Building a Sales Portal That Works for Manufacturers

Building a Sales Portal That Works for Manufacturers
September 29, 2016 Insite Software

1475206491_manufacturingMany specialty and finished goods manufacturers have a self-service portal today, but they are custom solutions, don’t manage content well, expensive to maintain and may or may not be used by your sales force. Sales portals give your direct and indirect sales teams online data access and online ordering capability critical to their continued relationship with your business, as long as that sales portal is built and designed with a rich feature set that supports your business.

Business and commerce software providers and partners will try to deliver a manufacturing sales portal solution using an out-of-the-box software product optimized for either managing sales teams, simple commerce transactions and product information, or the reverse – a highly-customized software solution that is impossible to maintain. The right B2B eCommerce solution will allow you to build a flexible and scalable sales portal for the long-term. Here are a few keys to making sure your sales portal is built to last.

Mobile-ready sales content and product information both online and offline
A mobile-ready sales portal with relevant content and product information is key to increasing seller productivity and reducing cost-to-serve, allowing you to focus on the largest opportunities to drive revenue.

  • Custom Catalog – Make selling your products easier by presenting only the products the seller is are able to sell, and not overloading them with your entire catalog.
  • Transparent Pricing – Transparent pricing is critical to completing commerce online, and a foundational part of your digital catalog. Transparent pricing includes negotiated pricing, and margin details. Once pricing is established, your commerce platform should integrate with your ERP to display customer-specific pricing and associated margins, allowing you to promote higher margin products to your sellers.
  • Mobile Optimized Portals – It’s not just about being able to access a responsive version of your portal on a mobile device. Your portal should offer a seller experience that is optimized, and easy to use for that device, leveraging mobile design heuristics and capabilities as it makes sense.
  • Offline Content Access – A truly “mobile” sales portal supports the situation where the rep is preparing for their sales presentation in their car, and then presenting in a restaurant. They may or may not have online access, breaking the whole concept of “mobile”. It’s critical that their sales portal offers the ability to store and deliver content offline. Offline content availability could also be used to deliver syndicated training and guided selling content via a single sign-on.

Fully-integrated and convenient commerce
Direct and indirect sellers will sell more of your products if you are easy to do business with, and a fully-integrated commerce solution is key.

  • Inline Commerce – The most effective digital catalog extends to offer the ability to purchase as part of the sales presentation and/or customer research activity. Since your sellers are on your site, make commerce convenient, converting them while they are there.
  • Quoting and Communication Interface – The majority of your transactions will include pricing negotiation, and your sales portal has to offer the ability to quote and reprice as part of the commerce workflow. As a result, your portal must also offer a way to communicate between you and your sellers.
  • Product Configurator – Manufacturers, in general, rarely sell a simple, commoditized product, and instead sell highly-configured and/or customized solutions. Your sales portal should allow your sellers to configure and price the product to meet their needs, and extend to allow them to buy.
  • Product Availability – Unlike distribution where products are typically in – or out of stock, in specialty and finished goods manufacturing, the product may be built to order, carry a lead time or backordered. Is important that your commerce solution offer inventory messaging that adapts to your business.

Grow your business by giving your direct and indirect sales teams a single location to do both content and commerce, making it easier to do business with you, and building loyalty for the long term.

Insite offers a fully-integrated content and commerce solution to meet the needs of both specialty and finished goods manufacturers. To learn more, request a demo today.

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