Scott Frymire shares his perspective on how to incentivize and champion sales to embrace eCommerce
If you’ve launched or are in the process of launching a digital commerce site, you know the positive impact a digital branch can have on your business. In addition to expanding your brand presence, a website decreases your cost per transaction, increases your profits, and, in the long run, saves your company money.
Knowing the benefits that come with eCommerce, your primary goal is to shift more customers to your website. But, in order to encourage channel shift, you must first get your sales team on board. They are the conduit to your customer base and without their help and support it will be an uphill battle to gain digital adoption and online success.
What’s in it for me?
The number-one concern sales reps have with a digital sales channel is the lack of commission from online orders. This fear can become a major roadblock in your eCommerce efforts, so if you want to incent buyer behavior to order online, start by commissioning your reps for digital sales.
From my perspective, if I was a wholesale distributor, I wouldn’t care if an order started online or offline or finished online or offline. I know my sales reps are working with customers and doing their best for the business to get our products and our brand out there, so why not reward them for their efforts? I’ve actually seen some companies place a higher commission on eCommerce orders because they know that they’re saving more money on efficiencies and lower costs per transactions. Online order commissions break down any apprehensions your sales staff may have about eCommerce and will motivate them to move people to your digital channel.
Beyond simply commissioning for orders placed via the website, you must continually articulate the ways your eCommerce site is going to benefit your sales team. Let me lay out five ways a digital branch benefits your salespeople:
- AOV is typically higher online, which means more money in sales’ pockets
When we look at average order value (AOV) as a key metric to track, we almost always see a significantly higher AOV on online orders than offline or traditional orders. I’d say the majority of Unilog customers who share their data with us will see anywhere from 45 to 90% higher AOV on their eCommerce orders. Why is that? Well, generally, websites do a better job of up-selling and cross-selling items. When the system is set up properly, and the data is made available, your site does a more consistent job suggesting products than most humans can. While I’m sure your sales reps do some successful up-selling/cross-selling with customers, chances are they can’t remember every item that goes together with every product you sell; it’s nearly impossible to do, especially if you have upwards of 100,000+ SKUs.
A Unilog customer recently shared their business metrics that show their AOV for online orders is now 87% higher than their AOV for offline orders.
Explain to your sales staff that if they push business to your digital channel, they will see the benefits. As they shift offline customers to your online channel, the chances of adding supplemental items to their cart increases, which raises the AOV, which ultimately leads to more money in the salesperson’s wallet.
- Their odds of winning strategic accounts increase
Long gone are the days of plopping down a mega catalog on a prospective customer’s desk hoping to impress them just with the sheer size of the book. Today, buyers are more interested in the scope of your online offerings; an “endless aisle” is much more attractive to them than an oversized paper catalog they have to fumble through.
Don’t underestimate the impression your eCommerce site makes on a B2B customer. In addition to providing a more comprehensive product catalog, a website offers more tools and functionality for customers like self-service shopping, order and account management, and punchout capabilities that let them transact from their procurement system into your eCommerce site. These digital commerce features can really give your salespeople a competitive advantage at the negotiation table.
- They will gain better insights into customer buying behavior and needs
When your sales staff is trying to win deals, your site will certainly give them a better sense of their customers’ buying behaviors and needs. Your digital channel collects an enormous amount of information about your customers, such as which pages they are visiting, the products they are searching for, and how often they are visiting your site. This is really powerful information when you’re talking about gaining a deeper understanding of your customers’ needs. Are they interested in products and solutions they’ve never ordered from you before? Are they using your site to compare your prices against your competition? Are they abandoning their shopping cart? All this insight is readily available for your sales reps so that when they do have a conversation or meeting with that customer, they can be better prepared to assist them.
- They’ll have more time to build deeper customer relationships and pursue new business
A digital branch boosts efficiency across your entire organization, but especially on the order entry front. I know distributors who have experienced an 80% savings on order processing time because they were able to shift more routine orders and questions to their website. Many buyers like a self-service option because it’s quick and convenient to place basic orders and reorders. By promoting self-service to customers, your sales team can spend less time taking mundane, lower margin orders and devote more time to more important things like consulting customers, building better relationships, and prospecting for new business. You hired your sales reps to be specialized product experts, not order takers, so take advantage of their skillset to build your business and customer base.
- It provides an easier way to locate items and information for customers
One of the best tools you can provide your sales team is an eCommerce site. With the help of a PIM solution, it houses massive amounts of product information and content, making it a trusted resource for them. It’s so much easier and faster to search and find a specific product on your website than in any paper catalog or manufacturer materials. When a customer inquires about a product, with just a few clicks of the mouse a sales rep can navigate the site to find that product and all the information related to it – from product specs and size options, to the customer’s contracted price. ERP systems weren’t meant to store the abundance of product information that a website can, especially when the data is enriched with features and benefits, additional images, product manuals, spec sheets, and video links.
With enriched data developed by Unilog, Fairmont Supply provides customers with detailed information about their products, including a title description, manufacturer, part number, UPC, and multiple product images.
As the customer scrolls down on the page, they can also see features and benefits, as well as specifications about the product – rich content and product data that doesn’t usually exist in any ERP system.
Nothing to lose, everything to gain
Your digital channel was built to meet your customers’ needs, but it also does wonders for your organization, especially your sales team. Chock full of product information, it is a reliable and functional means of assisting customers and creating more sales opportunities. Once you show the power of your website to sales, they will become huge advocates who will help stand up and grow your digital branch. No matter where you are in your eCommerce journey, make sure you clearly articulate and remind your sales reps of the benefits an online channel provides them. With sales on board and aligned with your digital strategy, your entire organization wins.
Scott Frymire, SVP of Marketing at Unilog, has more than 20 years of experience with B2B software companies, including 16 years marketing ERP solutions and services to the wholesale distribution market. As an industry expert and thought leader, Frymire hosts webinars and presentations geared toward wholesale distributors considering a digital branch, and those entering and competing in the digital commerce marketplace.