The role of the B2B sales representative is undergoing a significant shift, as the rise of eCommerce broadens eCommerce quickly permeates the wholesale market. Many of the traditional processes involved in B2B selling are now conducted through the Web, but inbound and outbound calls are still prevalent. Sales representatives still play an important role in the business process, but the difference lies in the role that they are now playing.
In more traditional setups, sales representatives are often the first contact that a B2B buyer encounters. They have the responsibility to convey their company's values and the effectiveness of their products in a short window of introduction. This requires them to know enough information to answer both general and highly technical questions about their catalog.
In the current "Sales 2.0" environment, clients are entering the transaction with a greater knowledge of their options. Some B2B companies already offer self-service web store access exclusive to clients, which we discussed in an earlier blog post. Since sales reps are often not the first point of contact, they are now called upon to address more complex issues, such as pricing, logistics and fulfillment.
According to Small Biz Daily: "Customers come to the table with background research completed—it's now the sales reps' job to push them to the final step toward completing the sale."
A Case Study in Publishing
For one specialized industry, the evolving role of the sales rep is even more pronounced.
Publisher's Weekly recently published a profile on the sales team for various publishing houses, whose job is to make sure that booksellers, critics and influencers have the access to potential bestselling novels. Many book industry professionals now use a large database called Edelweiss, but the sheer volume of products and efficiency of the categorization system means that booksellers are often overwhelmed.
The job of the sales rep is to put the human touch to the publisher's promotional efforts. They use Edelweiss to make sure that advanced reader copies (ARCs) are available, but they end up personally recommending novels to the booksellers. Book store owners, in turn, passionately champion specific titles themselves.
"The publishing industry has come to realize that while existing technologies can greatly help streamline the distribution and fulfillment process in books, sales representatives are still crucial in creating the kind of buzz the will put their new releases at the forefront of booksellers' minds," Publisher's Weekly states.
Integrated CRM: A New Frontier for Sales
To better equip your sales representatives in the dynamic field of B2B selling, your company can adopt cutting-edge CRM technology that integrates with the rest of your business processes, creating a seamless ecosystem.
Your sales team can use Connected Business' CRM module to coordinate marketing waves, pulling from a database of customer, prospect and lead lists. Because the list is fully integrated build target lists for individual sales reps and update the list in real time, minimizing instances of redundant calls.
Connected Business also makes it easy for you to document different types of Customer Activities such as callbacks, meetings, case follow-ups, and more. The CRM module can help you ensure that the level of performance remains consistent across different work shifts and locations.
The built-in Business Intelligence also provides with concrete and measurable analytics. According to Ivey Business Journal, analytics gives you more credible business justifications for trying out marketing techniques. It also gives you a more thorough assessment of performance through different time frames.
Technology has radically changed how the B2B market works today, but it also provides your company with more effective tools that can help you deal with challenges head on. Contact Connected Business today to learn about the CRM module and how it fits with the rest of our omnichannel business solutions.