How to Add Value to Every Sales Conversation

By
Mandy Movahhed
December 2, 2015

Although commerce in general is moving online, the in-person sales experience continues to remain a critical component of a B2B company’s sales efforts. While there’s a fair amount of hype surrounding a recent Forrester report titled, “Death of a B2B Salesman” (which predicted that a million B2B reps will lose their jobs by 2020 due to the advent of B2B eCommerce), the report also pointed out that reps who add value and act as a strategic partner to their customers would become more important over time. Let’s dig into what it means to add value and why it matters.

B2B Sales Is About People

First of all, sales––especially B2B sales––is all about people. Business success depends upon the strength of customer relationships, which are built over shared successes, season to season and product line to product line. The Forrester report mentions that 93% of B2B buyers prefer buying online when they’ve already decided what to buy, but most of the largest purchases in B2B are the ones where the buyer has not yet decided, and no surprise––that’s where a great salesperson is critical. We all know the old adage “people buy from people”, but it’s important to remember. As we all know from time spent at trade shows and on the road, it’s tough for a digital experience to compete with the emotional element and persuasive power of the in-person conversation.

Technology Can Support In-Person Interactions

As always, there is a lot of fear around the idea that technology replaces humans, and it’s been this way with every technological revolution in history. The alternate point of view, of course, is that technology enhances human abilities. We all know that some of the work your team does in selling to your customers is tedious and repetitive. Scribbling orders on paper and doing data-entry are boring and machine-like. How many people get into sales because they wanted to do data entry? Instead of being afraid of how technology might change the industry, we should use it to empower our people––especially on the front lines––to add more value.

Adding Value to Each Sales Conversation with Mobile Order Writing Software

Mobile Order Writing software is one such solution, and it’s pretty straightforward. Wholesalers, distributors, and manufacturers are able to load up their entire catalog on an iPad or iPhone and write orders with their customers right on the device. Mobile order writing is most commonly used in the field, during the in-person sales conversation at a road appointment or at a show. Let’s think about one of these appointments from the customer’s point of view. What do they want to get out of it? Ultimately, they want to get the best possible product assortment for their store, and they want to be educated on how to best sell that product to the consumer. They also want the process to be quick and easy, so they can concentrate on running their stores. Let’s see how a mobile order writing app can help your reps deliver on this and add value.

1. Creating a Personalized Experience

Writing an order on mobile is highly personalized. Reps that prepare for customer appointments by reviewing the customer’s order history and favorite items come into appointments ready to write a strategic order, focused on tailored suggestions and upsells based on a solid understanding of the customer’s account. Since mobile order writing software requires the uploading of your customer list with account-specific details before you go to the sales appointment, each time your rep opens up the app to sell to a customer, they are selling the right products at the right prices under the right terms. Reps have to manage a lot of accounts and remembering every detail about every customer is more or less impossible. Having software that allows them to personalize the meeting for the customer not only feels good, but also helps the meeting be more effective.

2. Providing Detailed Product Visuals

To the post-Instagram generation, the idea of seeing photos on a mobile device might seem pretty basic, but many reps are unable to provide this to their customers because of the sheer size of their catalogs or the limits on the number of samples they can carry around. A digital catalog is much faster to navigate through. Your customer can get exposed to much more of your product line, and have the ability to discover complementary products along the way. With a digital catalog, products are represented with multiple angles of high quality images. Customers can zoom in and really get a feel for exactly what they’re buying in a way that paper is unable to convey. Order confirmations can then be sent to the customer, including product images, so that they can see exactly what they ordered.

3. Real-Time Information Access

We’ve already talked about how sales rep preparation before an appointment can make a big difference for your customer, but now let’s focus on access to information duringthe appointment. Real-time access to order history means that your customer doesn’t have to remember what they ordered last, and your rep becomes a valued source of account-related intelligence. Also, many reps using mobile order writing software do a quick duplication of an old order, adding items when necessary, which really speeds up the order writing process. Next up, the “Favorite Items” report in your mobile order writing software should flag the items that your customer orders most often. If your rep is mid-appointment, a quick look at this report will help him or her suggest other tailored product recommendations backed by data that your rep and customer can see together. Finally, inventory levels. Many brands choose to expose inventory levels on each of their products so that sales reps are informed with what’s available to sell, what’s running low, and what’s out of stock. This is invaluable in the order writing process as gives your customers full transparency into what’s available to buy and reduces the risk of backorders.

4. Time Savings

Probably what will be one of the biggest perceived points of value by your customers––writing orders on mobile will save them time. Retailers are often trying to minimize the time they spend with suppliers, because they are trying to maximize the time they are selling to their own customers. Mobile order writing software can help cut appointment times significantly. First, scrolling through a digital catalog is much faster than flipping through a paper catalog, or fumbling through your bag to find physical samples. Likewise, tapping items or scanning barcodes to add them to your cart is much quicker than physically writing each SKU on paper.

5. Strategic Insight

With the time saved in each sales appointment, sales reps are able to provide more strategic insight to their customers. For instance, reps can share insights based on aggregate data. Imagine a rep is able to walk into the appointment and tell her customer that she is seeing their camo backpacks performing extraordinarily well in the region, or that there has been a decline in interest in a particular style of flashlight and that it might make sense to switch to a different model. This is data that comes from mobile order writing software reporting that your reps should be consulting before an appointment. Reps can also use saved time to provide additional value-added services to their customers, like merchandising support or product training. So what does all of this mean? At the end of the day, providing your customers with a more engaging, interactive and informed conversation is a better customer experience. From saving them time, to providing more transparency, to showing your products in their best light, this is the experience your customers want to have with your brand.