The current restrictions on real-world human contact have led to an increase in the number of
demands regarding the subject of digitalization of sales, distribution processes and tools. Many
companies are becoming aware that they need to be more active here.
Digitalization of sales, distribution and customer service
Emotional intelligence meets artificial intelligence
Digitalization of sales and distribution doesn’t just mean drawing on big data or implementing an e-commerce system with a chat function. Rather, it means implementing the right tools to create a hybrid bond between emotional and artificial intelligence throughout the entire process. This should still always be oriented towards the common thread of the main brand values in terms of content.
Understanding the customer
Here, it is really helpful to draft (proto) personas together with your sales and distribution and customer service teams, applying design thinking techniques such as empathy mapping. This makes target groups and their use cases easier to grasp.
One tool for the entire process?
There is no one sole, omnipotent tool, of course. When we digitalize a process, we always look at the entire customer journey in order to work out exactly where and in which steps the appropriate digital measures can be linked in and implemented. Here, sales and distribution are summed up by: Tools to reach the target group, measurability, customer acquisition and, finally, service.
The user’s measuring stick for you is Tesla and companies like it.
Every digital touchstone contributes, little by little, to conversion, even in the B2B sector. This is because people are behind it, of course. Users who are demanding in terms of their digital diet, whose expectations are shaped by using apps and websites every day in their private lives, particularly in target groups with purchasing power.
Exemplary tools for your operations
The world is chatting – are you part of the conversation?
This era is characterized by impatience, and the majority of the users expect to be able to get
answers to their queries immediately. A chat system (e.g. Intercom) is very helpful here, as
the customer then feels that they are getting good service. However, the chat shouldn’t be too intrusive and suddenly keep popping up everywhere. Instead, it should be offered as a
contact option in specific (sensible!) positions. An online chat is a very low-threshold tool,
therefore it is recommended that you only offer it as a channel for a specific need. Otherwise,
you run the risk of investing a good part of the day in answering questions. The whole hybrid
process behind it also needs to be well-structured: Who will react? And when? Above all, how do
they react? When are preset answer schemata used and when are personal reactions used?
User-centered product consultants and configurators
Many product websites show comprehensive displays of their products with filter functions.
However, these are still often structured to throw everything at the customer in the hope that
something sticks, and are developed from an internal perspective. Product consultants that
show the range in a user-centered manner and seek out the right product or mix of products for
a customer based on their needs provide a better experience and moreover elicit far higher
conversion rates. For more complex combinations (such as our e-commerce software
configurator from Scansor) with multidimensional dependencies, it often comes down to
assuring a personalized smart shopping experience using the relevant business logic.
Digital assistance via online appointment booking
In an environment where products are more complex and require more explanation, an online
booking system for consultation appointments (e.g. Shore) proves a popular tool alongside a
configurator. It offers an efficient and service-oriented opportunity for managing appointments
round the clock without involving huge communication efforts while producing robust statistics
– both on your own website and on social media channels.
Certification through an online academy
An online training center does more than show functions of products that need explanation –
product and brand values are also clearly portrayed to your employees and distributors, and
thus to the end customer. Online academies (e.g. Corp Academy) are being used more and more
frequently for onboarding or advanced training sessions. A centrally controlled communication
plan, certificates and additional statistics make this type of training a promising tool for
marketing, sales, distribution and product management.
Storytelling via interactive online sales presentations
A sales presentation that is boosted by storytelling enables the customer to form an emotional
bond and makes independent information readily available while also offering tracking options.
Interactive sales presentations can thus constitute an educational guide for discussion. This
guide is agile, presenting the right option dependent on the target group and use case. For
example, the service provider Prezi offers interesting options for linking the speaker and
storytelling content together in video presentations.
Customers, or fans?
Today, our objective is not to draw in physical customers but instead to acquire long-term
digital fans. A good, personalized customer service app accompanies the sales process. After
each purchase, a partnership connection is formed, which massively expands the customer’s
Customer service appears to be available 24/7, which also contributes to this sense of a
partnership. Seamless communication functions without having to change channels and
customer-specific push information in the form of messages, offers, coupons or snackable
content also play a role here. The customer doesn’t have to search for contacts, doesn’t have to
make any calls and isn’t stuck waiting in queues. They will never meet a dead end. You are thus
giving the customer the greatest gift they can receive in these times: You’re giving the customer back their time! In addition, as the customer installs the app on their end device, you get access
to detailed information on them.
It is also possible to integrate self-service approaches, which prevent unnecessary inquiries.
Customer feedback and surveys are just as simple and can be integrated permanently. They
enable feedback and error reports on the product to be recorded centrally in real-time, so that
you can react accordingly.
Is data the new gold?
Thanks to ERP and CRM systems and social media use, the amount of available data in B2B sales
has exploded. Apparently, around 90% of all global data have only been generated in the past
two years! It’s no wonder that big data, data-driven design and predictive analytics are no longer
a foreign concept for many small and medium-sized companies in the B2B and B2C sector.
However, this all requires a corresponding CRM data foundation and data linking between
marketing, sales and distribution and customer service. These data can then used to guide
business activity, to provide personalized content and ads on the website and for e-mail
marketing automation. Many of you will surely be well aware of the two tools HubSpot and
Pipedrive for these fields of application.
It’s not as easy as it seems to spin data into gold, even if we have a seemingly infinite number of
tools at our disposal for classification, evaluation and processing.
Simply collecting and analyzing data is one thing, and creating added value from this for the
customer is another entirely. Customers only become true fans, and data only turns into gold,
once this added value manifests in a process that is tailored to the individual. This can be
brought about by the harmonization and implementation of a variety of software tools and by