The digitalization of your order processes has many advantages. Ease of ordering for your customers, better margins through smarter (automatic) procurement. But it also has an impact on your sales team. In this article, I would like to show you exactly what impact digital transformation has on the sales teams of our clients.
Most B2B companies have an internal and an external sales team: inside sales and the account managers. If you ask how much time they actually spend making sales, you will receive a unanimous answer: not enough.
Order fulfillment and processing are very significant parts of the day-to-day job. During the sales process, many emails and telephone calls pass back and forth between sales and the customer before the right configuration (bill of material) and the right quantities are agreed upon. And then there is also the complexity of determining which pricing conditions apply to which customers. Special bids can also deviate considerably from standard discounts for certain products. And which parts of the product range may be purchased by the whole of your customer’s procurement organization, and when is authorization required by the procurement director?
Naturally, in the case of very large quantities further, negotiation takes place on the price. In spite of the established price agreements. A complex and time-consuming process.
But Hurray! The order is in. Is the sales team finished now? Sadly, the next stage comes along: the procurement process. Which distributor has the best purchase terms, which warehouse are the articles held in (internal or external), will delivery be possible on the day that the customer wants it, and at the desired delivery locations….
When the job is finally done it turns out that there is another small challenge… the customer claims that part of the delivery is not the same as what he ordered…
Has the customer made a mistake when he placed the order or has something gone wrong in the order process on the part of the sales team? Often, we don’t know; and then the customer usually gets the ‘benefit of the doubt’. There goes your tight margin…
A distributor told me that 17% of their orders go wrong in the order process! Can’t this be done differently?
Of course, it can.
Firstly, you give your customers a personal portal containing their product selection, the special prices agreed for this (incl. special bids), summaries of invoices, backlogs, contract conditions, etc. Now they can easily (re)order. If orders have to be authorized for a particular customer before they can be released, this takes place automatically. This alone frees up a lot of time for your sales team.
But you don’t want to force customers to order everything via the portal. Customers will continue to need advice. In the case of large and complex deals, there will always be a need for personal contact. Because that is the essence of your business.
For this reason, you will see that it is mostly small orders – the so-called ones and twos – that are dealt with via the portal. And that is fine because of the fact that no more sales effort is needed for these means that your margin is preserved.
However, a digital commerce platform also has a very important role to play with large deals. Because the configuration (bill of material) is put together in the order editor of the digital platform. The customer can view this process via the portal and always sees the latest version containing their changes to the configuration and the proposed price. If the customer wishes to accept the quotation, he goes ahead directly by pressing on ORDER via the portal. No more misunderstandings! Then the customer can follow the order process in the portal. So, no more telephone calls, either. And last but not least: the portal gives your customer a complete overview of all orders, invoices, and backlogs. Whether he orders digitally or with the help of the sales team: always completely transparent.
But we still have the procurement process. Or we don’t, in fact. Because all orders are placed digitally by the customer, you just pass these on digitally to your own warehouse, the distributor, or vendor/producer of your choice. With a bit of intelligence and the right integrations, this not only takes place fully automatically, but the system also selects where products are in stock and where the best purchase conditions can be obtained.
We call this ‘zero-touch‘ ordering. For the ones and twos, no more sales effort is required at all. And for larger deals, your sales team spends their time doing what they are intended for: giving advice!
And besides this, time is freed up for acquiring new customers and for bringing the relations with existing customers from an operational to a strategic level.
The only problem your sales team have now is that they have no more excuses for failing to achieve their targets!