Over the last few years studies have shown varying statistics in terms of the amount of time outside salespeople actually spend selling. Some research has shown that reps may spend as little as a third of their time prospecting, meeting with customers and closings deals. One 2013 study showed that the average salesperson spent less than 15% of their time engaging with customers. These are frightening numbers, particularly for specialty manufacturers with hundreds of customized products and a complex environment of indirect and direct sales.
Whatever the exact number we know that on average indirect and direct sales teams are spending more than 50% of their time on administrative activities, often buried in emails trying to get their jobs done. For specialty manufacturers this often includes frustrating requests for special pricing and product information, failed attempts to create unique catalogs or presentations, and even multiple requests for help to access simple product information. The lack of a strong, unified commerce environment has created a literal maze of information through which sales must navigate every day.
For many experts, the answer lies within sales enablement solutions. What we’ve observed at Insite, however, is that these solutions often only enable the sales maze, they don’t necessarily increase seller productivity. In the complex world of specialty manufacturing, the only answer is a unified commerce solution with a mobile-ready sales portal. We’ve got to remove the sales maze, not support it with more technology.
In order to truly increase outside sales productivity, the solution must exhibit the following characteristics:
- Readily available and easily customized pricing and promotion information. Removing the need for multiple email requests and long waits for pricing approvals gives sales more valuable time to actually The right ecommerce solution will eliminate manual adjustments for special pricing and sales promotions, accelerating the timeline from identifying a lead to closing the business.
- One login for every sales need. Navigating the current sales maze means visiting multiple sites and platforms to gather all the information necessary to make that sale, from finding the right drawing, to creating a proposal, to requests for quotes. A unified commerce experience gives sales a single point to access to everything they might need to do their job, including prioritization of requests for information.
- Tools that provide mobile AND offline access to content. Specialty manufacturers often employ older, homegrown sales portals with outdated technology. Today’s sales environments require immediate access, the need to customize content, and a single sign-on for sales. These older tools simply don’t have the capability required to be competitive in our current marketplace nor can they be easily integrated with other internal and external software.
- Integration with ERP, CRM and other enterprise applications. The relentless search for information is not the only factor contributing to the sales maze. Outside sales teams are inundated with requirements to update the rest of the organization on their activity. A unified commerce solution provides integration to these systems, freeing more time to be spent selling.
- Easily customized content. In a recent Experian study, those who perceived that supplier content could be tailored to their unique needs were 40% more likely to buy from that supplier. For specialty manufacturers this must include the ability to create custom catalogs and presentations quickly and easily.
Gartner Research reports that in 2017 89% of marketers expect customer experience to be the primary differentiator of goods and services. And yet the gap between what marketing creates and what outside sales actually uses is still huge. The right access combined with the right content increases sales adoption of relevant, timely information that can help drive sales, reinforce the brand and create a superior experience for outside sales, channel partners and even direct customers.
At Insite, our goal is not to enable the sales maze, or even to reduce its twists and turns. We’re proving that it can be eliminated altogether by using a mobile-ready sales portal within a unified commerce environment.