Salespeople are often opposed to eCommerce in B2B organizations for fear that it will replace them and make them obsolete. This is often not the case and also fighting against something that is coming regardless of how much they might oppose it.
eCommerce is not a magic bullet that will automate all sales in B2B organizations. It can be a tool that drastically improves the customer experience and the ability to grow an organization with less overhead and people doing manual tasks.
This should be seen as a blessing for salespeople. Salespeople typically don’t like boring manual tasks and want to be on calls and in meetings selling!
So how do you align salespeople with eCommerce so that B2B organizations can modernize and retain their teams? Here are some of the main things we see working with our clients:
Align Compensation With eCommerce
If the sales team is competing with eCommerce, they will not support it. The easiest way to fix this is to assign every customer, whether they buy online or offline to a sales rep so that they get commission or account management-related rewards for helping that customer. In some cases, they may be signing up new folks to use the website, and in other cases, they may be growing accounts that started on the web.
This can easily be done by having all web orders integrate into your ERP / CRM so that you have a central source of truth for all orders that can be assigned back to the sales team.
Demonstrate How It Makes Their Job Easier
Work with the sales team on how you envision customers using the website. In most cases, it will be used to place orders that are easy to make. In more complex cases they may request a quote or need help placing a more complex order.
This helps the salesperson in two ways. Simple orders don’t bog down the sales rep. Complex orders still require conversation and consultation where the sales team can shine and assist them through the online process.
Align Sales & eCommerce Teams Regularly
Aligning sales with eCommerce so that they are in sync is critical to success. Most of the features being developed for eCommerce should be to support sales and grow sales. Therefore the sales team should be involved in planning and road mapping of the website.
Add Request A Quote
Request a quote functionality is a feature most modern B2B eCommerce platforms have so you can add this to allow customers to request quotes on a basket of items, similar to buying it. This can be sent to sales reps to facilitate the quoting and sales process.
Allow Sales Reps To Order On Behalf Of Customers Online
There are many platforms that can allow sales reps to facilitate the ordering process on behalf of customers online. This might be something like editing or changing orders as well as placing entire orders on their behalf.
Unify eCommerce With ERP Data
The number one most important thing you can do with eCommerce is unify your ERP data. Most if not all B2B companies have their key data in their ERP. If the data is siloed in each system it’s very hard for salespeople to help facilitate eCommerce when they know the data won’t get to the ERP or doesn’t have accurate data from the ERP.
For a more in-depth discussion, check out this Youtube replay from one of the last events in which BigCommerce debated this exact issue with Bluesnap. This hour-long debate dives in much deeper but reiterates all of the points above.