B2B Manufacturing: Fueled By Omnichannel

Dietmar Bohn

The future of sales in the industrial B2B manufacturing industries is driven by simplification, and the digitalization of the sales process is an imperative to compete in the digital age. For many B2B organizations, this means a reboot of how they are doing business and how they plan for the future, and omnichannel must be included in both of these considerations.

From sales-rep-centric to web channel-centric

B2B sales in industrial manufacturing is significantly changing—from a traditional sales cycle, which is based on time-consuming sales rep interactions, to a streamlined, convenient sales process with a consumer-grade customer experience and global reach.

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In this approach, web channels play a major role and cover certain process steps with a true omnichannel customer experience. They are emerging as one-stop-shops—providing information and self-services to simplify the buying of original equipment, spare parts, services, and solution bundles.

This change is driven by the customers of industrial machinery and component (IM&C) companies as well as  manufacturing companies themselves, to drive profitable growth, enter new markets, and attract new prospects, with “65% of B2B customers saying their B2B experience does not match their consumer experiences on Amazon.com and similar sites.” 

IM&C industry: Pay attention, your customers are talking

Per multiple surveys, customers of IM&C companies are not happy with their buying experience. Procurement managers and others expect that doing business with their vendors should be easier and require fewer time-consuming meetings with sales reps, but they still want to easily acquire all of the valuable information about the company, as well as the products and services it offers in a convenient way through web channels—with all of the associated comforts of a state-of-the-art B2C buying experience. This is expected to be the new norm for B2B sales in industrial manufacturing.

Especially during the sales of complex products, the interaction with sales reps will continue to be highly important, but certain process steps can be more easily covered through a web channel solution. For productive and professional customer engagements, sales and marketing professionals need a deep understanding of their customers and their customers’ buying journey.

Increased revenue selling spare parts and equipment

Companies that have already extended their web channel solution to cover both spare parts as well as equipment sales, and that provide a consumer-grade buying experience to their customers and partners, could achieve excellent results, such as:

  • Increased customer satisfaction through an easier buying process and more accurate deliveries

  • Increased revenue through a better global reach for both spare parts and original equipment

  • Improved efficiency and reduced costs through a fully automated quote-to-order process

Consider the bigger picture

For a truly successful B2B sales approach, manufacturing companies need to consider the bigger picture:

  • Consider the entire product portfolio, including spare parts, for the web channel solution

  • Provide all valuable information and self-services on the web channel

  • Build it as a one-stop-shop for a convenient buying experience

  • Consider all relevant customer installed base information and provide nice 3D visualizations and explosion views for an easy buying experience for both original equipment and spare parts

  • Consider an omnichannel customer experience, with a harmonized configuration, price, and quote quotation process across all customer interaction channels

  • Complement the omnichannel B2B sales solution with a marketing solution for a consumer-grade buying experience with smart recommendations and contextual, relevant customer engagement by identifying buying signals from customers and new prospects

The detection of buying signals and a contextual marketing approach to identify new prospects is getting significantly more important in industrial manufacturing.

Successful B2B digital sales require an integrated omnichannel B2B sales solution

Achieving a consumer-grade customer experience for B2B sales requires that IM&C companies provide access to all valuable information and self-services through their web channel and enable convenient buying of spare and emergency parts; configurable products and equipment; software and services; as well as product bundles through a one-stop-shop solution—covering the entire product portfolio.

All customers should be able to conveniently access the web channel whenever they’d like to get all the information they need in an easy-to-understand way through 3D visualizations and exploded views. Customers should also be able to initiate an interaction with a sales rep when they want a more in-depth discussion.

Sales professionals can get a deeper understanding of the customer through their buying journey and can prepare a very professional customer interaction. After physical meeting(s), the customer can finalize the buying journey and close the transaction through the web channel solution. For a true omnichannel experience, customers and sales professionals have access to all valuable information, as well as a harmonized configuration, price, and quotation process.

To cover certain process steps through digital channels, the digitalization of the sales process is required.

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Differentiating customer experience with a global reach could not be achieved with siloed solutions across the different customer interaction channels (a typical multichannel approach). The experience requires an integrated omnichannel B2B sales solution for digital businesses, spanning the web channel solution, the sales reps’ sales force automation solution, the call center solution, and a seamless embedded marketing solution.

All industrial companies that plan to move to a true omnichannel sales approach using web channels as a one-stop-shop playing a major role in the B2B sales process need to consider that configuration, price, and quote capabilities will get much more important for front line sales reps in the future.

Help with omnichannel is a click away

SAP provides an integrated omnichannel B2B sales solution, the foundation for a one-stop-shop customer or partner portal, covering the needs of products, services, and aftermarket parts—helping industrial manufacturing companies to:

  • provide an omnichannel buying experience to their customers

  • increase product and solution revenue through a global reach

  • increase aftermarket service and parts business

  • identify buying signals and enable event-driven, contextual marketing

  • simplify the solutions architecture and provide a high automation of end-to-end processes

Ready to rev up your B2B omnichannel? Learn from the best and the brightest at SAP Hybris LIVE: Global Summit!

This post originally appeared on the SAP Community, and was republished with permission.


Dietmar Bohn

About Dietmar Bohn

Dietmar Bohn is the Vice President of Industry Cloud at SAP. He brings more than 15 years of CRM experience from both outside and inside SAP and more than 25 years of industry experience. Bohn has held different executive roles spanning CRM strategy projects, CRM implementation projects, CRM development and CRM product management. He holds degrees in Electrical Engineering and in Telecommunications.