Sales + Ecommerce: From Threat to Thriving
Managing the transformation to SAP-integrated ecommerce is no walk in the park, especially at a B2B manufacturer. At a high level, you know you need to move customer relationships to ecommerce.But when you get down in the weeds of your organization, what does that actually mean? How do you get from “we need ecommerce” to “we’re doing ecommerce, and we’re thriving”?
Magento’s webinar, What It Takes to Be a Leader in B2B Ecommerce, offers great insight into this problem. In the webinar, Forrester Analyst John Bruno says the #1 way to kill digital commerce is to not incentivize your Sales team to use it.
We couldn’t agree more. Sales is your top ally in making B2B ecommerce a success. Yet sales professionals may view self-service ecommerce as a threat to their commission (and even their jobs).
Can you collaborate with Sales to ensure the success of ecommerce? Absolutely! Here are 5 steps you can take to build Sales-friendly ecommerce that works for everyone involved.
Step 1: Understand the Threat (Whether Real or Perceived)
Before you begin evaluating ecommerce solutions, it’s critical to understand where Sales is coming from. You need to get inside their heads and see the world as they do.
Here’s why Sales may perceive ecommerce as a threat:
- Management hasn’t spelled out what salespeople’s jobs will look like after ecommerce.
- On paper, self-service ecommerce looks like a low-cost replacement for salespeople.
- Even if ecommerce won’t replace Sales entirely, salespeople fear losing control of customer relationships.
- Ecommerce looks like a great way to sell product without paying commission.
If you can, take some time to get Sales’ input on ecommerce. Ask them what their greatest fears are and what they look forward to in ecommerce. Your Sales team may phrase it differently, but most likely, their concerns will fall into some or all of the buckets above.
Step 2: Understand the Value that Sales Brings to Ecommerce
In reality, ecommerce is NOT a 1:1 replacement for your Sales team. That might be true in B2C, where transactions, pricing, and availability are much simpler, but it’s not true in B2B.
After the launch of ecommerce, your Sales team will continue to fill roles that software never will. Those roles fall into two categories: strategic/internal, and customer-facing.
Strategic/internal roles for Sales in an ecommerce-empowered business:
- Understand the high-level needs of your biggest customers from a business development perspective.
- Devise plans to capture more revenue from those customers.
- Communicate emerging market trends to the Product Development team.
Customer-facing roles for Sales in an ecommerce-empowered business:
- Maintain regular communication and a warm relationship with your highest-value customers.
- Offer support for the ecommerce buying process as customers navigate catalogs and changing needs within their business.
- Advise and consult on customers’ emerging needs by aligning products to those needs, directing customers to ecommerce to make purchases.
Step 3: Develop a Plan for Sales + Ecommerce
It’s time to develop your plan for partnering with Sales for ecommerce success. Your plan should address the specific concerns that your Sales team shared with you. For the purposes of illustration, we’ll create a plan that addresses the concerns outlined above, but you should create a plan that fits the unique needs of your Sales team.
Your plan for Sales + Ecommerce should:
- Create a revised job description for your Sales team. It doesn’t have to be complex; it just has to spell out what duties are going away, and what new duties are being added with the launch of ecommerce. Describe in detail the positive, exciting role your Sales team can play in transitioning customers to ecommerce.
- Provide a clear roadmap for Sales’ role in ecommerce adoption. Include specific, measurable, and attainable goals with clear deadlines.
- Reiterate that you will always rely on Sales for the human touch. Demonstrate that you understand the value of person-to-person relationships which Sales offers. Describe in detail how you’ll continue to rely on Sales as the human touchpoint for your customers.
- Incentivize your Sales team to use ecommerce. At the end of the day, Sales is trying to earn a living. Craft a commission plan that encourages your Sales team to introduce your customers to ecommerce.
Step 4: Communicate the Plan, Iterate, and Get Sales’ Buy-in
Once you have a clear, concise plan for Sales’ role in ecommerce, you should communicate it through a series of meetings. If your organization is small enough, you should get the entire Sales team together for these meetings so that everyone feels they have a voice.
The methodology for this process is simple: Outline the plan and take feedback from Sales. If objections are raised which the current plan does not address, consider revising the plan and iterating—meeting with Sales again to review the new version.
Once you have a finalized plan and you’ve secured the buy-in of Sales, you’re ready to move forward with ecommerce.
Step 5: Thrive with Sales + Ecommerce
If you’ve listened to the concerns of Sales, charted the role Sales can play in ecommerce, developed a plan, and communicated it, you’re ready to launch ecommerce.
Contrary to popular belief, though, an ecommerce project doesn’t end on Go Live day. In fact, that’s just the beginning. Ecommerce is a living, breathing entity that needs continuous buy-in from your customers and internal stakeholders (i.e. your Sales team). To ensure that your ecommerce initiative thrives, you need to develop metrics for success—things you can track over time.
Here are some metrics you can use to measure Sales and customer buy-in:
- Ecommerce revenue growth over time.
- % of customer base transitioned to ecommerce.
- Growth in commission paid to Sales for ecommerce-enabled transactions.
- Growth in total ecommerce orders (weekly/monthly/yearly) over time.
- NPS (net promoter score) surveys measuring ecommerce satisfaction among both Sales and customers.
When it comes to collaborating with Sales for ecommerce success, the biggest thing is to iterate. Get feedback, listen to the problems of real people, and improve. Ecommerce doesn’t have to be perfect on Day 1; it just has to be scalable and ready to grow as your organization makes the transition. That’s what Corevist Commerce is all about.
Moving Forward: FREE Webinar – Turning Sales into Passionate Ecommerce Advocates
Curious about what this looks like in real life? Listen to this webinar with Corevist client Bioventus. Brian Poole, Director of IT Architecture at Bioventus, discusses how his Sales team transitioned from skeptics to believers in Corevist Commerce. It’s a great story—truly inspiring. Go watch it now.