Four ways for industrial companies to accelerate their digital journey

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We have long known that digital selling represents the future of industrial companies. But the speed of growth we’re seeing in this new way of interacting with customers is remarkable. Already accounting for 26% of total B2B sales in the United States, digital commerce is expected to continue to accelerate over the next few years, approaching one-third of all industrial B2B sales in North America by the middle. of this decade.

B2B industrial customers expect a different kind of experience throughout the engagement lifecycle, from researching product information to influencing product engineering to product engineering. purchasing transactions and product maintenance. Standards and expectations are getting higher and higher by digital commerce giants. The ability of manufacturers to meet these expectations will differentiate the leaders from the rest of the peloton.

Expectations are now blurred between the consumer life of the B2B customer and his industrial purchasing life. People know what a “good” shopping experience looks like as a consumer, whether it’s the way products are displayed and recommended, or the ability to complete a streamlined end-to-end transaction. line, and they just don’t forget it when they come to work.

Thus, the challenge for manufacturers is to ensure that a digital transformation of sales meets these higher customer expectations while simultaneously stimulating efficiency and margin gains.

Learn from leaders
Accenture’s new High Voltage Digital Sales report shows how some industrial companies are embarking on this transformation. By examining what drives these leaders, we have identified several capabilities that can provide a model to which all industrial companies can aspire.

First, these leaders have moved away from a reactive, sequential approach and are able to digitally interact with customers throughout the buying journey. Second, they are better able to provide proactive, personalized recommendations to increase sales. Third, they are able to use their data to generate customer-specific predictive information at scale. And fourth, executives will generally have more standardized and automated sales processes than their peers (and, moreover, plan to invest more in this area).

Finally, many executives have also been successful in bridging their organizational silos between sales, marketing and after-sales, and establishing close cooperation across the entire front office. This is, however, an area in which US industrial companies could be lagging behind. Accenture research shows that only 40% of them have achieved a close collaboration between sales and marketing (compared to 45% globally).

Four ways to accelerate a digital sales transformation
So what practical steps can American manufacturers take now to emulate the leaders and take their digital sales to the next level? There are four key areas to focus on.

# 1. Embrace the ecosystem. The biggest barrier to digital transformation of sales uncovered by Accenture research is the lack of internal or external technology implementation capabilities: 91% of respondents in North America cited this (vs. 78% in the world). One solution may be to combine an internal ‘center of excellence’ with an ecosystem of partners who can not only implement the right technology platforms (such as a digital customer lifecycle management solution), but also lead the operational and organizational changes that accompany it.

# 2 Know your customers. Recommendation engines can be a valuable tool for B2B sales, especially for less complex products. In fact, large companies attribute up to 8.5% of all sales to recommendation engines. However, you need the right customer analytics to deliver targeted recommendations at scale. Investments in this area must therefore be prioritized and accelerated.

# 3 Measure your success. It goes without saying that a sales transformation requires a solid business case, which is essential to ensure sufficient budget and leadership confidence. But one aspect that is often overlooked is choosing the right performance metrics. The goal is to have a targeted set of key performance indicators (KPIs) that are easy to measure and can demonstrate what the transformation brings. Visits to the online configurator and online sales margins are good examples. Choosing KPIs that are difficult to measure or have too many to manage is a sure-fire way to lose focus.

# 4 Let employees be advocates. Poorly managed, digital transformation programs can meet resistance from employees accustomed to existing ways of working or fearful of what automation means to their livelihoods. However, when done right, a transformation can engage, excite and inspire the workforce with a focus on customer value. A key way to achieve this is to enlist the employees themselves as advocates, demonstrating the benefits of better collaboration, retraining and the ability to focus on selling higher value products. added.

Fluid digital B2B sales at scale
The above steps should help industrial companies step up their digital sales efforts. Leaders show that it doesn’t have to be a three to five year program, it can be done here and now. By injecting more urgency into a clearly focused transformation, businesses can begin to deliver the seamless end-to-end consumer-level shopping experiences that their customers increasingly expect and demand.

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