Not that long ago, the costs to modernize traditional sales channels were often prohibitive for legacy companies. Digital transformation - while necessary - required significant investment. Yet true ROI is now within reach.
Maximizing B2B commerce has increased dramatically with the rapid advancements of modern commerce, data, and marketing technologies. These advancements have been a game-changer for many legacy B2B brands.
In fact, a recent Forrester study found that digital customer service interactions increased by 40% last year, and 42% of adults shop at online-only brands.
Yet in the not-too-distant past, the costs to modernize traditional sales channels via technology were often prohibitive for legacy companies. Digital transformation - while necessary for ongoing B2B commerce success - required significant investment, and the return on it just wasn’t compelling enough for some legacy manufacturers, distributors, and retailers.
While this challenge meant that until recently, only 15% of companies prioritized digital transformation (per Forrester), true return on investment (ROI) is now within reach, thanks to the commoditization of digital transformation technologies.
In fact, one of the largest suppliers of telco access equipment took advantage of these technological advancements, and their ROI proves just how much of a worthwhile endeavor it was.
This telco company was faced with the same dilemma that many manufacturers, distributors, and resellers experience. Their products had evolved and matured, making them an industry leader in telephonic manufacturing. In fact, they’d always been on the cutting edge of manufacturing and services for the telco industry.
Yet the way they tried to maximize their B2B commerce through marketing and selling their goods hadn’t evolved in decades. The company was still utilizing one-on-one consultations, call center interactions, and email, and One-on-one consultations, call center interactions, and email, and they were long past due for digital modernization.
The challenge this telco company faced was clear. While their buyers were rapidly evolving in a world that was continuously making purchase journeys easier, their product catalog, with its complex customization options, didn’t lend itself to a self-guided purchase journey.
While undergoing digital transformation would be a massive undertaking for the organization, they could no longer put it off. By doing nothing, they were moving further away from meeting customer expectations, and putting future revenue at risk. In order to improve their B2B commerce potential they needed to take their business to the next level.
The telco company partnered with Object Edge to optimize their marketing and sales operations, and we identified several key pain points:
Call centers were difficult to scale due to high costs of training and attrition
Customers found self-service options to be limited or non-existent, and reverted to a call center
Simple transactions such as reordering or editing a quote involved unnecessary calls with a sales representative
Difficulty in educating the workforce on cross-sell and up-sell opportunities
Configurable products had little-to-no content to guide an online purchase workflow
First, we defined what the digital transformation of marketing and sales operations would look like. It should help brands to:
Understand their target market
Define (superior) brand experiences
Enable the right channel technology
Leverage metrics to measure ROI
When executed correctly, this framework enables a brand to not only connect with customers, but also shape their interactions with them to drive long-term loyalty.
We define the digital transformation of marketing and sales operations as leveraging digital channels to better listen to and communicate with a customer, and updating processes and training people to leverage those new channels.
Next, we focused on creating the appropriate team structure. A strong internal design team was needed to define the optimal customer experiences for self-service online. Then they were able to leverage Object Edge as their partner to review and brainstorm on those designs. Once the designs were consolidated, user stories were written and handed off to our technical design and development team to develop the solution.
They chose to do a phased migration of customers onto the new digital portal, controlling who had access via their Salesforce dashboard. These accounts were synchronized on a regular cadence to ensure that the commerce portals had a relevant view of who should have access. In this way, we were able to incrementally improve the user experiences based on the feedback of the initial set of customers. This led to a very polished and tested UX for the majority of their customers once they were on-boarded.
In order to ensure an effective digital transformation, we also chose to focus on sales efficiency first. Typically, organizations need to coordinate several internal groups to effectively digitally transform. So, a great place to start is where there is already budget assigned, and clear cost savings can be demonstrated. Often, our customers can break-even on their investment to transform high-touch sales to self-service in as little as six months by focusing on sales efficiency. In this way, they can leverage existing operating budgets early in the fiscal year to pay for the capitalized investment, and show near instantaneous savings once customers are brought online.
All of this led to selecting a next-generation commerce platform that was able to:
Easily interface with the product configuration of the source system (CPQ)
Easily accept pricing from external systems
Easily deliver beautiful, modern customer journeys in mobile and desktop and kiosk (channel agnostic)
Offer profile hierarchies and attach different price lists to different hierarchies
Natively support product bundling
Offer powerful search tools that allow for syntactic matching and synonym redirects
Ultimately, it needed to be API-first, fast to deploy, and have a broad ecosystem, rich partner network, and flexible catalog and pricing model.
With the priorities clearly defined (sales efficiency through customer self service), this market leader looked at the ways they could reduce friction in the customer experience.
The low hanging fruit was self-quoting for customers (instead of talking to a sales representative). They had been using an internal CPQ tool (by Oracle) to generate all sales quotes. To enable self-quoting, they leveraged our firm to stack a commerce platform on top of CPQ, enabling a modern, easy to use customer journey for self-quoting.
Within 6 months of providing a viable digital channel, this telco industry leader saw 36% of all deal quoting shift to being completed online, saving sales reps more than 12,000 hours over the course of three months. Most importantly, they have happier customers, offer a superior customer experience, and are beginning to maximize their B2B commerce.
The digital transformation of marketing and sales operations will lead to significant, positive impacts on an organization’s top and bottom line, while improving customer relationships.
Interested in learning more about maximizing your B2B commerce potential? Contact the team of experts at Object Edge for a free consultation.
About the Author
Rohit is a forward-thinking eCommerce evangelist, especially focused on re-energizing the B2B sector and merging the old disciplines with new technology opportunities. He is passionate about delivering profitable growth through people-driven digital transformation. Watch his talk on digital transformation.