A mobile phone has become so integral to our daily existence that most of us can’t imagine life without it. Similarly, once sales reps experience how technology can make them better at what they do, they won’t want to go back to the old ways.
With the right technology, sales teams can produce better results — for the customers, the sales reps and your bottom line. Technology won’t take over your sales team’s jobs. In fact, sales teams can be more effective when they use technology because it can improve the customer experience.
Here are three ways technology makes sales reps better:
Improves Response Time for B2B Sales Teams
Technology can improve the response time for distribution industry sales reps. According to a McKinsey survey, a slow response time is a buyer’s biggest complaint for 40% of respondents, surpassing pricing issues by 21%. So, with a warehouse full of SKUs, how can your sales team be an expert and promptly answer customer queries about every product you carry? They can’t.
But AI can help.
For example, when your customer asks a sales rep about product details, specs and comparable private-label alternatives, an AI-powered semantic search of sell sheets, product descriptions and attribute data can arm them with the information they need to answer questions such as these in under 20 seconds. Without the assistance of AI, sales reps would be at the mercy of the manufacturer’s rep to get back to them or even Google to find the answers.
As they feverishly try to get the answer, valuable time ticks away and the customer’s patience wanes. If the response time doesn’t meet the customer’s expectations, they may even head over to your competitor for quicker resolution and you could lose the sale.
With AI supporting your sales team, your sales rep’s reputation is bolstered for having the right information the customer needs to make a buying decision and your customer gets the product they need when they need it.
A win-win-win situation for your sales rep, your customer and your company.
Frees Them from Low-Value Tasks
While 85% of B2B buyers prefer digital when purchasing the same product or service, 76% percent want to consult with a human when buying a completely new product or service, according to McKinsey & Company. B2B buyers expect quick access to information and self-service digital options. When customers can take care of simple transactions on their own, it frees up your salesforce for more strategic endeavors and to improve responsiveness for high-value customers when they need that personal touch.
Technology clears low-value tasks away to allow your sales team more time to focus on what they do best – provide that personal touch.
Provides a More Complete View of Customers’ Buying Behaviors
Technology can aggregate and analyze customer data from all sales channels faster and more accurately than sales reps can. Fueled by buying and shopping data from inside sales, outside sales, ecommerce, customer service, marketing and counter sales, AI-powered tools can provide your team with information they can use when it’s most useful. This includes predictions about what each customer will buy, and when and where they will buy it.
One application of this is with product recommendations. When a customer calls, your inside sales team can see the customer’s order history, along with information about what other complementary products might support that customer based on purchase history. Not only can your sales reps complete the sale for what the customer needed but they can also easily upsell and cross-sell.
Not only does this make your sales and service teams more successful, it can boost your customer satisfaction by helping customers succeed, as well.
Over time AI gets smarter with its predictions as more customer data is acquired and analyzed.
According to the ebook, “The Future of Sales,” Gartner expects that by 2025 80% of B2B sales will occur in digital channels. The digital aspect of business will continue to grow, but it will be people using technology that will truly unlock its business potential.
Distributors must continue to invest in technology such as AI to enable their knowledgeable and experienced sales reps in creating a seamless omnichannel experience for customers.
Benj Cohen founded Proton.ai, a growth engine for distributors. His company’s mission is to help distributors harness cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI) to drive increased sales. Benj learned about distribution firsthand at Benco Dental, a family business started by his great grandfather. He graduated Harvard University with a degree in Applied Math, and speaks regularly at industry events on the benefits of AI for distributors. Benj has been featured in trade publications including MDM, Industrial Distribution, and Industrial Supply Magazine. His company, Proton.ai, announced a $20 million Series A round of funding in 2022, led by Felicis Ventures.