As a professional sales agency, our customers span the full spectrum when it comes to adapting to the new available technologies. Within our industry, there are still customers that fax in hand-written purchase orders, while others are fully involved in vendor managed inventory. We have customers that still require binders and catalogs, and others that can’t stand to have any paper on their desks and demand that transactions be communicated electronically.
So, to make sure we cater to the needs of all our customers, we mirror our technology efforts to each customer individually. We ride the wave and try to stay near the crest so we can offer the latest in technologies that our customers require. We do not get too far in front, nor do we get too far behind.
To stick with the surfing analogy, the risk of this situation occurs when the wave collapses or diminishes and the momentum subsides. This could translate to a major e-commerce competitor entering the market from outside our industry that adversely affects our distribution partners. All of sudden, our investment in technology is inadequate and our concept of mirroring is sunk. We do not have the capital to invest in a completely new system to continue to drive demand and compete against a dominant electronic B2B player. When our momentum stalls, we are left on the beach holding our board.
While that may be an extreme example, I do believe we should be mindful of B2B trends, customer preferences and technology that exists outside of our own industry. As salespeople, the way we drive demand today could be vastly different tomorrow. Is it AI, voice, mobile, Internet of things, VR, social media? Or something else that has yet to be launched?
There is one investment I think is important to make right now. It’s how to manage data. By data, I mean all the intellectual property you have as a sales company – the contacts, addresses, buying habits, ordering patterns, product mix, likes/dislikes. It’s virtually all the tribal knowledge we have gained over the years about our customers. Our value comes in capturing all that data, knowing how to use it, and being able to leverage it. Our CRM started out being a fun tool. Now it has become our lifeblood.
How are you leveraging your data?
Reach out to our team, we’d love to hear how your company utilizes technology.