Social distancing in B2B trade: what to do when the sales representative no longer rings the bell
Published on: May 15, 2020 Updated: Aug 18, 2022
The Corona crisis has also hit the B2B market hard. In many sectors, the order situation is collapsing dramatically due to the current economic situation. And where turnover is still being generated, familiar processes are being turned upside down.
The problem with the field service
The field sales force, which used to be in close contact with customers and generated new orders on site, has been condemned to social distancing by the Corona pandemic. And the customer they would have liked to visit on site is most likely sitting in their home office. Trade fairs, through which some companies generated 50 or even 75 per cent of their total annual turnover in the past, will probably not take place this year either.
The predominant channels through which orders can still be generated are the telephone, fax, video conferences, procurement platforms - or the online shop (which of course is now experiencing enormous growth). Accordingly, corporate purchasing must adapt its procurement guidelines to the new exceptional situation. The good news for B2B traders with online shops is that many companies are suddenly becoming more open to this sales channel. Those who now manage to convince customers through maximum customer orientation and excellent service that the online channel does not completely replace previous procurement channels, but complements them well, can emerge as winners from the crisis.
Punctuality is not a virtue, but a duty
It is often forgotten: The customer experience does not stop after the order has been sent. Of course, it is important that a professional buyer quickly finds what he is looking for and that his company-specific requirements are taken into account in the ordering process. But especially when ordering for business-critical processes, customers want to know when their goods will arrive and if there are any hurdles in the delivery process. After all, due to the Corona pandemic, gaps in the supply chain often arise unexpectedly and supposed standard products are suddenly no longer available.
B2B suppliers must always reassure their customers that their orders are on track. And they do this by communicating the entire shipping process and informing them when the goods were shipped, that they are in delivery and to whom they were delivered. This is especially true for products that are currently most needed: Pharmaceutical items, respirators, ventilators and much more. It is precisely now that it is all the more important in these industries that the status of the shipment is kept in view at all times and that any delays in delivery are proactively and reliably informed. What must not be forgotten here: Not only the end customers, but also service staff, such as installers, as well as sales staff can additionally be kept up to date on the shipment status.
In case of expected delivery delays, customers should be able to see this immediately in the shipping confirmation:
How this works is demonstrated by the Fricke company, which sells agricultural machinery, garden technology, commercial vehicles and spare parts all over the world. Because customers often wait urgently for their shipment, especially when ordering spare parts, it is essential for the agricultural machinery specialist to closely monitor whether the ordered shipment arrives on time.
Fricke notices quickly when something is burning in the delivery
With the help of parcelLab's software Fricke optimises the shipping process individually for each customer. Using a custom export, which also includes same-day and over-night express carriers, the company analyses what percentage of shipments are delivered on time. If a consignment is delayed, the customer receives a notification in real time and can, for example, reschedule on the construction site in time. The status quo of the delivery is also monitored for forwarding deliveries and the customer is informed promptly. Fricke benefits not only from satisfied customers, but also from lower costs, as failed deliveries can be minimised considerably, especially for expensive haulage deliveries.
The complete Fricke (Granit Parts) Customer Success Story can be read here:
Incidentally, B2B online retailers can counter the fear of many professional buyers of thwarting sales to their long-standing sales representative when orders are placed online by embedding the sales representative in the communication - be it through a picture, a personal signature or even the integration of a YouTube video in which the respective employee explains the individual shipping steps.
There are no limits to creativity. The only important thing is: it must be evaluated from the customer's perspective.
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