As new dimensions of marketing have emerged in the past few years due to digitalisation, such as social media or big data marketing, the focus sometimes shifts away from sales as a business process. But sales also needs to develop. While only a few years ago customer acquisition was done via telephone and conclusion of a contract was often the only customer interaction, modern sales is much more direct and dynamic.
In order to get a better understanding of how modern sales develops through digitalisation and how cloud computing can be implemented as a solution for new challenges, we have summarised the most important trends in sales:
1) Recognise the Importance of Online Sales
Customers are constantly online – therefore sales staff should be too. From online advertising to customers searching for information on the internet and making purchases in the online shop: the internet has become the engine of sales. The example of furniture giant Ikea shows how irreplaceable online presence is. In the past business year, the Swedish furniture house was able to increase its turnover by 4.7%. The number of customer visits in its stores increased by three percent, while visits to the website gained more than ten percent.
“We are using the quickly changing retail environment and continuously develop Ikea so that we become even more easily accessible”, said Jesper Brodin, managing director of the Ingka Group. In the wake of this the company wants to improve customer encounters both physically as well as digitally.
Small companies can also learn from this example: in most sectors, the physical experience of the shop visit no longer manages without an additional multichannel environment. In many cases, physical points of sales have even become completely obsolete for sales – simply think of airbnb, streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify or online giant Amazon. For 2020 Gartner even forecasts that 85% of all sales decisions or preliminary decisions will be made virtually. Most of the time the customer already knows for which product he or she will opt before getting in contact with a business. For an effective sales operation this means that the interaction with the customer has to be ideally intuitive and as early as possible. This can for example be realised via an attractive online shop, social networks or chat features on the company website. Accessibility of the sales operation and an immediate response to the customer is essential. If the customer does not receive the information promptly then they may choose another more transparently advertised competing product.
2) Modern Sales has to Continuously Adapt to Changing Environments
Not only large corporations, but also smaller competitors have recognised the importance of modern sales strategies, which means that adherence to conventional methods may have disastrous consequences. Structures that are too unwieldy or slow cost staff valuable time in agile online sales and interested parties possibly opt for a different product or service.
Therefore, business systems and used applications have to be flexible and agile in order to be able to adapt to constantly changing business processes, customer demands as well as technical opportunities. Consequently, many companies adapt cloud-based technologies to handle their business processes, which ensures that all staff always use the latest and company-wide identical versions of applications. At the same time all staff, partners and customers can access in parallel data and information and process them together, independently of their location and used devices. Networked cloud solutions enable required information for the entire sales chain to be retrieved and updated in real-time. This makes all processes involved in sales such as customer care, stock management and processing, leaner and more efficient.
3) Increase Staff Productivity in Sales
When red tape and manual processes have been eliminated in favour of cloud solutions, then one vital step for modern sales has already been taken. Next it has to be ensured that the employees can work productively with the new infrastructure. In particular the employee generation of the millennials has grown up with digital technologies and in general their productivity increases significantly when using modern technological tools.
Furthermore, staff satisfaction and therefore efficiency increases when they enjoy more freedom when choosing their working hours and location. The simplest solution to enable location- and time-independent working are digital workspaces, such as the oneclick™ Workspaces. Using any device, employees can access all data and applications, which they need for their daily work, through the oneclick™ platform. This means that sales staff can be reached via different channels as they can retrieve all necessary information at any time via a highly secure connection.
Modern Sales – a Conclusion
The speed and character of sales as a business process has changed fundamentally through digitalisation. This transformation continues as technological advances create constantly new conditions, while also customer requirements continuously evolve. The response to these new conditions is the implementation of cloud technologies and e-commerce tools, which allow a completely location-independent customer interaction in real time, using any device. Furthermore, digital workspaces increase productivity as sales employees enjoy more freedom when designing their work, but are also more easily reachable by customers through the use of various communication channels.
- Image 1: Nikos Kavvados @ unsplash.com
- Image 2: Bruce Mars @ pexels.com (adapted)
- Image 3: Brooke Cagle @ unsplash.com