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  • Nikolaus Bremerich


Digitalisation is well on its way to permeating every area of business. Therefore, it is time to think about the B2B sales of the future and the virtualisation of one of the core tasks of B2B sales: the sales conversation. The white paper "The time is ripe for the digital colleague in sales" presents a 3-step strategy with the help of which every company can successively build up virtual colleagues.

The potential that can be realised with this change is immense, as the new virtual colleagues take over routine work from the sales staff. They are available to customers around the clock and can draw on an enormous wealth of information.

Freed from these tasks, the valuable salespeople can concentrate on the most important customers and conversations (e.g. developing key accounts and initiating larger orders). Among other things, the following questions need to be answered:

  • What role do CRM systems play in the virtualisation of sales calls?

  • How can virtual customer care be combined with content marketing?

  • Is a key account managed virtually in the same way as a small customer?

  • Which decisions in the customer life cycle can be specifically triggered by a virtual salesperson?

  • What are the success factors of virtual salespeople?

Status Quo: Digitalisation in Sales

In many areas of daily life, one encounters virtual partners of varying complexity. Some are very simple constructs that only respond to yes/no answers. On the other hand, more advanced solutions can be found in modern cars, intelligent loudspeakers and in smartphones or the operating systems. In some cases, the performance is impressive. Even if it will still take some time until digital interlocutors understand a complex conversation - for routine tasks, the time has really come to open the door to sales departments to virtual colleagues. Yet there are still some resentments that need to be overcome.

B2B sales of the future

A large proportion of sales experts still regard sales talks as a sacred endeavour in some ways. Most salespeople prefer to keep to themselves the way they acquire customers, look after them and convince them in sales talks. At the same time, transparency in sales is still not the order of the day in very many companies. Many employees in these departments think that they make themselves superfluous if they precisely document their every step and their procedures.

Without this data collection, however, digitisation in sales is doomed to failure, because virtual salespeople live on data files. Ideally, these should be comprehensive, accurate and up-to-date.

In the past, many implementations of CRM systems have stumbled over the unwillingness of sales consultants to document their own work precisely. Too often, managers buckled under the argument "should we enter data or sell?" and thus sat on an investment ruin. The manufacturers' promises to automate many sales tasks vanished into thin air and the processes too often remained untouched.

At the same time, the automation of sales processes, especially routine sales calls and support tasks, offers considerable potential for the salesperson and consequently for the company:

  • Sales is suddenly available 24 hours a day, because virtual colleagues in sales do not know 9-to-5 working hours. Customers can make simple enquiries to the sales department at any time and - as research in the USA has shown - chatbots can process a large part of them completely without human assistance.

  • By being relieved of routine tasks, every sales employee has more time to concentrate on interesting customers and can generate significantly more sales and thus also profit for their company.

  • Even small customers can be handled sensibly and purposefully at once through a clever combination of content marketing and sales support. In this way, the virtual colleagues create additional added value for the addressees and actively contribute to customer loyalty in the process.

The challenges of digitalisation in sales

The potential is there and the technology is also in the starting blocks. So why aren't digital salespersons already being used across the board?

There are essentially 3 reasons for this:

  • As banal as it sounds, only a few scientists have so far dealt with sales talks in a practice-oriented and pragmatic, but at the same time scientifically sound way. There are some, partly abstract, studies on interactions between salespeople and customers, on the personality of salespeople and their motivation. Reference models for modelling success factors in sales talks are almost non-existent.

  • In practice, too, there are very few professional approaches to training salespeople. One important reason has already been mentioned: the aversion of many salespeople to the transparency of sales processes and the documentation of daily business. This also includes the secrecy of one's own tricks of the trade, as there is partly the fear of making oneself superfluous in the course of those changes.

  • Due to the lack of a reference model on sales conversations, it is very difficult to create a reasonable, efficient model for this specific conversation situation. The simplest approach would be to guide the interlocutor through a long sequence of simple choices. But this would annoy the customer side.

How can these challenges be overcome? Use our experience to discover new possibilities of digitalisation in B2B sales of the future by contacting us here.

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