What do successful B2B organizations, from food wholesalers to automobile manufacturers, have in common? They find the right balance between an in-depth, customer-centric buying experience and operating their core business with agility and intelligence.
SAP Customer Experience helps businesses achieve this balance. We provide a customer experience (CX) ecosystem that connects every part of their organization — from the front office to the back office — so they can be amazing at every customer engagement. We also deliver insights powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and end-to-end processes that simplify operations and make the business more adaptable.
This mission is especially vital for B2B sales. Legacy customer relationship management (CRM) software has become a significant hindrance in our modern, mobile, and always-on marketplace. Built on business-oriented process governance and in-person, siloed relationships between buyers and account executives, yesterday’s CRM cannot deliver the highly personalized digital experience that people expect today. It has not kept pace with the rate of change experienced by buyers and sellers.
That is why we are excited to announce the innovations powering SAP Sales Cloud. With increased agility, intelligence, and scalability, our solution can transform routine sales tactics into holistic sales strategies. It provides the right mix of helpful guidance, self-service, and agile business operations to enable companies to maximize customer lifetime value.
Need for Change
Just how much B2B sales have changed is made clear in a survey by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, in association with SAP. Seventy-two percent of the respondents said their B2B sales strategies have undergone moderate or significant change over the past two years.
As millennials and Gen Z enter the workforce, buyer demands are changing rapidly. This new demographic wants more autonomy in their purchasing journeys. They want digitally enabled sales interactions, and they involve more decision-makers in the process. These trends are consistent across industries and regions.
On the selling side, teams are now more geographically dispersed, largely thanks to the pandemic and remote work. In addition, turnover, which has always been a problem, has increased. While stress has risen and operations have become overly complicated, plenty of job opportunities are available. These trends highlight three crucial challenges:
- Speeding time-to-value as new sellers are hired
- Providing efficient and effective ways for team collaboration
- Simplifying operations to strengthen loyalty from the existing sales force
Navigating the New Era of B2B Sales
Leading companies are pursuing three key objectives to deal with these trends and challenges.
First, they want to create continuity in the buying experience by linking each engagement and interaction. This continuity is powered by data from the entire organization, including front office engagement – marketing, commerce, and service – and back-end business processes such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), supply chain, and inventory data. By using this data to surface insights, sellers can enhance their understanding of each customer and deliver the dynamic, connected journeys that win repeat business.
Secondly, they are making selling easier and faster. Sellers get the tools and technologies to do their jobs, quickly overcome complexities, engage with buyers across digital and in-person channels, and easily navigate selling journeys.
This enables sellers to focus on high-value/high-win and strategic opportunities and to put time into making sure these deals succeed. If they can spend their time selling rather than navigating antiquated technology, they will do a much better job.
Lastly, they are looking to future-proof and accelerate their operations at any scale. This requires a system that is not only high-performing and reliable, but also connected to every part of the organization and easy to adapt when circumstances change. This point is crucial: dealing with the speed and scale of unexpected change has tested many organizations’ mettle in the last three years.
At the same time, usability matters; after all, B2B sellers are also consumers. Their experiences with tech giants such as Apple, Amazon, and Google shape their expectations of how their systems should work — lightning fast and intuitive.
“Customer expectations are shifting rapidly. They are demanding more — more flexibility, more control, more channels, and more sustainable business practices. With the help of artificial intelligence, machine learning, data, and analytics, we are creating new opportunities for the entire sales team so they can make every interaction a personalized customer experience and can deliver the value this new generation of customers expects at every touchpoint.”
– Thomas Saueressig, member of the Executive
Board of SAP SE, Product Engineering
Intelligent Selling Made Simple
SAP’s goal is to help organizations of all sizes and industries run profitable businesses and continuously adapt. Recent innovations in SAP Sales Cloud will help B2B sales organizations do exactly that. Because it is a composable solution, it enables companies to:
- Reimagine the way they engage with business customers to build better, faster sales experiences at scale with always-on availability
- Increase business agility and flexibility with an API-first, microservices-enabled technology approach
- Scale with ease while creating highly differentiated customer experiences that can easily be extended with composable apps
SAP Sales Cloud now creates understanding through insight so companies can effectively connect with customers and capitalize on emerging trends. It uses data-driven intelligence to provide a focus on high-value business, eliminating noise and guiding sellers to more effective courses of action. And it removes barriers to help unify and grow global sales operations. Together, these qualities speed up the sales process and help sellers meet buyers on the customer’s preferred terms.
Intelligent selling should do two simple things: create great experiences for buyers and sellers, and help companies grow. The companies that make intelligent selling a reality will be able to deal with challenges faster than their rivals. They are the companies whose sales operations will cope with rapid change and customer demands. And they are the companies whose customers and employees will stay loyal for the long term.
Ritu Bhargava is president and chief product officer for SAP Customer Experience.