Name any business that doesn’t need to make another sales call or email tomorrow to have a robust future full of growth. If you didn’t name your company, then we want to share our thoughts on lead and quote management automation, especially for broad product catalogs, and why it might be a smart move to improving your sales pipeline.
If you named your company, let us know your secret.
Every business we meet has moved into the multichannel, e-Commerce space. It’s how B2B and B2C buyers want to interact with you, with the Internet replacing traditional mechanisms. The good news for your business is that this can significantly reduce transaction costs while opening you up to more and more customers every day.
The risk is that this growing audience has little patience. You’re being asked to provide competitive quotes sooner, to understand customers as soon as they arrive on your digital doorstep and make the purchase process ever easier. These success elements require you to manage your leads and quote more effectively, making automation the most critical advancement of today.
Before we dive into the benefits of automation around your lead and quote management, helping to improve your sales pipeline, we want to note a reason behind considering technology to help with the process.
When you employ a system to initially capture and react to offline and online leads, your team is better able to focus on higher-value targets. Quoted line items can be automatically categorized and grouped for leads and sales teams, making information more comfortable to read and annotate for improved sales.
The quotes you deliver can be better in-line with your latest data, as the system automatically updates pricing, availability, and even elements like shipping based on customer status and location. Automation tools are also designed to support multiple currency elements, which allows potential customers to understand a purchase relative to their budget.
Unifying the data you use and what your customers can see will make it easier to provide quality estimates and the most relevant information. Plus, automation tools can capture and provide customer information for your sales teams, simplifying the process of tailoring quotes that specific buyer.
With industry and customer-specific configurability, today’s automation platforms can help you deliver the best offer to each customer and facilitate a sales process better in-line with their (and your) budgets and schedule.
Target customers are rarely ready to buy after their first interaction with you.
They might read about you online or check out a blog post first. Then, you float around in their head until a LinkedIn post ad prompts them again. You may pick up a sale here, or your lead fills out a form and reads reviews. Sometimes, they’ll even wait until you place a cold call or email, or you meet them at a trade show.
Solutions not only should capture leads from your website and online channels as well as incoming phone calls but know how to treat them the same (automatically adding customer details to your database) and when to treat them differently (online sales getting a phone call follow-up vs. email confirmation for your successful sales calls).
All of those efforts, online and offline, also require access to your inventory systems and quotes must be treated the same when a prospect says “yes.” Working across these multiple channels to track and qualify leads is a daunting task, especially in industries where customers want quotes and product combinations that are unique to them.
Generating quotes based on select products or services from a catalog is the first step, but finalizing them is where your solution can help significantly. Automation here gives your targets reliable pricing and faster order fulfillment, which can improve customer service and likelihood of repeat orders.
Sales reps will benefit from a platform that standardized quotes automatically, while providing rules and flexibility for final configuration for leads. Customization is most successful when it understands the customer, so you put your best foot forward when it:
Improve field support through functions that allow reps to input on behalf of customers
Seek out platforms that enable you to control and support special offers easily. Whether you’re giving discounts or free products, it should help you submit quotes with these items, generate a custom approval, and provide the customer a link for online payment and processing. Automatically achieving this can dramatically reduce steps and delays in order generation, making you a more compelling offer to your potential customers.
For an automation platform to be useful, it must work where you need it. In today’s business world, that means still supporting offline lead capture and sales. Look for solutions that can operate even if you’re on the road and there’s no Internet connection or ones that can process capture payment on the phone, processing orders and keeping things moving.
Modern solutions can dynamically shift to an offline lead capture mode that allows your customers or you to fill out forms and make other inputs. Then, it syncs as soon as the connection is back available, automatically working with your central data system to provide order, lead qualification, notes, and more.
Your business likely needs support to process and capture payments on the phone, and then directly process those orders too. It’s a feature to demand from your B2B E-Commerce solution.
Sales can happen anywhere. Automation tools should help you work continuously and without delay regardless of your data connection. It’s a challenge that Forrester has recognized for years, and it’s one that partners like Adrecom have mastered.
Suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, resellers, and many more businesses in the E-Commerce space rely on a wide range of sales channels. Some of those are not managed or run by you, but they still need your data to get pricing and availability correct.
By automating your inventory and quote management system, you can help dealers and sales representatives to create the most accurate quotes available for leads from any channel. With back-end management, your catalog is accessible to these reps and their customers through direct accounts, speeding up sales, and improving the customer service that you and your partners can deliver.
Automating your processes removes steps from each sales opportunity. Plus, you can utilize existing customer accounts to populate information on all channels, minimizing the work the customer needs to do for a purchase. If you’re able to share these details with partners, such as notes on preferred sales techniques or special offers, your partners are better able to maintain long-term relationships with clients.
For you, that boils down to a more natural path to recurring revenue and higher-quality service and support.
For customers, it means a more straightforward way to buy what they need, restock before they run out, and a simple experience where they know what quality to expect. When you’ve made the first successful sale, regardless of channel, you’re better positioned to satisfy that customer and keep them coming back for more.
Maximizing the usefulness of your automation efforts requires a system that can respond to customers as quickly as you find them. For most businesses, this response can happen in your product catalog.
Unfortunately, today’s B2B buyers spend more time by themselves in product catalogs than they do looking for options with the help of your sales team.
So, for dynamic customization to improve your ability to make the sale, it needs to happen automatically. At a basic level, you’ll want to provide search tools around keywords, advanced sorting, and refining, to make large catalogs easy and quick to look through. Grouping products, offering discounts based on an entire quote, noting availability based on location and inventory, and more should all occur while the customer browses. If they have to wait for your team to respond to forms, emails, or calls, you could potentially be days behind any competitor who automates this information delivery.
Built-in product configuration and kitting on the fly are possible with systems like Adrecom’s Multi-Channel e-Commerce Automation solution. It’s how your customer wants you to respond when they have a specific need or want a custom fit. Plus, if you’re able to keep them supplied for longer at a more affordable rate, there’s little reason for them to start comparison shopping.
Don’t let quality leads turn stale. Reinforce your sales team with quality software and solutions designed to operate across any channel the customer wants to use. Learn more and then get your dynamic quote by talking to Adrecom on whichever channel you prefer.