Digital visibility is the key to success. Strategically, there is no way around switching the sales processes to digital, as confirmed by the majority of executives examined in this article. In the text, one will also find out how companies face up to this challenge. For many, digitization provides the opportunity to upgrade a traditional process with new technologies or to complement the existing channels with another. The change, however, is more far-reaching. Because the traditional model followed a “push logic”: Sales gave the impetus to the flow of information – direct acquisition, sending marketing materials, meeting potential clients, selling presentations, and arranging high-level executive meetings. The new model has a “pull logic”: the impulse comes from the customers. They decide when and where sales come into play and how they want to interact with it. For this, information must be provided centrally.
It has been estimated that around 90% of B2B shoppers search the Internet for keywords, and 70% watch videos to find out about a purchase. 57% of the purchasing process has already been completed when a sales representative is contacted for the first time. So, if you are not present in the information and initiation phase, you may not be able to enter the shortlist of suppliers in the future.
The good news is that digitization can pave the way to the customer much more directly than is possible with traditional sales structures. In addition to its own website, a new universe of digital channels opens up: e.g. Communities in social networks where subject-specific topics are exchanged. There, product experts can talk directly with users about desired features, technical specifications or matching services and even competitor offers. Those who professionally record these channels can get access directly to users of technologies in the customer companies and already establish themselves there as a knowledgeable expert.
If the previous contact base extended to just a few contacts in technical purchasing, digitally, ideally, hundreds of engineers working with similar technologies and products would be reached. Trust and customer loyalty can thus already arise at a very early stage, and the later formal purchasing process becomes more efficient through the preparatory work.
Sales also benefit from new devices and applications. With their help, customers’ preferences can be captured much more accurately – for example via tracking technologies and algorithms. They create transparency about how interested people come to their own website, what kind of information processing they value and what possibilities they use to contact them (e-mail link,
Search engine, referral in social networks). One learns which pages and products are viewed for how long and whether and what is being bought. From this, for example, tailored recommendations can be generated for the customer (“Customers who bought xy also needed z”).
The centralization of information and the networking of data provide opportunities to use this knowledge for contracting. Apps and mobile devices enable the sales staff to access the entire product portfolio directly in the sales talk – assuming an optimally integrated system. He can configure offers interactively and also include relevant customer data. The price for the offer tailored to the customer can be compared in real-time with that of other providers.