Overcome these 5 B2B selling pain points with digital

The B2B sales landscape is changing and to keep up, businesses must be smart in the way they engage with buyers. Digitalizing your B2B selling processes creates opportunities to develop stronger customer relationships and stay one step ahead of the competition.

From our work with global apparel and footwear brands over the past 14 years, we’ve identified the 5 most common pain points in B2B selling that lead to loss of sales and disengaged customers. Below we discuss each of them and evaluate how digital can be used to overcome these challenges.

aWorkbook digital resource library

1. Lack of accurate and complete product information

Accurate and complete product information is a vital component in the B2B selling process. How can buyers be expected to make an informed decision about the products you are selling without it? Technical product info, pictures and descriptions are all important elements in B2B selling and should be used to full effect during the sales process.

Where we see this problem occurring most often is amongst reps using printed catalogues. Printed catalogues become outdated quickly and cannot be updated easily or cheaply. There are also limits to the number of products and product variations you can include in print. The result is usually an expensive catalogue containing a basic product range, small images and minimal product descriptions. This leads to a poor buying experience, buyer frustration, loss of confidence and the potential loss of a sale.

Our research found that 70% of sales teams acknowledge that the lack of effective content negatively impacts on the outcome of a sales conversation.

To overcome this, many businesses have adopted digital catalogue solutions. These solutions allow reps to carry the full product range complete with hi-res images and full product descriptions on a tablet or laptop. Oliver Coxhead, Key Account Manager for UK distributor 2Pure, found that using the aWorkbook digital catalogue enabled him and his sales team colleagues to offer customers a much better experience.

“As it can be updated remotely, it ensures the Sales Team is armed with the latest information when meeting customers. In addition, this information can be easily manipulated, adjusted and shared with our customer base.”

Conducting your B2B selling with a digital catalogue is a big step towards creating a digital showroom. Tommy Hilfiger and Hugo Boss have been using digital showrooms to successfully showcase their new ranges for the past few seasons.

2. Restricted access to data held in different systems

Many businesses experience restricted data flow, not just those in the clothing and sports markets where we operate. Legacy systems and longstanding processes cause delays in accessing and updating important information. This leads to the loss of sales that depend on speed of response.

Consider this, 88% of sales reps believe opportunities have been missed because they can’t leverage all the data that’s available to them.

One solution to restricted data flow is a Go to Market (GTM) platform. GTM platforms allow the quick and efficient distribution of data to different stakeholders and digital systems. These could be digital sales tools, PLM systems or e-commerce platforms.

To accelerate and streamline the organisation of information, and to sell across multiple channels, cloud based GTM platforms, like aHub, are being used to great effect. Providing customers with a consistent and seamless omni-channel experience is vital and should be a top priority for the marketing team.

The successful implementation of any new system relies on understanding your existing IT infrastructure and digital ecosystem. It will help you choose the right solution for your B2B selling based on your business needs and highlight any potential issues.

3. Lengthy order capture and placement process

A recent survey of manufacturers and distributors revealed order writing inefficiencies as their number one challenge. It’s fair to say that many brands and distributors experience this problem too. It’s crucial that reps have the right tools available to capture an order when with a customer.

A traditional approach involves writing paper orders and sending details back to the office. This process is lengthy and can sometimes lack accuracy. Paper orders are also difficult to amend or update when product specs or stock levels change.

Smart businesses have identified this as an area in which they must improve. To move forward, they are embracing digital and experiencing the advantages that come with it. The digitalization of this B2B selling process has resulted in fewer order errors and a smoother order fulfilment process. For reps, these apps enable instant order taking on their tablet or laptop and integration with existing order processing systems.

Mizuno has supported its sales reps for the past 4 years with the sales app aWorkbook. Since using the app, Mizuno has seen record sales growth. Rob Jackson, Head of Golf explains;

“It’s four years since Mizuno Golf launched their digital assortment selection and ordering tool using the aWorkbook platform. I am pleased to say that the accuracy and efficiency this brings to the sales teams and retail buyers has played its part in delivering record first half sales growth across the EMEA golf business in 2017.”

4. Non-tailored pricing and product catalogues

Buyers now demand a highly personalised experience, tailored to their specific needs. They only want to see products that are relevant to their store and pricing to match. Providing this level of personalisation through a non-digital channel is costly. It can also be inefficient and sometimes counterproductive and carries the risk of only being used once or twice.

Moving to a digital sell-in platform offers unlimited flexibility and product segmentation. Product ranges and materials can be tailored to users’ needs ensuring that time spent with customers is maximised. Mark Downie, Senior Brand Manager at 2Pure highlighted this as one of the key advantages of using a B2B sales tool.

“aWorkbook is so much more than a digital version of our catalogue because of the additional functions it has to create a personalised custom assortment for a customer. Our objective of planning retailer ranges more effectively, saving time on paperwork and admin has been more than achieved.”

5. Delivering the right product offer in new countries/territories

Capturing market share in rapidly expanding or emerging markets represents a significant opportunity for many brands. Producing and distributing country specific marketing and sales materials, not so much. The effort that goes into creating highly targeted, country specific ranges can easily be undone with poor product presentations and inconsistent brand messaging.

A digital sales app supports the delivery of relevant customer-centric offers and tailored marketing communications, brand stories and product information. All at a fraction of the cost. New markets are quickly educated, and brand loyalty grows.

Nicolas Chapuis, Sales Operations Director EMEA at Amer Sports, whose omni-channel strategy is one to watch, successfully deployed a digital sales app to support the expansion of the Amer Sports brand offer in many new territories and channels.

“The aWorkbook software and the team at Hark have proved to be flexible and responsive in making sure we get it right for how we sell in the different territories and channels. We are very happy with the way the project is progressing.” 

Moving towards digital sell-in

Off the shelf solutions like aWorkbook are making the implementation of a digital sell-in process easier than ever before. Brands and distributors are increasingly choosing digital sell-in tools as they’re tailored for their business model and keep them ahead of the competition. Consulting widely with different job functions, amongst partners and even competitors will tell you a lot about what’s right for you. Off the shelf apps come in many different varieties and often with overlapping features. It’s best to create a ‘needs checklist’ to make sure you get the best solution for your business.

Want to maximise your B2B selling opportunities?

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