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Nov 7, 2019 | 4 minute read

8 ways to digitally enable sales reps through B2B ecommerce [+ Infographic]

written by Linda Bustos

While many B2B sellers have embraced digital technology to serve customers better, most companies still drag their feet when it comes to digitally enabling field sales according to a recent study.

Equipping sales with digital tools helps them do their job faster, serve accounts better and close more deals. Don’t miss these 8 digital tools that can help empower B2B salespeople (and scroll for an infographic at the end!).

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Though 82% of B2B companies have connected CRM with digital commerce, that still means one in five has yet to make the integration.

Linking CRM with digital commerce supports the personalization of content based on customer type, account, user attributes, site usage or purchase behavior. It also offloads routine administration tasks from sales people, giving customers 24/7 access to account, quote and order history.

CRM-commerce integration gives salespeople anytime access to:

  • Full visibility into the sales funnel across channels and touchpoints
  • Personalized offers and discounts by account
  • Real-time information on product availability, pricing and discounts allowed by order quantity
  • Customer context: what they’ve browsed online and other digital actions taken across touchpoints (making cold calls warmer and warm calls hot)
  • Relevant cross-sell and upsell suggestions
  • Detailed instructions, such as under what conditions to seek permission to close an order

And it allows sales reps to:

  • Manage outreach programs and offers
  • Conduct recency, frequency and monetary value analysis
  • Set up custom triggers and “alerts” for automated or personal follow-up after digital engagements

Sales intelligence

49% of B2B suppliers use sales intelligence (SI) which helps sales and business development representatives (SDRs and BDRs) identify new leads and strategically build and prioritize a qualified sales pipeline.

Integrated with ecommerce, email and other digital touchpoints, sales intelligence can feed SDRs and BDRs with valuable context for personalizing outreach, making cold calls warmer.

SI can also identify and augment contact records with missing information such as company, industry, job title, email address, social handles and location/territory, pushing this data into the CRM. This helps sales reps keep the most accurate and complete information about their accounts.

Inventory management

Access to real-time inventory helps sales reps prepare quotes and serve accounts better in the field and on the road. All sales channels should have consistent inventory and location data, but only 48% of B2B merchants leverage inventory management systems.

When integrated with ecommerce and sales portals, inventory management can suggest substitutions for stock-outs and other cross-sells and up-sells, and provide visibility when stock is expected to replenish. Sales can set up back-in-stock alerts for themselves to follow up with accounts, or to notify accounts directly.

Real-time quoting

With manual price quotes, it’s easy to make errors for pricing, discounts or other terms. These mistakes can lead to customer disappointment when promises can’t be fulfilled.

Configure Price Quote (CPQ) tools enable B2B sellers to provide rules-based quotes tailored to an account’s profile, needs, customization requests or other qualifiers quicker and more accurately. It also supports pricing models such as:

  • Margin-based discounting
  • Channel pricing (e.g. partners, wholesalers)
  • Multi-tier pricing
  • Loyalty discounts
  • Pricing based on location or seasonality

Yet, only 38% of B2B sellers take advantage of real-time quoting tools.

When integrated with ecommerce and the website, CPQ supports customer self-service and can personalize catalog assortment and pricing by individual account, industry or other segmentation rules.

CPQ also supports back-office operations such as real-time collaboration and approvals across sales, operations and pricing teams. This offloads manual work (and stress) from sales reps, satisfies buyers’ need for speed and can shorten the sales cycle significantly. Some AI-driven CPQ tools leverage predictive data for quote acceptance and can optimize quotes for profitability.

Sales order management

Sales order management allows sales reps to place orders digitally and pass order details to relevant systems such as accounting software, ERP, ecommerce and other back-office systems. This eliminates manual entry (and its errors), duplication across systems and reliance on paper, spreadsheets and other databases.

It also gives reps a single view of orders across channels, including orders placed directly by customers through digital channels, and the ability to edit or update an order, track status from quote to delivery, and view payments and credits.

Anytime access to order information allows salespeople to serve customers much better, cutting out the need to check multiple systems or call the office. Still, only 44% of B2B merchants provide their reps with digital sales order management.

Digital payment processing

59% of B2B merchants support digital payments such as credit cards, automated clearing house (ACH), wire transfer or virtual cards. Life’s easier for sales when customers can use their preferred payment rail (and it’s a competitive advantage).

Related:The State of Digital Payments in B2B Commerce

E-signature solutions

54% of B2B merchants support e-signatures, allowing sales reps to confirm purchase orders and other contracts digitally, anywhere. This helps deals close faster and reduces manual record-keeping.

Mobile apps

35% of B2B merchants have mobile apps that aid both customers and sales reps with order entry and access to ecommerce features. But the opportunity remains to build dedicated apps for sales reps integrating CRM, sales intelligence, CPQ and order management capabilities with digital commerce.

Beyond access to the mobile web, mobile apps support features such as:

  • Barcode and QR scanning
  • Image search
  • Speech-to-text
  • Location-aware services
  • Offline access
  • Push notifications for workflow approvals
  • Push notifications for order updates and customer service alerts
  • SMS and Messenger integration
  • Touch login

Grainger is one company already reaping rewards of mobile sales apps. Grainger’s average procurement process involves 5 people, 6 handoffs, 42 steps and 3 approvals. Integrating order management workflow with mobile notifications has sped up order approval processes by 30-40%.

b2b commerce sales enablement infographic

Related:B2B Mobile Commerce Apps Are Hot - Here’s Why

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