In just a short time, the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the daily lives of people around the world. Many businesses are now facing the startling reality that life as they know it will never be the same.
The pandemic has uncovered gaps in their business plans and revealed just how crucial it is to have an infrastructure in place for eCommerce and in particular, digital selling, to meet customer needs and expectations. The truth is, the way we buy, sell, and engage with customers has shifted suddenly – and there’s no going back.
Buying preferences are changing, and the speed at which these changes are happening is accelerating. The B2B world went online out of necessity and buyers fully took control of the buying process. It was in this moment when the role of B2B salespeople fundamentally changed, as selling is no longer predicated on in-person meetings, golf games, lunch, or other usual “events.” Today, the job of a sales rep is to engage with customers digitally, taking on a virtual sales role that requires the right tools to be successful.
The world of sales may have been turned upside down, but this upheaval has also created a powerful opportunity to optimize the entire business – systems, processes, and people, particularly sales teams.
To win business and earn customer loyalty, salespeople must learn to listen fully to their customers and their markets. This means gathering and understanding data, sometimes massive quantities of data, and extracting from it meaningful, actionable insight. Then, they must learn to use that insight to drive highly personalized, focused product offerings to meet their customers’ specific needs today. And they must learn to engage with those customers where, when, and how the customer wants.
Beyond equipping their teams, businesses need to ensure the steps taken today are in line with building a foundation for long-term success – delivering full digital selling capabilities as part of an eCommerce strategy. PROS helps businesses transform the selling process to be ready for the world of digital commerce by accelerating sales cycles and delivering valuable product and pricing insights.
PROS solutions are based on machine learning (ML) and proven artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms that support the insights that a B2B seller needs to go forward and drive the right offer. It's based on fully understanding the customer and having the right data that informs that offer.
We help sales reps find the opportunity – that needle in the haystack – using AI. PROS solutions can look at past transaction history, gaps in how companies have ordered, product mix and how it's changed, and then make recommendations based on that intelligence.
ML and AI must be core to the way businesses move to digital selling due to the amount of data being introduced – intent data; data on previous transactions with that customer or customers like them; data on market conditions that affect the buyer; data on competitors; data on supply chain implications; data from so many sources that ultimately help determine who that actual buyer is, how to anticipate their needs and wants, and how to create and position the right personalized offer just for them.
In this new era, businesses must drive accelerated adoption of digital selling as the primary method of meeting their customers’ needs, and they need to do so far more rapidly and fully than any of us expected. ML- and AI-based solutions can help, and companies that have already started down this path with integrating a digital selling motion are finding themselves in a much better position than others who hadn't quite started to embrace it.
Failing to do anything at all will leave businesses flying blind during one of the most disruptive shifts in decades.
And for those that do adopt a more agile, informed, and engaged selling model, they have the opportunity to distinguish themselves and emerge from the pandemic even stronger.
For more information on selling in the digital age, listen to PROS CMO Celia Fleischaker on Inside Analysis with Eric Kavanagh.
About the AuthorMore Content by Sarah Hoffman