Leveraging Technology in Sales Distribution: Embracing Digital Transformation
When globalization finally became mainstream, many brands changed from being well-kept, local secrets to internationally famous names. For example, you can find Ace Hardware, Home Depot or Lowe’s in countries outside the United States. No matter which branch you visit, you’ll see the same array of familiar home improvement brands. Thanks to modern sales distribution technology, people all over the world can shop for leading brands such as DeWalt, Makita or Milwaukee Tool.
As sales continues transitioning to the online arena, the role of sales distribution will become even larger. It’s no longer a matter of making products available wherever they’re needed. To remain competitive, distributors must have these products available in a timely, efficient and cost-effective manner. In addition, distributors need a presence across multiple channels to capture rising demand. With the help of modern sales technology, sales distribution channels are playing an increasingly important role in the supply chain. It’s part of a larger digital sales transformation that’s driving today’s fast-evolving market.
What is Digital Sales Transformation?
In a hyper-competitive sales environment, companies require distributors to ensure efficiency in every aspect of operations. This means becoming more agile across the entire sales journey, from qualifying leads to closing deals. Digital sales transformation aims to align all organizational work processes to create a unified approach. This alignment has the power to streamline sales, raise customer service levels and encourage business growth.
Digital sales transformation also means reducing or eliminating inefficiencies while building stability. Improvements include automation tools to take over repetitive tasks and digital platforms to upgrade sales operations. Analytics will also play a role in reviewing performance and making real-time recommendations. Finally, digital sales transformation likely requires customer service enhancements to better understand buyers and their concerns.
Advantages of Digital Transformation in Sales Distribution
As the recent pandemic showed, the journey to online sales is inevitable. Distributors that adopted an online presence were rewarded for their initiative. According to the 2021 SAP report on the distribution state of eCommerce, more than one-fifth of distributors report that between 20% and 30% of their revenues now come from online sales.
However, the shift remains far from complete. New technology continues to emerge at a rapid pace, meaning distributors will need to work double time just to keep up. Heading the to-do list are necessities such as adopting a cloud system and leveraging both automation tools and artificial intelligence (AI). Distributors will also need to firm up their resolve in systematizing business policies and adopting a unified approach. In return, intrepid distributors can look forward to the following benefits:
Improved Efficiency and Productivity
Many sales tasks involve manual, repetitive processes. These include prospecting for clients, managing the sales pipeline, sending scheduled client messages, managing meetings and generating personalized documents. Modern sales automation tools can greatly reduce the time needed by sales professionals to complete these tasks. This adds up to more free time in their schedules to meet clients and close deals. Equally important is how automation helps reduce or eliminate mistakes arising from employee fatigue, boredom or lack of focus. Sales staff can also reclaim time previously spent redacting documents, fixing errors and issuing clarifications.
The latest mobile sales management apps are introducing exciting new features that make field sales calls more effective. Here, AI helps agents devise more efficient sales routes to visit more clients in less time. Sales managers can track field agents and provide expert coaching on demand. Meanwhile, agents on client calls have instant access to updated information on product prices and stock inventory in real time. By giving customers enough information to make an educated choice, closing deals is a lot easier. Moreover, with field sales software, reps can start the documentation process and create quotations and invoices on the fly. There’s no need to go back to the office for signatures or hard copies.
Enhanced Customer Experience
Improvements in the customer experience (CX) enrich the purchasing environment—and the likelihood of sales. Key to this is an easy-to-use platform with intuitive controls. The result is an optimized storefront that lets customers browse for products without experiencing annoyingly long load wait times.
A better CX also means recognizing visitors’ privacy concerns. This includes giving them the leeway to opt out of data collection, especially in areas where data privacy laws are in effect. It also involves waiving registration requirements for customers who want to buy but remain noncommittal on signing up. Finally, you need to offer convenient, one-click purchase options.
Enhancing the overall CX pays dividends in the long run. For example, according to Accenture Life Trends 2023, a single-point increase in a company’s CX score can literally translate into millions of dollars in additional revenue.
Real-Time Data Insights
Analytics is about gathering massive amounts of data and piecing them together to discover new truths about your company’s performance—and your customers’ behavior. Using this information, the software generates insights on how best to move forward.
Even better, analytics gathers data from varied sources, such as customer feedback, automated device reports, social media and more. It then connects and combines both structured and unstructured data from these sources to provide new perspectives. Your sales distribution team may well have overlooked these insights if not for analytics.
Another strength of data analytics is how it identifies patterns in the market based on sales performance and market trends. A sudden spike in demand might signal the need to increase manufacturing output—or raise prices to temper the market’s appetite. Conversely, detecting an emerging sales slowdown could prompt companies to reduce stockpiling and avoid an inventory glut. At the same time, analytics helps you take the pulse of current customer sentiment.
How Technology is Revolutionizing Sales Distribution
Over the years, the role of sales distribution has changed to keep up with market developments. Distributors no longer function as a brand’s extended warehouse. Instead, they actively extend a brand’s sales reach—not just offline but online as well. Furthermore, distributors are reporting increased efficiency in the selling process due to modern technology tools.
Automation Tools for Streamlining Processes
Sales automation tools can greatly reduce the time needed to complete necessary but time-consuming administrative chores. For instance, tasks such as data entry, client communications, managing schedules, lead generation, prospecting and making reports and presentations.
Using software to automate these tasks frees up sales teams to do more of what they do best—sell. According to Hubspot, a typical salesperson spends only a third of the workday selling, with the rest of their time being consumed by admin.
Further, sales teams may benefit from customer-service-based automation practices. To illustrate, a chatbot could determine what a prospect or existing customer needs—either answering their question or pointing them in the right direction. In addition, the system can qualify the customer based on the interaction, after which a sales rep can take the conversation to the next stage of the sales pipeline.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems
A customer relationship management (CRM) system holds the key to understanding buyers better. It allows sales distribution teams to compile customer profiles covering their entire relationship with the brand. This includes interactions with sales and customer service as well as purchase histories. The CRM may function as both the collecting agent and the repository for all this data. Instead of having customers repeat important information every time they talk to an agent, the CRM readily provides an updated information sheet to help move the conversation forward.
Using data from the CRM, sales agents can track a customer’s location in the sales pipeline at any point. Field sales reps then access this data via a mobile app when calling on clients, enabling them to pick up where they left off during the last meeting.
Providing an easy-to-use eCommerce platform also helps distributors extend their reach outside their usual areas. At the same time, customers will enjoy a more accessible and convenient way to complete purchases in their own time.
Of course, simply building an online selling portal isn’t enough. Buyers expect an outstanding customer experience, so anything less than satisfactory in terms of usability or function just won’t cut it. In a 2019 survey, McKinsey reported that sellers who provided an exceptional online service were twice as likely to be selected primary suppliers as those offering subpar services.
Moreover, buyers will likely turn to sellers who offer additional services that further boost the CX. For example, having a live chat function for detailed conversations with sales or customer service. Other in-demand features include a clear, uncomplicated payment system, an orderly and easily-navigable storefront and a shortened buying process.
Advancing Digital Transformation with Technology Solutions and Apps
Even as technology continues to work its magic for sales distribution, relationships remain a fundamental aspect of the sales process. Buyers still need sales reps to take orders, keep track of progress and provide after-sales service. Thankfully, modern sales technology tools are designed not to replace salespeople but rather to help them perform their jobs more efficiently.
Mobile Sales Apps
Mobile sales apps hold several advantages for sales teams. For a start, they offer improved agility to sales reps via access to critical information whenever and wherever needed. Digital sales tools also promote teamwork by allowing sales teams to share information and collaborate on documents.
Mobile apps work by connecting to the corporate CRM through the cloud. As such, reps receive updated information on everything from stock and price levels to delivery status. During meetings, clients often need these pieces of information before deciding on whether to approve a purchase.
Sales Analytics Tools
Sales analytics tools use AI and machine learning to establish connections between data points that generate actionable insights. Analytics enables sales managers to examine the performance of each sales team member, helping them to spot operational inefficiencies.
Say that an agent spends more time driving than meeting actual clients. The software could suggest a shorter, more efficient route. Alternatively, analytics may conclude the rep is spending too much time closing the deal. Depending on the situation, the software could recommend either increasing the deal amount to offset the excessive time spent, focusing on the actual decision-maker or improving objection handling.
Sales Enablement Platforms
Sales enablement platforms are tools that provide the information buyers need for making a decision. Today’s buyers prefer conducting their own research prior to contacting a sales rep. Rather than insisting on delivering information to clients, why not use sales enablement tools to create and manage sales and marketing materials? These include blog articles, presentations, research papers and surveys.
A sales enablement solution thus provides a central location for all your sales materials and content. It has features and functions that let you manage, create, edit and share these materials with your audience.
Embrace Digital Transformation, Upgrade Your Sales Distribution Technology
Don’t write off salespeople just yet. Despite the demands of modern business, we have yet to see sales technology take over an entire sales process or do away with human intervention. When it comes to human buyers (who continue to dominate the sales journey), sales representatives still have the advantage in terms of relatability and flexibility.
That said, the benefits of utilizing current sales technology to improve business performance is undeniable. Sales automation tools remove not just the repetitive nature of many tasks but also the possibility of human error. Mobile apps deliver information and more to the field, removing the need for constant back-and-forths to the office just to get fresh data or have bosses sign off on deals. Finally, sales enablement tools let you create and develop the information buyers need to make up their own minds.
Let Ingage Lead Your Sales Efforts
Ingage is a sales enablement tool consisting of interactive presentation software. Its cloud-based system lets entire teams collaborate remotely on a single document, no matter where they are. The software’s interactive elements also raise the engagement levels on your sales presentations.
Once completed, you can share the presentation link with your client. Here, Ingage’s powerful analytics monitor your audience’s reaction to each section. Moreover, it can identify which areas caught the client’s attention and which might need more polishing.
See for yourself how technology can improve your sales distribution efforts. Visit us and tell us a little about your organization. In return, we’ll be happy to arrange a free demonstration at a time and date most convenient for you.