Is your B2B Sales Experience Frictionless? (hint: It should be)
By Howard Moore, CEO of ArganoKeste
This article was originally published on Argano.com.
It’s a difficult time for B2B companies. Customers expect to be able to buy exactly what they want, and with complete control. They need to see complex custom products in real-time, with absolute accuracy and transparency. They expect Amazon-level ease for every transaction – even when it’s a seven-figure order.
With the pandemic-fueled shift to digital everything, those expectations are increasing. People want magical moments and they want them from companies that are easy to do business with. That’s putting unrelenting pressure on B2B organizations. Over and over, I have clients ask me how they can keep up: “How can we get the order right when every order is different? And how can we make money doing so?”
The Digital Renaissance is here, and the B2B businesses that will succeed realize that it is the customer experience of their sales process – sometimes even more than the products they sell – that is most important. These businesses are enriching their operations and offerings with cloud-based solutions that improve customer experience.
Yet the more complex the product or service is, the more challenging it becomes to create a frictionless experience, especially as the world continues this shift from mass production to mass personalization.
But every day, ArganoKeste helps companies create these moments that matter with intelligent, integrated and agile technologies. These next-generation business and technology services – cloud-based and frictionless – are powering the Digital Renaissance. We help businesses transform their operations through unique, integrated capabilities in the technologies that underpin a modern foundation.
The foundation of the future
The imperative for digital transformation, which we’ve now been discussing for decades, isn’t exactly behind us. But it has evolved, with important new tools. Companies now need to achieve digital mastery, and that’s not easy.
Because direct-sales teams are so limiting, many of these companies already have platforms for their third-party sellers, which include distributors, resellers and channel partners. But they are very competitive. And if platforms are clunky and outdated, without the proper tools and resources required to help them sell efficiently, they create moments of frustration – not moments that matter. You’ll lose those customers, and with it, your ability to grow.
Often, automated solutions are still entangled in slow, manual processes leftover from legacy systems. These disjointed systems limit your product offerings, slow the sales cycle and put a cap on scale. And as B2B companies continue the trend of offering layers of services and solutions along with their products, such as fleet management and predictive software, they find their automation makes it harder to buy from them, not easier.
Providing accurate price quotes – one of the worst complaints from sales teams and third-party resellers – continues to be slow and tedious. And the lack of reporting and dashboards prevents salespeople from knowing the quality of their leads.
The solution? Cutting-edge digital business experiences for your partners – where you can give them access to many resources, including tools to manage leads, configure prices, customize products, offer sales information and facilitate training. They take the traditional partner portal to the next level.
These modern digital business experiences provide the ability to customize orders with various product bundling and subscription offerings to meet any customer need. It’s almost impossible to overstate how powerful these tools are and the impact of increased accuracy and reduced frustration. With the right Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) tools, customers can solve their pricing problems, quickly configuring and comparing countless options with pricing information they know is accurate.
But advanced cloud-based solutions do more than provide order and pricing accuracy. They offer visualization tools that let customers see better and more complete possibilities.
One of our clients, for example, makes high-end furniture and initially offered little in the way of customization. Now fully automated, its customers – third-party designers and retailers – can configure thousands of possibilities in shape, fabric and style.
Offering rich visualization, customers don’t just see what they’re ordering. They see ways to improve it. What would the item look like with a scrolled armrest or in tufted green velvet? What’s the cost difference between a five-foot settee with claw feet versus a six-foot chaise with straight legs? They’re not just buying – they’re creating. They move beyond ordering a piece that is simply correct in terms of price and delivery date. They can envision the item that is right for their customers. And because they are shopping with a new level of confidence, order size often increases, boosting revenue. This is the true expression of digital commerce: It’s not just software that lets people buy stuff online. It’s an entirely elevated way of building a business.
Pricing is instant and accurate. And best of all, it gives customers a way to track every aspect of the sale, with no humans involved.
That’s where digital humanity enters the relationship. Automation has taken all the friction out of the transactions. Customers don’t have to ask sales reps to chase down factory updates, shipping times or recalculate using a different fabric. It’s available in real-time, with a keystroke.
That frees sales reps for higher-level thinking, paving the way for fast new product and service introductions, including subscription models that offer customers more flexibility.
When CPQ and visualizations function as they should, B2B companies can focus on better ways to help their customers. They can work on introducing new products and services faster than their competitors. And with access to real-time dashboards, they can focus on the most promising opportunities, which leads to more sales.
Relying on these digital business experiences, rich in cloud-based solutions to help all aspects of B2B sales, companies can strive for their next breakthrough. They can offer products, and increasingly, solutions that expand their value in the marketplace.
Because companies know sales transactions are happening smoothly and with greater accuracy, they are free to find new ways to expand their value in the marketplace. That differentiates them from their competitors and typically leads to happier customers, increased revenue and enhanced loyalty. Such innovations are increasingly common. Tire giant Michelin, for example, recently launched Maestro, a cloud-based platform that streamlines the links between service providers and fleets. And Bayer, the drug and agriculture company, has begun offering climate-predictive solutions along with its seeds.
B2B customers, always hungry for newer digital solutions, welcome that kind of innovation–and they are willing to pay more for it.
Perfecting your B2B Sales Operations
The more exposure third-party sellers have to companies leveraging these powerful cloud-based options, the less patience they’ll have with enterprises that don’t.
And while they won’t understand the technology beneath these innovations, they’ll know the system is frictionless. They’ll know you are easy to do business with.
The seamless connection of cloud-based systems that flow into back-end systems benefits the B2B business. This is the complete automation of the business that we provide. It speeds up the entire business process and reduces errors – increasing the potential for scale and improving both employee, reseller and customer experience along the way.
ArganoKeste helps clients offer the best cloud-based solutions for their customers, becoming true masters of the Digital Renaissance. Many companies can do parts of what we do. But we provide end-to-end solutions, creating a seamless user experience that benefits sellers and customers. These unique solutions that will power your business forward.
Contact us for more on how ArganoKeste, an award-winning enabler of complex B2B sales and operations, can help.