The events of 2020 have shifted the way B2B buyers and sellers interact. From researching, purchasing, and connecting with companies, B2B consumers now do business on their own terms. With added pressure on sales teams and branch-based distribution partners, businesses must use automation to meet the expectations of speed, accuracy, and convenience for B2B consumers.
In this Q&A, Chris Timmerman, Managing Partner at Waeg® and Ray Grady, president & CEO at Conexiom®, ask each other pressing questions to help B2B companies navigate this new market dynamic and capture sales in commerce.
Chris: Coming from the ecommerce world, what have been the biggest lessons or “a ha” moments you’ve had with sales order automation?
Ray: I’ve spent almost 20 years in ecommerce, and I had never really thought to ask suppliers how they captured orders and engaged digitally with their customers and trading partners. When I learned that B2B ecommerce solutions only captured less than 10% of suppliers’ overall revenue, that was a real “a ha” moment for me. I was also blown away when I realised that 50% of companies still use manual processing in today’s day and age. With this, it made so much sense to have a sales order automation solution that helped suppliers digitise their manual processes without forcing their customers to change their buying behaviour.
Ray: How have you seen behaviours change in your customers since the pandemic?
Chris: Organisations have realised they need to accelerate their investments in digital transformation. I’ve seen quite a few customers who have been impacted by the pandemic decide to invest more in digital transformation, specifically for ecommerce. A study by McKinsey & Co demonstrated how COVID-19 has pushed companies over the technology tipping point. For a transformation that would normally take years, digital adoption has accelerated tremendously in just a couple months’ time. We’ve seen from recent events that digital transformation is no longer something optional, it’s now a fundament part of a company’s strategy.
Chris: How can businesses deliver goods seamlessly, quickly, and accurately while enhancing the customer experience?
Ray: Digital channels are customers’ most preferred method to do business. Because of that, brands are now incentivising their customers to use their digital channels and are turning to ecommerce for new customer acquisition. When it comes to ecommerce, ask yourself these things:
- How am I handling my EDI customers?
- How am I handling business in e-procurement, using solutions like SAP® Ariba?
- How am I implementing modern solutions like an ecommerce portal?
- How am I digitising my orders?
If you address these questions and put the right solution in place, you will succeed in delivering your products faster and accurately, driving costs out of your system, and providing a better customer experience.
Ray: How does automation solve your clients’ need to drive high-value added tasks?
Chris: Customers are looking to remove nonvalue added activities and ensure that their teams focus on high-value, customer-centric activities. Many organisations have pressure to grow from a sales perspective but want to do it with reduced headcount. To do so, our clients need to engage with their customers across the value chain. With Salesforce’s loyalty platform, companies can drive customer behaviour change by defining what their desired behaviour is, then rewarding customers after the action is achieved. This puts a new focus on high-value activities to understand their customers’ business while encouraging customers to use methods that allow companies to automate orders, reducing low-value tasks.
Chris: Suppliers want to see all their data from a single pane of glass view to enhance the customer experience. How does Conexiom do this?
Ray: Because our customers see Salesforce as a customer engagement platform to centralise their work, we built the Conexiom for Salesforce app that is available on the AppExchange. It’s a Conexiom user interface within Salesforce that links customer data and actions from Conexiom to the relevant Salesforce account record. This lets users access our portal and view data without leaving Salesforce, so users can do exception handling, case management, and engage with their customers all within a central platform.
Chris: How does automation reduce friction in B2B?
Ray: A significant amount of hours are spent manually processing B2B orders. Pricing, product, customer, and shipping information need to be very specific, making these orders quite complex. Automation eliminates errors from occurring to allow suppliers to focus on value-added tasks such as upselling, cross-selling, and delighting customers. It also ensures that products get to their customers faster, and when they arrive, they’re accurate. Not only does automation reduce internal frictions caused by manual labor, but it also reduces friction between suppliers and their customers.
Watch the webinar with Waeg®: Multichannel B2B Order Capture