Sales 4.0 – How digitalization is changing sales

Selling is no longer what it used to be. Sales is changing: Cold calls and lengthy sales conversations have long been a thing of the past. Processes are becoming increasingly networked, technologized and tool-driven. For sales teams, this means adapting to the new environment and finding new ways to ensure sales success in the digital age for the long term.erkaufen is no longer what it used to be. Sales is changing: cold calls and lengthy sales conversations have long been a thing of the past. Processes are becoming increasingly networked, technologized and tool-driven. For sales teams, this means adapting to the new conditions and finding new ways to ensure long-term sales success in the digital age.

Wie Digitalisierung den Vertrieb verändert

How is sales changing in the context of digitization?

Do you still remember sales in the 70s? At that time, all customer communication took place via telephone or through the mail. Address research and prospecting was done via printed business directories or physically scouting new business parks. All this is hardly imaginable today. When the new means of communication became more and more prevalent in the 1980s and 1990s, the way sales worked changed fundamentally. Since then, sales has been in a constant state of flux – shaped by the general conditions and technological innovations.

Today, in the age of increasing digitalization, new technologies are constantly shaping how we work everywhere. Processes must be constantly rethought and optimized in order to survive in the face of change. In addition, in the context of so-called “Sales 4.0”, the balance of power is increasingly shifting to the side of the customer. This is due to the fact that customer expectations have fundamentally changed: What is familiar from the B2C sector is now also demanded in B2B: Independence, transparency, overview and self-services. Purchasing decisions are increasingly being made at the push of a button. Customers expect a personalized approach and the right information in the right place at the right time. The points of contact with the customer are becoming more diverse and more digital. This requires the right customer relationship management tools to keep track of all information and to address contacts at the right time via the right channel.

What does this mean for sales?

  • Use the right digital tools to support your sales activities

    As a general rule, digital tools should support you in your day-to-day activities as easily and efficiently as possible. The classic CRM system is the most common tool that supports sales in managing customer relationships. With an integrated Lead Cockpit, you can also keep track of your prospects and leads at all times. But other tools are also indispensable. Communication basically takes place by mail and meetings usually take place online. An Outlook AddIn enables you to get a 360° view of the customer within Outlook and to trigger actions, such as creating a new offer or filing the mail in the right place, directly from Microsoft Outlook. In addition, the integration of third-party systems within the sales processes is also crucial in order to ensure sales success in the long term and to avoid the tedious search for information in a wide variety of systems. Therefore, it makes sense to integrate third-party systems, such as business intelligence, configuration platforms, into the CRM in a process-oriented manner. In this way, you have clear access to all information on one interface.

  • Never underestimate the personal bond

    The role of the salesperson is increasingly changing into that of a consultant. This requires in-depth technical and industry knowledge as well as strong presentation skills – these are important prerequisites for convincing the prospect and retaining the customer in the long term. A trusting customer relationship is the basis for this. After all, despite digitization, technology and online meetings, building personal relationships is essential. In the end, people buy from people, and the relationship between the salesperson and the customer is crucial.

  • Automate your lead process

    Lead generation is an important success factor in sales. Unfortunately, many steps are still carried out manually by many companies today: this leads to inaccuracies, errors and often to problems between the marketing and sales departments. However, if a marketing automation solution is used, the lead generation and qualification processes can be digitally mapped and largely automated. For example, when a person downloads a white paper and enters their data in the form, a data record is automatically created, which is further enriched and qualified with every action the person takes. Once a certain scoring value is reached, the lead is automatically transferred to the sales department and can be processed further. A win-win situation for everyone involved.

  • Give the customer the option of self-service

    As customer expectations change, it is becoming increasingly important to involve customers in processes and offer them complete transparency. In this respect, a customer portal that provides the customer with all the information that is relevant to him provides support: In addition to viewing his own history, such as quotations, orders and invoices, manuals and product-specific content can also be offered. But an integrated web store can also be an important component of a self-service customer portal. The point here is not only that the customer can view this information, but also that he can take action himself. For example, after-sales processes can be fully mapped and customers can order products or spare parts, or complaints and service messages can be easily created. In addition, the customer always has an overview of the status of his inquiries.

In addition to these, there are many other approaches to advancing sales in the context of digitization and preparing for the tasks of the future. Learn more tips & tricks in our podcast episode. It’s worth listening in:

About the author

Robin Hartmann
Robin HartmannHead of Modern Work and Business Intelligence itmX GmbH
As Head of Modern Work and Business Intelligence, Robin is responsible for optimising our customers‘ processes and helping them to position themselves for future challenges. As a creative mind, he is primarily driven by innovation topics. Due to his proximity to the customer, he experiences the real business requirements first-hand and enjoys driving them forward together with our customers.