Digital sales processes: customer relationships become interactive
How can digital sales processes improve buyer/seller relationships and pave the way to closing a sale? This is all about understanding the forces at play in the delicate relationship between the parties, which may be summed up in a figure: according to Forrester’s analysts, the proportion of B2B buyers who prefer to look online for answers to their questions instead of consulting a seller has recently grown from 53% to 68%. There are multiple reasons for this: on one hand, there is the inescapable ‘onslaught of information’ that is typical of the digital age and mobile connections, making anyone reachable by business messages; on the other hand, a number of – extrinsic – limits that have to do with buyer/seller interaction.
Interaction between the parties is essential, because, if there isn’t any, then that trusting relationship that remarkably increases the chance of success cannot be possibly developed. Interaction is created by multiple factors. On one side, there are the personal soft skills, then the specially-developed sales techniques, and lastly there is technology. As far as sales techniques are concerned, we could start to speak of a proactive approach, that is, the seller’s ability to anticipate the buyer’s needs and timely solve any criticality that may arise from using the product. Moreover, it is essential to address buyers with the intention of solving their problem, not selling them a product, but – above all – the relationship must be built on an entirely customised quote. This is the pivotal point that affects the interactivity of the relationship: a customer will lose interest in a quote that he sees as irrelevant to his business, so it is up to the seller to prepare not just a ‘customised’ quote targeted to specific needs but also all the supporting materials, from brochures to presentations.
Digital sales processes and interactivity
It is in the need to customise a quote and – most importantly – in the entire relationship with the buyer that the importance of technology can be perceived, because tech and digital are naturally interactive. Using an integrated sales tool with a customer is a huge step forward, not to just to remove any chance of error, streamline the process and handle it professionally, but also to build an effective and, indeed, an interactive customer relationship.
The starting point are the digital marketing materials. If the process is based on proper tools, then the seller will certainly have a chance to show the customer digital catalogues and, most importantly, relevant information about the product or how to use it. Another extremely interesting tool are interactive brochures, which enable customers not only to find out and learn more about a product – which they might already know – but also to relate it to the company and its business. In other words, to get to know a potential supplier better, with the help of videos, (customised) presentations and web pages, with the addition of a healthy dose of adlibbing, based on relevant case studies and info-graphics, maybe specially developed for the purpose or simply posted online. Piquing the buyer’s curiosity is undoubtedly the first step to add dynamism and interactivity to the relationship, which can pave the way to a lasting bond of trust.
Digital sales processes add interactivity to customer relationships, even – and especially – when configuring the quotes, which are born to be customised. But taking a traditional approach, with the seller listening to the customer’s requirements, then configuring the quote and showing it as an estimate to the customer or listing the available options, is one thing. Configuring the quote together is quite another – very different indeed. In this way, the potential customer can look at all the options available in the system, in a totally and utterly transparent way, and above all interact in the development of what will be, to all intents and purposes, a tailored estimate. In so doing, both parties play their part in the success of the operation and create a bond that could not only easily lead to closing the sale, but also provide lots of business opportunities in the future.