23/11/20CRM Guide: Sales 4.0

Digital transformation is increasingly sidelining traditional sales structures, including both the B2B and B2C sectors. In the past, products and services could be placed relatively easily in response to customer demand, but today sales representatives are faced with two extreme factors: strong competition, and comprehensively informed and self-assured prospective customers. Nonetheless, personalized advice and selling are not yet on the way out.

marcus baer

Marcus Bär is a member of the management board of CAS CRM and an expert in customer relationship management (CRM). He is convinced that, despite increasing digitalization, business is still done between people, and that personal interaction is key to a customer relationship. But the demands in terms of sales consultations have increased. Rather than a classic product presentation, B2B buyers expect personalized advice. In order to successfully set up customer relationship management digitally, a total of five steps can be identified: cooperation between Marketing and Sales; centralized and transparent data and information management; the continuous expansion of knowledge about the customers; the establishment of customer loyalty as a sales strategy; and a digital transformation strategy that fits with the specific corporate culture of an SME.

In the digital age, selling has become a complex business. The influence of specialist line departments is growing. Around three-quarters of all B2B buyers are looking for a personalized customer experience. So Marketing and Sales need to operate as a single unit. The skills of the two functions should be combined in an unified customer acquisition and service team.

Centralized and transparent data and information management, with staff thinking, working and acting as a team, is key to successful customer relationship management in today's world. Dr. Dr. Cay von Fournier, a digital transformation specialist and proprietor of management consultancy SchmidtColleg GmbH & Co KG, is increasingly seeing that nowadays consultations with customers are no longer just about simple selling, but it's about value-based selling. While interpersonal relationships are enhanced by specialist know-how, the CRM solution provides technical and organizational support.

These days, buyers do extensive research on the Internet in order to find solutions and approaches to meet their needs and wishes. Businesses can take advantage of search behaviors by implementing an inbound and content marketing strategy. By providing appropriate, value-adding content, they attract potential customers to the website and convert them into solid leads. In order to successfully implement inbound marketing, the marketing and sales functions must work together, forming a single unit as a customer acquisition team. According to CRM expert Marcus Bär, that also means, for example, that Marketing and Sales develop a collective idea of who the ideal customer is. The customer acquisition team then looks at the buyer's journey of this ideal customer and, in the lead management process, defines criteria and rules according to which marketing and sales interact.

Customer loyalty should be at the top of the list of sales objectives. Due to competition, many products and services nowadays are so interchangeable that service and customer support are the decisive factors in terms of customer satisfaction and therefore also influence customer loyalty. As digitalization progresses, it is becoming increasingly important to develop potential through a joint approach, and to redefine the traditional management role. The authoritaritan management role is being superseded by the concept of the ‘potential development coach’.

As Head of Digital Business Processes at the German digital association Bitkom e.V. Nils Britze emphasizes: SMEs attach great value to their corporate philosophy and culture. And that, he believes, makes it all the more important to develop a digital transformation strategy that is compatible with those fundamental values.

crm guide sales 4.0You can download the CRM Guide Sales 4.0, with the five steps to greater success in customer relationship management, here: CRM Guide: Sales 4.0 


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