How is the role of the sales representative changing with the digitalisation of the B2B sector?

Author:
Aneta Barth
Published:
5.2.2024
T

he potential of B2B e-commerce is continuously growing, along with awareness of the benefits of sales digital transformation. Statistics show that 75% of companies in this sector consider digitalisation to be the key to success in today's competitive business environment. However, this process also involves numerous changes within an organisation that have a direct impact on sales strategies and the responsibilities of sales representatives. How is their role evolving and how will it affect companies' business efficiency? You will find out in the article.

The traditional role of sales representative

Before the digital age, sales representatives based their work primarily on direct contact with customers. Business meetings, conferences and telephone calls were the main communication and sales tools. Their role focused on preparing offers and placing orders for customers, all of which was done manually via email, telephone and dozens of Excel files. Personalising an offer to a specific customer was therefore extremely time-consuming and required multiple operations, which was quite a challenge. Let's also not forget that they did not have access to tools that would enable them to analyse multiple data simultaneously. Hence, the time they could devote to building customer relationships had to be spent on manual work. 

Many companies have already changed their workflow. Now, most salespeople use CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools to collect customer information and manage relationships with contractors. However, this is not enough to run a successful business in times of digitalisation. In order to move all sales processes to the online world, dedicated technology solutions need to be implemented. 

The challenges of digitalisation 

Many organisations in the B2B sector are still quite reluctant to invest in new technologies and implement a modern e-commerce platform. Some of the most common concerns include:

  • the need to integrate with existing systems 
  • employee resistance to change
  • lack of technical competence in the organisation
  • lack of adaptation to the specifics of the industry
  • high investment costs

It is also worth mentioning that during the pandemic, many organisations had to implement technological solutions at lightning speed, which in the long run, occurred to be suboptimal, leading to a so-called technology debt. This means that further development, e.g. new investments or improvements to specific processes in the organisation, are only possible after catching up with a certain backlog of technical infrastructure. 

Awareness of these challenges, can help companies comprehensively prepare for digital transformation and address potential risks. How? One of the key tasks will be to engage employees in the transformation process, provide them with the right training and tools, and re-create an organisational culture that supports them in their drive for change.

Furthermore, there is no digitalisation without the right technologies, and there are indeed quite a few of these on the market. The most popular solutions include, for example, Adobe Commerce (Magento), Shopify or Shopware. In order to best match them to your organisation's needs, it is worth delegating their selection to experienced partners. E-commerce agencies such as Strix specialise in creating digital transformation strategies, building e-commerce platforms and further developing them. They will help you choose the most optimal platform, tailor it to the specific requirements of your industry, as well as carry out integration with already existing CRM, ERP or PIM systems. At the same time, such comprehensive support will contribute to the optimisation of company costs, as the solutions will be 'tailor-made' for the company and implemented by experts with many years of experience, who are able to prevent potential errors.

Are you wondering how to create a sales platform for the B2B industry?

B2B e-commerce in practice - what benefits does it bring?

Optimised worfkflow

Today, in the face of advancing digital transformation, sales representative does not need to create reports and summaries in Excel or send offers to customers via email. By automating processes such as order processing, tracking deliveries or generating invoices, he can spend more time on the more strategic aspects of customer relationships. E-commerce platforms enable him to automatically personalise offers, which, according to Adobe's analysis, increase conversions by up to 30%. They are therefore crucial to increase salesman’s effectiveness and ensure sales success. In turn, access to powerful analytical tools allows him to better understand customer behaviour, identify market trends and make more accurate business decisions. As a result, the role of the sales representative is evolving into an industry expert and advisor who supports the customer at every stage of the transaction.

Improved B2B customer experience

Digitisation also brings huge benefits for clients, who can place an order anytime, without leaving their home. By receiving offers based on their own preferences, purchase history and detailed data analysis, their satisfaction increases and the shopping experience is getting much better. This is particularly important given that B2B customers expect the quality of service they know from the B2C sector. On the one hand, they can order the products they need online, but at the same time they have a sales person they can always consult. A comprehensive e-commerce platform is therefore the right answer to their needs.

Increased company's competitiveness

From a company perspective, the digitalisation of sales processes has a significant impact on optimising the costs associated with maintaining a sales department and contributes to increasing their efficiency. This, in turn, has a direct impact on the organisation's financial performance. This is evidenced by the figures presented in the McKinsey report, according to which digitally integrated companies increase their efficiency by 26%. In turn, according to a Forrester report, the implementation of an e-commerce system results in an average increase of customers by 33%. These studies confirm that despite the initial challenges of implementing new technologies, the benefits exceed the investment costs.

In order to support companies in the digital transformation process, we have created our proprietary solution for business sellers - B2B Box, which allows you to launch online sales in 3 months! B2B Box is the answer to the most common difficulties business sellers face, namely long implementation times and high implementation costs.

Summary

E-commerce platforms are already revolutionising the work of salespeople, contributing to more efficient sales, a better understanding of customers and an enhanced shopping experience in the business sector. By 2025, it is forecasted that 72% of B2B companies will be using advanced sales automation, which demonstrates the continued growth of digital trends in the industry. Sales representatives must therefore be flexible and ready to adapt to new technologies in order to succeed in today's business environment. Choosing the right partners to support the organisation in specific areas of digitalisation is crucial to smoothly transition and remain competitive.

Want to learn more? Check out our recent Commerce Space webinar, where Lukasz Woznica, Head of Business Development at Strix, talked in detail about the evolving role of the B2B sales representatives in the era of digital transformation.

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