‘CX Digital Transformation in Sales’.
In the Webinar, Enigen UK’s MD Alex Love joined Oracle’s Director of Sales Strategy EMEA for Commerce, CPQ & Loyalty Cloud, Neil Pridham, in a discussion on how the digital landscape is transforming customer experience in B2B sales, and the steps your business needs to take to adapt to this transformation.
What’s all this fuss about Digital Transformation?
B2C businesses are used to the prioritisation of the customer and the focus on eCommerce that digital change has brought about, but the focus on an easy sales system, overnight delivery, and purchasing automation is imprinting on the minds of B2B customers as they go about making transactions in the B2C space. The drive for simplicity and self-sufficiency that is emerging in B2B transactions is originating from the customer and their experiences outside of B2B sales, and all of this is made possible by digital transformation.
In this new realm of B2B sales that are customer-driven, Neil says we have two choices. Traditional, and Self-Sufficient;
Traditionally, B2B sales takes the approach of using sales reps to outreach to customers. While this direct method is a great way to stay in touch with your customers, it’s expensive, regardless of whether these reps are direct or on-demand. The traditional alternative to reps is indirect sales; advertising, word-of-mouth, and social media.
On the other hand, self-sufficiency of sales is allowing the customer to approach your business; to diagnose their own problems and find their own solutions via independent perusal of websites and eCommerce stores. This method can be more convenient for the customer, and less expensive for you, but it can mean you lose contact with your target audience. The alternative to self-sufficiency in sales is assisted sales, where you maintain a customer’s anonymity but guide them towards a specific product.
Both choices – traditional or self-sufficient sales – are moving towards a digital environment, and underpinning this is the fact that customer experience is key. Increasingly, B2B businesses are expected to be consistent and adopt an omnichannel approach much like their B2C counterparts. When you browse a fashion retailer’s website on your mobile on the train and lose connection, the retailer knows where you were in your buyer’s journey when you pick back up on your desktop computer later in the day. Neil confirmed that this kind of approach is rapidly becoming the way B2B businesses are expected to operate – A 2014 Forrester report shows B2B buyers expect to analyse activities, view product information, take delivery, and return or exchange products across all channels through one source.
Underpinning all of this – Traditional and Self-Sufficient Sales, the effect of the Digital Environment – is Intelligence; Chat Bots, Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things – Data. We need this Intelligence to help build knowledge of our B2B customers to better shape the way we interact with them.
So, What’s Really Changing?
These are the key areas Neil suggests B2B businesses need to consider to stay ahead of the competition in the evolving digital landscape;
- Marketing – There are increasingly personalised marketing channels available to B2B businesses that utilise aggregated data we could never have dreamed of having access to before, such as specific interests and behaviour. This data can be used to improve the B2B sales process in terms of identifying what specific customers are looking for, as soon as they arrive on your website.
- Sales – According to Gartner, in B2B sales, “57% of the buying cycle is complete before speaking to a sales rep”. What B2B businesses need to be thinking about is how to access the influencers of the people making purchasing decisions.
- Service – In the B2B space, the Internet of Things has opened up the possibilities of self-service and self-diagnosis on a macro level; for example, many hospital scanners are able to diagnose themselves and request maintenance or parts before they break down, and B2B businesses must adapt to accommodate these opportunities. Additionally, it is important for businesses to transform their service centres into profit centres (please read our ‘Mind The Gap’ EnigenReadinar for a further explanation).
- eCommerce – Businesses must ensure that their self-service systems are cutting edge. Enabling your customers to buy directly and improving the sales process by removing third partners and offering customisation will soon shift from a desirable trait in B2B sales to a necessary requirement.
In Part 2 of this #EnigenReadinar, we’ll take a look at what Enigen UK’s MD, Alex Love, had to say on the topic of Digital Transformations in Sales. Read it here: CX Digital Transformation in Sales pt. 2