Sales success is an essential part of the company’s success. Interventions should therefore be carried out wisely. For the start, it is advisable to introduce clear changes in specific sales phases. This slowly leads the own employees to new topics and arouses curiosity about the possibilities.
Digitization is always a change project too. New entrants are optimally relatively easy and show quick successes. At best, you start with the digital support of specific sales phases. There’s plenty of room for improvement: at the end of 2018, the “Digital Sales Monitor” showed that 66 percent of companies do not have a digital sales strategy, and Hartmut Biesel discovered in 2018 that only 16 percent of buyers rated their suppliers as “very good”.
Insufficient customer knowledge
This is where a classic problem comes along long before digitization: many companies do not know the requirements of their customers well enough – but they do not know why they are not sufficiently reconsidering their access to these topics. Often these topics are not dealt with often enough or not at regular intervals.
Wrong: Many customers have become more demanding. Larger market structures and increased competition make the change of supplier on the customer side easier than ever before. If you want to score points, you have to make a better offer than the competition. Although the transformation in sales offers countless starting points, which should ultimately lead to innovative digital business models, it therefore makes sense for the beginning to work on customer knowledge.
Customer analysis with digital support
The classic customer analysis does not become obsolete. The respective revenues per customer, the response rates etc. continue to play a role, as well as qualitative interviews and the like. All existing information about one’s own customers – for example from sales, marketing or the service area – should therefore initially be stored centrally. The focus is clearly on the customer, not on the products, as is still frequently done. In addition, modern technologies allow the consideration of much more individualized data. These require significantly finer findings, such as the behavior of individual customers, as future needs emerge early, etc.
There are two newly added sources that can be used for this purpose: on the one hand, information that the target company discloses on its own. It was never as many as it is today, because obviously many client companies are working on their own visibility. On websites, in social media, articles in journals, the presence in discussion or service forums, specialist platforms, etc., not only companies, but also often their employees on various topics express themselves. Responsibilities that used to be difficult to ask over the phone were much easier today on platforms like Xing.
But also other data sources can now be scoured with much less effort than before, such as annual reports in the Federal Gazette, the database of the Patent Office etc. Even here, a smorgasbord of smaller and larger findings accrue, which always also conclusions on development projects, investments and the like allow. The range of software supporting this, which informs about new building projects, etc. at an early stage, is also getting more and more extensive. So there are z. For example, even web platforms that provide a clear overview of all this information and even integrate with specific CRM systems.
More on the subject: Why traditional companies need marketing change
Internal generation of information
The second source is the one you create yourself as a vendor if you can hold appropriate interfaces. So an own website, an online shop, etc. Here is the rule: Who can provide a good digital information and service offer, which helps not only directly through better visibility and customer loyalty, but also by producing data that allow individual insights. These websites should always be aimed at the customers. Even today, many companies there prioritize self-presentation instead of focusing on concrete challenges of their target customers. Here you always have to keep an eye on what is useful to the customers. Self-congratulation is usually not, target group oriented information offers and flexible ways to contact already.
Speaking of target group-appropriate: With the on-line information offer one should count on a good mixture, which addresses as many decision makers as possible. The employee, who is to acquire a new device for his area, will be interested in easy operation, the local managing director may be more interested in numbers and concrete savings potential. Who knows who is involved in making decisions at the customer company, has a clear advantage. Here helps z. For example, a clearly defined content marketing strategy based on defined target group-specific customer personas.
Priority customer analysis
Customer analysis should be at the top of every digitization agenda, providing the starting point for any further development plans – including a powerful value proposition that really matters. Incidentally, it should be considered to what extent sales can itself contribute to this supply of value. At a time when products are becoming increasingly interchangeable, it is often the core products that make the difference. One can see from many currently successful B2B companies that sales can make a decisive contribution, for example at Klöckner & Co, Würth, Hilti, Claas or SAP. It can be assumed that their offers started with a well-thought-out customer analysis.
This is also the so important differentiation beneficial. Market leaders can be those who either have the cheapest offer – which is often difficult to achieve and may have only a short existence – or the best deal. The best Offer is this most appropriate Offer. Performance leaders know what criteria are important to their customers – and the best way to know that is often in sales, because a large part of the customer contact takes place there exactly.
A well-positioned sales area is therefore one of the most promising innovation drivers. With its support and proven methods such as outcome-driven innovation, you can create perfectly coordinated and attractive value propositions that are clearly perceptible to the targeted customer and offer real added value. More and more frequently, these are supplementary services and services. Anyone who knows how to know their customers better than the competition can still achieve a lasting advantage today.
Siegfried Lettmann is executive interim manager with a focus on TRANSFORMATION IN SALES, business development and change situations.
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