B2B direct sales: 3 conditions for digitization

Customer proximity is a major factor for success in the B2B sector. However, the current circumstances are making it necessary for suppliers and customers to fully embrace the digital realm and forcing many companies to face the task of rethinking their sales structures. We show you how digital direct sales can succeed, and in which situations it makes even more sense to rely on personal selling.

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The path to digital direct sales

The following three questions are a good starting point for digitizing your sales:

Question #1: Do your customers require a digital sales channel?
Although B2B customers are increasingly responsive to digital channels, this is not something you can always take for granted. However, the current situation means that it is becoming increasingly necessary for companies to position themselves digitally and demand the same from their suppliers. When choosing the appropriate sales channel, it is crucial for suppliers to put their focus on what customers actually require.

Question #2: Do you offer a standardized or custom product or service?
Whether digital sales make more or less sense depends on whether products are manufactured in advance or developed to meet customer specifications. Products and services that are standardized or configurable are particularly well-suited to automated and digital channels. However, personal selling remains key when it comes to more complex products and services.

Question #3: Do you know how the product or service will be used?
When simple products such as commodities are infrequently procured, suppliers are often unaware of what use the customer has in mind. This puts suppliers at a disadvantage, as they lack obvious starting points for skillfully using their sales approach to develop customer loyalty. It is important to recognize that after a (face-to-face) consultation, a new procurement can also be transformed into a digital re-procurement, on the basis of which cooperation can be simplified for both customers and suppliers.

Tips for a successful implementation

Here is where you can begin to realize the full potential of your digital sales strategy:

  • Connect the various channels: It is essential today to reach out to customers on a variety of different channels. You need to ensure that customers can seamlessly switch between digital and in-person channels. You can link different channels together by allowing customers to contact the responsible sales representative in the online shop, for example.
  • Leveraging the potential of inside sales: New technologies (e.g. in the context of sales analytics) are increasing the efficiency of inside sales and enabling digital customer management that is seamless and comprehensive. You can tap into the full capabilities of your in-house staff by assigning to them not only service activities but also sales responsibilities.
  • Don’t forget key accounts: When it comes to key accounts, the focus is often not on digital sales channels. However, in situations in which procurement itself does not take place digitally, digital means can be employed elsewhere in the customer management process. For example, you can investigate the option of offering a digital service platform or online spare parts ordering to your key accounts.