The field sales force is one of the heart of your B2B sales, coaching, controlling and motivating them is an essential part of your job…. No wonder, after all, your sales representatives are the business card of your company, they are the interface between your engineers and customers, they look after the latter personally and have a lot of knowledge. These advantages and capabilities offered by the field service must be used sensibly for business relationships – that is clear. But what about your online customer service portal? Or how do you run your online store? Are you paying as much attention to this one? If not, I’m curious what you think of the situation after reading this blog article. It may stun you, there are many analogies between field service and online store. What those skills are and how you can display them in your B2B online store to bring it up to the level of your sales force is discussed below:
#1 Know your customer personally
One of the key skills for sales representatives is empathy and people skills. Coupled with intensive preparation for customer contacts, empathy is the key to success as a sales representative. He knows follow-up and supplementary products that the customer could usefully require for the respective situation. To do this, he brings customers a curated, personalized pre-selection.
In your online shop, it is also important to accommodate your customers, in which, for example, forms are as easy to fill out as possible or certain fields such as address are already pre-filled when logging in. That’s not much of a challenge, though. However, how do you manage to “prepare for customer contact” digitally? At NETFORMIC, we use various concepts and (AI) technologies to ensure that personalized & curated offers and products can be displayed to your customers in the customer portal of the online shop.
#2 Make it easy for your customer to order
Offline, one tries to make it as easy as possible for the customer to place his orders through a lot of customer contact. Thus, the customer is usually assigned a personal contact person with a phone number. In addition, this person accommodates the customer by writing the offer for the customer and filling in points, such as address, etc., in advance.
However, in the digital world, you can also make the ordering process convenient and straightforward for your customers by allowing them to upload CSV files, for example. Equally useful is the option of historicizing orders so that they can be easily ordered again. With the help of chatbots, you can also map the personal support digitally. Today, these can already answer a broad portfolio of standard questions and can even be trained in such a way that your shop visitors and especially your logged-in customers feel perceived as individuals.
#3 Help your customer find the product
By the time the customer decides to buy, the sales force has had several points of contact with them. Thus, after the initial meetings, he has recorded the requirements of the customer and shares them with the manufacturer. There, together with the office staff and engineers, he works out the right offer with the right products. However, this personal knowledge of products and customers will be increasingly lost as the majority of sales representatives are over 50.
Digitally, however, this knowledge is encoded and can be accessed at any time, so your B2B online shop should be given just as important a role in the sales process. Above all, an error-tolerant search is the be-all and end-all. It should be so good that it “understands” what the customer wants based on the click behavior and the entries in the search field. The technologies elasticsearch or FACT-Finder, which we implement for our customers for search, also enable personalized shopping experiences and search-driven campaigns. In order for your customers to find the right products online and to be advised and supported in the case of complex products, the use of informative filters and product configurators is suitable, for example.
#4 Don’t forget the first impression
The first impression is decisive – an old truism that nevertheless contains a great deal of truth. Studies show that this impression is even correct in most cases. Due to evolution, it was finally necessary to distinguish between friend and foe at lightning speed. A few milliseconds are enough to check whether the other person is trustworthy and likeable.
So it’s hardly surprising that the classic sales representative wears a smart outfit, gets out of the right car and brings you new innovative products.
The same is true online, of course. Instead of a suit and a car, you need to update the design of your online presence. Being visually “fancy” isn’t necessary at all. Usability is essential and should be high, so that the customer can easily find his desired product. So get thinking about the Customer Journey and spruce it up! Likewise, placing your most innovative and awesome “star” products prominently can help make that first impression.
In order to scale internationally, business development faces high hurdles. So you visit free agents and wholesalers on the spot and you try to find out the suitable ones and to get into business relations with them. This is often a major challenge because of the different languages, processes and cultures. Setting up your own branch abroad is also an option for international expansion, but this route is associated with even higher costs and risks.
Here the point clearly goes to online: The technologies we use at NETFORMIC allow your online shop to internationalize without any problems. For example, we make an unlimited scalability possible for you and also multistores in multilingual are no problem. Thanks to role-based legal systems and multi-client capability, different laws or customs duties worldwide are no challenge. This way you can set up subshops in your own languages, with a special assortment or for certain brands with an individual rights & roles concept.
So your sales force remains your poster child in the offline world, and that’s a good thing. The “features” of the field service can also be implemented in your online shop. So why not make your online shop your flagship in the digital world! Ideally, your sales department has combined both in an effective strategy – field sales in addition to online shop with focus on the respective strengths of the channels.
And – in which analogies did you recognize your company? Where are you wasting opportunities with your online store? Start your online shop and customer service portal project now. There are enough levers, if not now, when?
We facilitate the entry into our clients’ digital transformations with strategy workshops and market analyses as well as develop successful, scalable and future-oriented digital solutions and individual developments for them.