If you’re like most B2B organizations beginning the transformation to digital commerce, there’s often a certain level of fear that a strong online presence is going to create a conflict with the sales team. Introducing digital commerce at your organization doesn’t have to be the elephant in the room with regard to the changing role of the sales department.

Shifting role of the sales team

The sales department tends to feel the impact of digital transformation the soonest in the form of purchase channel shift. In particular, a shift from the customer talking to a salesperson on the phone or meeting in person, to making purchasing decisions and completing transactions themselves online via a self-service portal. It’s no surprise that this is an impact of digital commerce that can cause a lot of concern for the sales team at the onset of the eCommerce planning phase. As their customers eventually start to do product research online and increasingly buy online as a natural progression, salespeople feel this foreseen shift as something that may seem like an internal competitive force working against them.

New tools for the sales team

The new eCommerce system will in fact provide the sales team with new tools to make their jobs easier, giving salespeople more time to focus on building accounts rather than doing a lot of the day-to-day maintenance.  In fact, it’s common for companies to use their eCommerce website infrastructure to actually support their field sales reps, who may have new abilities to configure price quote tools on the go using tablet devices, for example, to greatly enhance meetings with their customers. Learn about sales enablement tools that connect commerce and data >

It can further enrich their accounts, when by the time they meet their customers, those customers have already researched products on the website, know what they want to order, and are better prepared to discuss their needs. The powerful search capabilities of an eCommerce system also will help them during customer phone conversations, meetings and presentations — a nice alternative to searching for product information in a clunky ERP system.

Sales team as early B2B eCommerce stakeholder

Include the sales team as a stakeholder early in the planning process to dispel any myths that the digital channel is something that will be competitive internally. Assure them that they won’t lose anything by embracing an eCommerce channel. Demonstrate to them that eCommerce will help free them up so they can give more attention to their best customers and increase the customer base. eCommerce will become a tool that will support them and make their jobs easier, rather than something that’s competitive. Lastly, provide a compensation system that ensures they are not penalized by the digital channel, and are in fact rewarded for helping steer business through the new channel.

Learn more about B2B eCommerce solutions, strategy and methodology, and how to prepare your organization for digital transformation: