For manufacturers and distributors competing in a world of thin margins and agile manufacturing, differentiating on product and price alone is no longer an option. The development of mobile sales solutions –– mobile B2B commerce in particular –– is providing new opportunities to consistently delight customers with excellent service and reliably achieve sales quotas by working more efficiently and building long-term strategic partnerships with buyers.
Customers can cost a fortune to win and are even more expensive to regain if lost. Great customer service is often viewed as resolving negative issues promptly as they arise. A better strategy, however, is to avoid problems before they occur. From the sales reps on the front lines, to back office operations teams, manufacturers and distributors adopting mobile B2B Commerce deliver customer experiences that translate into better customer retention rates and real dollars of revenue.
Better Prepared Sales Reps
Salespeople often operate on pure confidence, but it is tough for them to feel confident when they have to shuffle through paper or access multiple repositories to get the information they need. Mobile sales apps consolidate the critical information that sales reps need, placing it at their fingertips. Removing the burden of memorizing or searching for payment terms, special pricing, and most frequently ordered products allows reps to focus on preparing each meeting and is a key element of setting them up to be successful.
A Modern, Convenient Sales Experience
Salespeople are the face of the companies they represent, with in-person meetings serving as the foundation of all customer relationships. Providing a professional, efficient and pleasant experience during the appointment is a top priority. Imagine arming sales reps with a mobile device where they can walk a customer through a digital product catalog, zoom in on HD product images and write an order as they go. Reps can then email an order confirmation that includes product thumbnails before even leaving the store. By streamlining the order writing process, not only can sales reps see more accounts while spending more time selling and building relationships, but also customers will feel great about doing business with you.
Replace Transactional Activity with Strategic Insights
B2B sales is complicated. Sales reps must understand and quickly recall the nuances of the customer’s business, the nature of their specific pricing or payment terms, and the product preferences of a particular buyer. Historically, it’s been nearly impossible to provide real insights from customer-specific data inside the sales conversation because there’s just too much of it. Today, mobile has allowed sales reps to take notes on every customer conversation, so they have a record of customers’ priorities, what products to cover, and issues to resolve. They walk into every conversation with the data, reports, and insights that transforms them from an order-taker to a strategic partner. They can offer a buyer data-driven product recommendations relevant to them, or share industry insights that they could benefit from. With the ability to focus on the needs of the customer, sales reps help manufacturers and distributors build loyalty that leads to growth in the business.
Fulfill and Ship Orders Faster
One of the biggest benefits to using mobile technology to write orders is the ability to immediately sync orders from the field to the back office. Customer service and operations teams can then view, modify and confirm the order, starting the fulfillment process straight away. In addition, inventory information can be supplied through the mobile app to sales reps, so they can sell more of what’s available and reduce backorders. Manufacturers and distributors who provide faster fulfillment stand out amongst a sea of competitors whose sales reps are manually sending orders back to the office and delaying shipments for a couple of weeks. Every day that can be shaved off shipping time is another day that shelf isn’t empty in the customer’s store or factory.
Give Customers a Self-Service Option
Customers are increasingly expecting the convenience and 24/7 availability of eCommerce both online and through native mobile apps. They’ve been trained to expect this as consumers. While the face-to-face sales relationship is still a crucial part of the sales process, giving buyers the ability to do product research, manage their accounts, and place orders on their own time is a huge plus, freeing them to engage with manufacturers and distributors anywhere, anytime.
For example, a retailer’s staff can place orders on the store floor while looking at the product on shelf. They can check the HD image in the digital catalog to confirm that the right product is being ordered and then immediately submit the order to the vendor. Manufacturers and distributors that adopt mobile B2B commerce solutions to proactively respond to changing buyer expectations are positioning themselves as preferred vendors in the future.
A customer’s emotional response to a vendor is driven by their perception of how well they are being serviced. By improving customer service in a holistic way, manufacturers and distributors can remain on top even if competitors drop prices or copy their latest hot product. Ultimately, businesses will see increased customer retention, with their sales reps able to win even more business down the road.
Michael Elmgreen is Chief Revenue Officer at Handshake.