In the span of just a few months, business as usual has dramatically changed and may never look the same again. The coronavirus has single-handedly reshaped how business is done not only for B2C companies but B2B companies as well.
In fact, the way we buy, sell, and engage with customers has shifted suddenly – and there is no going back.
Because of coronavirus, buying preferences are changing, and the speed at which these changes are taking place is accelerating rather than slowing down. Out of necessity B2B companies went online and buyers fully took control of the process.
As a result, this is the moment when the role of B2B salespeople fundamentally changed because selling is no longer predicated on in-person meetings, golf games, lunch or other pre-COVID activities.
Today, the job of a sales rep is to engage with customers digitally, taking on a virtual sales role – and that requires the right tools to be successful.
The world of sales may have been upended, but this upheaval has also created a powerful opportunity to optimize the entire business – systems, processes, and people, particularly sales teams.
Winning business and earning customer loyalty means salespeople must learn to listen fully to their customers and their markets. This means gathering and understanding data, sometimes massive quantities, and extracting from it meaningful, actionable insight.
Next, they must learn to use that insight to drive highly personalized, focused product offerings to meet their customers’ specific needs. And they must engage with those customers where, when, and how the customer wants. In short, buyers are in the driver’s seat.
Beyond equipping their teams, businesses need to ensure the steps taken today are in line with building a foundation for long-term success – delivering full digital selling capabilities as part of an eCommerce strategy. PROS helps businesses transform the selling process to be ready for the world of digital commerce by accelerating sales cycles and delivering valuable product and pricing insights.
solutions are based on machine learning (ML) and proven artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms that support the insights that a B2B seller needs to go forward and drive the right offer for buyers. It's based on fully understanding the customer and having the right data that informs that offer.
We help sales reps find the opportunity by using AI. PROS solutions can look at past transaction history, gaps in how companies have ordered, product mix and how it's changed, and then make recommendations based on that intelligence.
ML and AI must be core to the way businesses move to digital selling due to the amount of data being introduced. This includes intent data, data on previous transactions with that customer or customers like them, data on market conditions that affect the buyer, data on competitors, data on supply chain implications, and more.
Ultimately, all this collected data helps determine who that actual buyer is, how to anticipate their needs and wants, and how to create and position the right offer tailored to them.
In this new era, businesses must drive accelerated adoption of digital selling as the primary method of meeting their customers’ needs, and they need to do so far more rapidly and fully than any of us expected.
ML- and AI-based solutions can help, and companies that have already started down this path with integrating a digital selling motion are finding themselves in a much better position than others who hadn't started to embrace it yet.
Like it or not, there is no alternative. Failing to do anything at all will leave businesses flying blind during one of the most disruptive shifts in decades.
And for those that do adopt a more agile, informed, and engaged selling model, they have the opportunity to distinguish themselves and emerge from the pandemic even stronger.
For more information on selling in the digital age, listen to PROS Vice President of Product and Solution Marketing, Geoff Webb, on Future of Business
with Kevin Benedict.
By Sarah Hoffman
Keywords: AI, Customer Experience, Sales