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The digital status quo of industry - Digital Forum of Industry 2020 (Part 1)

A look back at our Digital [IN] - Digital Forum of Industry 2020. The hour of industry.
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The first Industry Digital Forum 2020 is over. Madness. We look back satisfied and relieved. The focus was on the exchange of digital strategies in B2B - and our speakers and viewers more than lived up to that. The program was varied, informative and entertaining. Digital chocolate manufacturing was discussed as best practice and tips were given on what B2B can learn from B2C. For everyone who missed our Digital Forum der Industrie (Digital [IN] for short), we have a look back with the most important take-aways. The first part is about the digital status quo of the industry.

1. The future of B2B sales - What B2B can learn from B2C

The prelude was Andreas Liedtke from the Boston Consulting Group with his keynote "The future of B2B sales - What B2B can learn from B2C". Sales are particularly important in B2B. Due to digitization, however, the areas of responsibility of sales are shifting more and more towards marketing. Lead qualification now takes place mainly through digital sales channels. B2B can learn a lot from B2C in this regard. B2C, as the name implies, is closer to the customer, not only with the goods, but also in marketing and sales. In his keynote, Andreas Liedtke illustrates various digital sales channels with regard to the benefits and degree of digitization of a company and finally gives an outlook on sustainable digital strategies in B2B. He derives the sales channels from B2C.

The line between marketing and sales has shifted

Sales employees are of fundamental importance in B2B, but the traditional sales funnel has become obsolete. Companies are required to adapt to the new structures due to digitization. Today, the customer journey begins online across all areas and industries. Inbound marketing has become an integral part of the sales process. Tasks such as addressing potential customers, which a few years ago were part of traditional sales, are now part of marketing. As a result, marketing and sales are working more closely together.

Important measures for lead generation

Acquiring new customers is therefore the task of digital marketing. This also includes increasing visibility online. This includes tasks such as SEA, SEO, social media, online events, content on demand and much more. Digital self-service has also gained in importance. Just like B2C customers, B2B customers want to be able to research information and buy products on their own. An appealing website as well as attractive products provide significant support in lead qualification. After all, the majority of sales employees only come into action when the customer has already expressed interest. And most of the sales are now only digital. Inside sales enables significantly more conversations to be held in one day than face-to-face sales. Andreas Liedtke emphasizes the advantages of working with software solutions in B2B sales that enable insights into data. With the newly acquired knowledge, for example where the lead came from (social media, webinar, Google etc.) or how often he has already visited the website, it helps the sales employee to better classify them as cool, general or hot leads.

Mastering the digitalization challenge of B2B companies

For B2B companies, the greatest challenge on the World Wide Web is to be perceived. Only about 5 % of the content (blog posts, social media postings, Google Ads, etc.) is shown to a person from the network at the end of the day. This means a lot of effort in marketing, but it pays off because many companies cannot be found online because they invest too few resources in marketing. Hence Andreas Liedtke's tip to use as many channels as possible and enter the race with a clear set of keywords. A look at the marketing and sales of successful B2C companies can be very instructive! The use of digital tools is also becoming increasingly important in order to survive the competition. Marketing automations can make work a lot easier, but are only worthwhile if appropriate resources (HR) are used.

2. Digital chocolate manufacture - the path of a medium-sized company into the digital future

Approach digital strategies in B2B correctly

Sebastian Gieschen's tip right at the beginning: When it comes to digitizing corporate processes, it always makes sense to start with a quick check, i.e. how the IT network is already set up in the company. This results in the first points of contact for a sustainable digital strategy in B2B and a new digital infrastructure. Sebastian Gieschen experiences time and again in his work that many are not aware that IT does not always mean EDP. A sustainable system is well thought out, which is why it is valuable to find a good partner for implementation.

Best Practice: A traditional company digitized

Leysieffer Like many companies this year, it was encouraged to break new ground in order to master the Corona crisis. Therefore, the long-established company finally decided its infrastructure together P3 to digitize. The aim was to increase sales despite the lockdown and to simplify internal processes. To ensure that it was for P3 important to choose systems that interact with each other. This means filtering out interfaces between the various departments and merging data. Sebastian Gieschen and his team implemented a mix of different services that can communicate with each other in order to ultimately build a uniform infrastructure. With the new infrastructure, reports can now be created very easily and feedback from the warehouse is automatically forwarded to the relevant departments on the basis of an ERP system. The business processes have also been optimized in that the company now works with a standardized database, which means that sales can quickly access all relevant information.

How the digitization of a B2B company affects sales

In the end, with such far-reaching decisions, the question of how the whole thing affects sales always plays an important role. In this case, the long-established company was able to quickly record positive figures: After just a few months, the luxury manufactory recorded an increase in sales of 400 %. The reasons for this include the online shop that was created in the course of the company's digitalization and the modernization of B2B sales. Sebastian Gieschen names four approaches across industries to optimize B2B sales of traditional companies: 1) Strengthen resellers by actively using sales channels. 2) Push B2B products more, eg giving away new, creative products to B2B customers. 3) Expand the B2B network using the existing network. 4) Connection to eProcurement platforms.

The hardest thing is that everything works in an overall system

Sebastian Gieschen's conclusion: Finding future-oriented solutions is not too complicated, but these should always be considered in the overall system. In order to achieve a sustainable impact, it is therefore important that the various services have interfaces with one another and thus result in a functioning infrastructure. Cooperation partners can help to find the right overall solution and to implement it successfully. Approaching digital strategies in B2B with a good partner is always advisable.

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