A sales team can determine success or failure for a B2B ecommerce program. Sales personnel have the influence and trust among customers to drive ecommerce adoption. It’s the job of management to provide the sales team with the tools to make ecommerce a key part of their efforts.
In this post, I will share a 10-step approach for getting a B2B sales team to embrace ecommerce.
Define ecommerce. Start with the basics. What is ecommerce? How is it used? Why is it used? What are the benefits, limitations, and advanced features (such as punchout integration)? Try not to make assumptions about what people know. Explain what ecommerce will mean to customers and how it will help the staff be more successful.
Share your vision. Communicate why ecommerce is a priority and what it means for customers, employees, and the company. Help your team to connect their efforts and successes with the bigger picture.
Establish expectations. Define your expectations for the sales team. Document these expectations and ensure the team agrees with them. Review the expectations with the team frequently. It’s easy for employees to drift from their original intentions over time. For example, if a salesperson is expected to obtain five new registered users per month, then management should track, report, and follow-up with her monthly.
Remove fears. B2B sales staff often fear ecommerce. Common concerns include (i) being replaced by ecommerce, (ii) losing commission, (iii) having less control, (iv) technology glitches, and (v) change itself. All of these fears can be addressed through education and communication. Often people do not admit their fears, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Address possible fears with your team in a group setting.
Plan together. Involve your sales team in planning for ecommerce. They understand the customer and often know the real-world implementation challenges and how to overcome them. Moreover, the team will believe in the plan and execute it better if they create it with you.
Work together. Going on calls with your sales team is the best way to understand customers and their needs. I once visited 60 manufacturing customers face-to-face and learned more than I expected. It was an eye-opening experience! It helped me connect customers’ challenges to our products.
Incentivize efforts. Be creative with how you incentivize your sales team for their ecommerce efforts. Consider short-term incentives, such as new user registration, first time purchase, or completed customer presentations. Rewards do not have to be monetary. They can be, for example, gifts, additional time off, or experiences.
Be creative with how you incentivize your sales team…
Measure success. Start with a handful of key performance indicators that align with your sales cycle. Make sure that your team understands what the KPIs are and how they are tracked.
Ask for feedback. Ask customers for feedback on your ecommerce program. This can be done in several ways. Open-ended questions can provide qualitative feedback. Survey questions, such as the Net Promoter Score, can provide quantitative data. And internal staff feedback can identify areas to improve.
Praise publicly. Let the team know when members deliver exceptional results. This positive affirmation encourages others to do better. Delivering praise can be as easy as sending an email to let everyone know who got a big win and, more importantly, how he did it. Over time, finding success, celebrating it, and offering help will become a part of your company’s culture.