What guarantees your B2B eCommerce success? Hiring the right development team to build your store? Expanding to more sales channels on the go? Well, these factors ensure that your infrastructure is stable and your digital presence is well spread. Yet, these alone don’t guarantee your eCommerce success. Your people do.
It starts with getting the word out about your eCommerce store. There are several ways to do it. SEO, branding exercises, paid marketing, press releases, and more. However, marketing strategies are devised to be long-term. They play the waiting game both in earning new customers and influencing existing customers to go online.
What else can spearhead your pursuit to get value out of your eCommerce efforts?
Your ‘Sales Team’.
Your sales personnel represent your brand and have a direct connection with your customers. They have earned your customers’ trust and can influence them to get over the line – Offline to online buying.
According to a McKinsey report, only 20-30% of B2B buyers want to interact with sales reps in person. What does this imply to the conventional selling approach? It is a mandate to embrace digital as a key component in the sales process.
Why does your sales team hate online?
What could stop your in-house sales team from evangelizing digital buying methods? It’s the fear of losing control over their customers. Also, there are concerns like:
- Losing their commission earned through offline sales
Commissions are an integral part of your sales staff’s earnings. By pursuing clients to buy online, they’ll end up losing their commission. Moreover, if they are not promised any commissions for sales done online, they won’t be motivated to encourage online buying.
- Being replaced by DIY services offered by eCommerce
eCommerce offers provisions to complete tasks that once required sales personnel’s support—searching and finding the best products to buy, accessing product information, comparing to find the best price, identifying if a product is in stock, and so on.
- Hesitation to learn technology-driven processes
Traditionally sales personnel are comfortable taking orders via phone calls and emails. Your sales team might find learning technology-enabled processes and business workflows hard to learn.
There are many other reasons that might keep your sales team from publicizing your digital sales channels to your existing customers. Though your sales team might not be open about such concerns, it doesn’t mean they don’t have any. In the forthcoming sections, we’ll discuss ideas to address these challenges.
1. Understanding changing customer expectations
Make it clear to them that embracing online sales is imperative to cater to changing customer expectations.
Your sales staff will have a set of companies they work with. These companies will have decision makers who are comfortable placing orders through phone calls and emails. Such decision-making roles will soon be replaced by millennials. By 2025, 75% of B2B buyers and decision-makers will be millennials. And what do they expect?
These younger generation buyers are tech-savvy, digital natives and expect 24/7 availability. They expect more DIY services and expect less human intervention or only when they need it.
So, becoming a highly informed salesperson using eCommerce technologies, digital tools, and intelligence is a mandate for everyone on the team. If your sales team is clear about whom they will be dealing with in the near future, it’ll help them change gears.
2. Taking up hybrid roles
Extend the role of your sales personnel. Having group sessions with the sales team to address their concern is a start. To earn their trust, offering hybrid roles is the way to go.
As offline sales mediators, your sales folks will be acting by listening to the instructions given by customers. Usually, they make a note of the product names, SKUs, and quantity of each item and placing purchase orders on their behalf. Additionally, they would answer queries like “what’s in stock?” “Where is my order?” etc. That’s not a wise use of a salesperson’s time.
You can help them make more significant contributions by providing them with additional responsibilities. Your sales team can act as customer happiness champions by asking them to rate and review their experience with your brand. You can flaunt such user-generated content on social media channels to build credibility.
3. Becoming an ‘informed’ sales person
Encourage your sales staff to play the role of a sales consultant. There’s a mile gap between being a salesperson who points fingers at the products a customer chooses and one who recommends the best product to buy. Tell them to shift from asking, “What would you want to buy?” to “What is the need or problem they are trying to solve?”
A salesperson can also help in onboarding existing customers on eCommerce. They can also provide training and introduce them to DIY services your store offers.
Your sales team can observe customers’ behavior online. For example, they can look at customers’ abandoned carts, drop-in orders, change in brand or product preferences or order frequency, and provide suggestions that suit their changing needs.
The takeaway here is your sales force will eventually build long-lasting relationships with clients.
4. Creating a competitive environment
You need your sales team to better their sales achievements month on month. It’s the best way to grow long-term. But how can you encourage individuals to keep pushing themselves?
Create a weekly, monthly, or quarterly leaderboard and reward top performers. Leaderboards build an environment where individuals are self-motivated to compete with peers. It works better than simply increasing sales targets for the team and individuals.
You could also map your sales staff’s KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to analyze individual efforts. It can later serve an organization as an intelligence to suggest improvements and channel sales efforts. Make individual sales achievements transparent across the team. Enable access for sales reps to track their work and that of their peers daily or weekly. By doing so, your sales reps will want to top the list, stay self-motivated and eventually contribute to the long-term growth of your sales team.
5. Rewarding digital sales wins
Your sales reps are not responding to change as they know their offline sales efforts are already rewarding. Disrupt it slightly by introducing handsome commissions for sales closed for their existing accounts via digital sales channels. Even with less commission for online sales, your sales staff will gain more as they can manage more volume with the advantage of eCommerce provisions.
You can also introduce short-term incentives. Start rewarding efforts like new user registration, first purchase made online, first eCommerce walkthrough completed, re-ordering, backorder etc. Such a rewards system would publicize your eCommerce store and the various features it offers your customers.
Providing commission for online sales will encourage your sales reps to complete a purchase in one of your multiple sales channels. For instance, if a product a client wants is out of stock in your store, your sales rep would suggest buying it from a marketplace (like Amazon) where it is in stock. By doing so, your sales rep has reduced your customer’s waiting time and completed a sale via an online channel. On the flip side, your customers become familiar with another digital sales channel from which they can buy your products. Your rewards encourage sales reps to complete a sale online, and you get to publicize your sales channels to your customers. It’s a win-win.
6. Training and Working together
Invest time in training your sales staff about your digital ecosystem. Make them familiar with the storefront, admin console, management capabilities, and operations of your sales channels like an eCommerce store, mobile app, marketplace seller accounts, and B2B portal. Your sales staff should be prepared to help buyers with whatever they want to do during their purchase journey. It could be placing an order on their behalf, raising quotes, backordering, re-ordering, pulling real-time stock levels, detailed product information, new arrivals, alternate product suggestions, and lots more.
Get on calls with your sales reps. Observe how they communicate and how they leverage opportunities to drive customers to complete purchases via online channels. Understand what they are missing or where they can improve. Fine-tune their approach and help them fill the gaps learned through close observations.
eCommerce is now imperative for B2B businesses. Your sales team’s buy-in is essential to derive successful outcomes as they are the ones who can advocate the benefits of your online sales channels and steer eCommerce ROI. The ideas we’ve shared in this blog are the practical steps to get your sales stakeholders involved.
By building a comprehensive sales approach pivoted on your eCommerce store, your business can develop long-term relationships with your customers, save time and cost on manual processes, reward sales teams better and make the most out of your online presence.