B2B e-commerce projects are complex and changes in sales structures are something very special. We will reveal why this is so and what is key for making a B2B e-commerce app successful.
A combination of a sales force and a B2B e-commerce app – will it work? Many an entrepreneur has wondered whether a sales force will at all be required if online shops and e-commerce apps can take over the job of sales entirely. At the same time, others doubt that e-commerce solutions can provide the same level of convenience, service and commitment that a good sales staff offers. Even today, many believe that e-commerce and a human sales force will eventually lead to cannibalization.
In practice, though, we see that a sales force and e-commerce apps can actually be combined to complement each other and deliver profitable results. For instance, the sales staff of companies that run an e-commerce app for their regular ordering process can focus more on personal attention towards customers and dedicate more time in growing the business. Tasks such as providing general information and taking care of standard queries and regular orders can be handled faster and better by an e-commerce app, whereas providing personal advice and dealing with special requests or important negotiations require the expertise of a salesperson.
Why then do sales employees still often perceive e-commerce solutions as a rival?
Sales employees usually work under enormous pressure. After all, individual success is what counts most in their day-to-day business. They therefore prefer to be practical and rely mainly on their experience and tried-and-tested working methods. Change is easily perceived as a threat. Comprehensive changes initially increase complexity and temporarily slow down processes. Sales employees often find both these developments annoying and disruptive. Such reactions are often manifested in the form of insecurity and reluctance, especially if sales teams are barely involved in the development and implementation of an e-commerce app.
What can be done to put the minds of sales employees at ease and simultaneously make e-commerce apps more appealing for them?
Firstly, it’s important to have common goals. To secure the long-term support of employees, it’s vital that the entire team is involved from the very beginning. Everything in this regard depends on open, in-depth communication. In addition, the employer’s support in training their teams for new sales tasks is essential for sustainably integrating the desired changes into daily operations and promoting the sales employees.
A key success factor is evaluating the success of sales employees on the basis of the sales generated through the app. The sales staff must be motivated to actively promote the use of the app among customers. Under no circumstances should sales employees be at a disadvantage due to a shift in the sales generation process as this would make them work against the app. It is therefore vital to clearly include this aspect in target and bonus payment agreements.
Uniting the sales force and e-commerce apps
Intelligently applying B2B e-commerce apps will lead to a shift in the sales generation process and facilitate the growth of an organization. Capitalizing on the synergies of technology and human resources and perfectly coordinating the various sales channels are key to the success of a company.
Sales teams should at least see themselves as an equally important touchpoint in the customer journey – on par with the web shop, B2B marketplaces or B2B e-commerce apps. The subtle difference: e-commerce solutions should handle standard queries, whereas employees should use their human skills and the time gained through the introduction of the app for customer acquisition, visits to customers and trade fairs, negotiations for framework agreements, business development or other more demanding activities. Ideally, humans should be the driving force for the propagation and long-term application of the available B2B e-commerce solutions. This approach clearly creates a win-win situation for all parties involved and also helps companies increase sales and achieve growth.
Ultimately it comes down to maintaining the right balance between successfully established structures and resources and technological advancements. Technology by itself does not create success. Its targeted use within the framework of a holistic, forward-looking sales strategy does.