Lightning-fast digitization in the electrical industry - Digital Forum of Industry 2020 (Part 3)

A look back at our Digital[IN] - Digital Forum der Industrie 2020. The hour of the electrical industry.
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Digitize successfully? The electronics industry in Germany is a step ahead of some in this respect. For example, more and more companies rely on system solutions, with which the company not only secures a unique selling point, but also strengthens customer loyalty. The year 2020 brought some challenges with it, especially when it came to lead generation. The topics at Digital [IN] were which sales approaches and alternatives to analogue sales talks are now in demand and what strengths digitization has.

1. Sell system solutions digitally and globally - data-driven. Successful. Scalable.

"B2b sales is broken" is the steep thesis of Carsten Dolch, the CTO of FoxBase. In his keynote “Selling system solutions digitally and globally - data-driven. Successful. Scalable. ”With his thesis, he alludes to traditional sales in the analogue business. Earlier business models are difficult to implement today. Carsten Dolch explains why this is so using a simple example: A few years ago it was sufficient to use the product advantages and differentiations from other companies as a sales argument in order to highlight one's own competitive advantage. And today? Today, potential customers can find out more information and compare products with one another. What follows from this is that B2B sales people are having great problems increasing their sales, especially at the moment, because the reasons for buying from earlier no longer apply. Much higher market competition and the increase in sales channels that are no longer limited to analog door-to-door salespeople make it extremely difficult for sales to convince potential customers of their product. In addition, the system landscape has become much more complex. Without their own IT department, it is therefore becoming increasingly difficult for companies to keep up. So new and digital sales approaches are needed. Using system solutions as an example, Carsten Dolch outlines how companies can make use of digitization to leave their competitors behind.

Strengthen customer loyalty through system solutions

One way that some, but still few companies in the electrical industry have opted for is the way to the system solution. As a unique selling point, they no longer just sell products, but systems. The goal: added value and better customer loyalty. Not only is a product sold once, which can possibly also be bought in a similar quality from another provider, but also the company's own service. A positive effect that companies achieve is the strengthening of customer loyalty. In other words: your own hardware is equipped with its own software. This means that you cannot be copied by others, you gain more leeway in pricing, strengthen the customer relationship and receive valuable data in order to continuously develop your own product. An all-round smart matter. But what does it take for such a smart product to sell it successfully?

Successful sales approach when introducing system solutions

After the development and introduction of the new system solution, a sensible sales approach and marketing are required, which explain that no more products but systems are sold. For a successful rollout, it is important that sales are supported. On the one hand, it is a challenge for the sales employee to familiarize themselves with the new system and, on the other hand, the customer needs more support in putting together the right system, especially at the beginning. A self-service portal is a solution that makes sense for both parties. A solution based on data. Modern sales approaches can no longer avoid working without data, or it would be a major disadvantage compared to the competition. The usable information does not have to be personal data. No, just the opposite. It is much more interesting for companies to be able to recognize trends early on using the stored, non-personalized information. “Data”, says Carsten Dolch, “should be seen as the blood of digitization. If the system is poor in blood, it cannot work efficiently. "

Best practice using the example of ifm

To illustrate, it shows the ifm Selector for the right all-round protection for fans, i.e. system solutions. Although ifm has a very good supply chain, they were able to identify problems in sales and customer service. System solutions such as those from ifm require a lot of explanation, which poses numerous challenges for sales. ifm decided with the Digital Product Selector from FoxBase, a software solution for digitizing sales. The goal: A web interface for customers and sales staff to find the right system solution quickly and easily. The whole thing was finally implemented as a cloud service. Using the digital product selector, a needs analysis is used to calculate a suitable recommendation, which is then passed on to the shop. The software solution is used by both customers and sales, because the website is also an important source of information for employees. The ifm selector is now active in various languages.

The role of data in digitization

In the end, everything always works in cycles. An informative website, for example, not only supports the customer, but also your own employees and is therefore an important part of a good sales approach. With the software solution from FoxBase Not only are sales employees and customers supported, but ifm also receives exciting insights into market trends and customer behavior, which enables further optimization in order to react quickly to changes in the market. In order to sell system solutions successfully and worldwide, it is helpful to understand customer requirements, collect data, understand buying behavior and use the full potential in terms of transparency. The quantitative feedback makes it possible to optimize product development in order to be on the market faster. The end result of digitization ultimately leads to a high quality of the request. Digitization can be a very long process. Solutions such as the Digital Product Selector can be implemented quickly, but do not cover all company processes. How B2B companies are currently dealing with marketing and sales and which sales approaches are in demand in 2020 was the topic of the following panel discussion.

2. Marketing and sales are just blowing the fuses? How companies compensate for the elimination of trade fairs and which sales approaches are now in demand.

In 2020, B2B companies face major challenges. The analog sales talk no longer takes place and lead qualification is becoming increasingly difficult. In our panel discussion we asked: “Marketing and sales are currently blowing their fuses? How companies compensate for the elimination of trade fairs and which sales approaches are now in demand. ”Robert Jänisch von IOX discussed the challenges (or maybe also opportunities?) of digitization in 2020 together with Thomas Güld von SMARTS engineering, Thomas Hollwedel from aconno and Martin Veitleder from Zeppelin Systems.

Corona as a fire accelerator in digitization?

"What has changed the most for you? Is Corona a fire accelerator?” are the central questions of the discussion. Yes and no, so the answers. The advantages are obvious: Digitization simplifies sales by making business trips superfluous, and sales apps make it possible to have all relevant information about the product portfolio and customers quickly at hand. Nevertheless, the elimination of trade fairs is noticeable, because lead acquisition has decreased significantly. A good pipeline and lead database from the past year is worth its weight in gold, especially for smaller companies. In addition, sales approaches have to be rethought, because analogue customer discussions hardly take place anymore. The alternative of being able to hold meetings via web conferences is a great option, but it also has its limits, because conveying the competencies of your company via video is more difficult than at trade fairs. So it takes more persuasion. On the other hand, conversations take place much faster on the first-name basis, because after all, people talk more often in the home office and thus share personal insights into the private home.

Online content and networking are more important than ever

But how can companies compensate for the elimination of trade fairs? The panel discussion participants agree on one thing: Sales is more oriented towards marketing. Everything is happening online this year. What helps now is primarily online content and an informative and attractive website. Potential customers are increasingly looking for solutions online, which is also evident in the increase in inquiries via their own company website. But networking is also taking on a whole new meaning and importance - not only with customers, but also with industrial partners. There is more focus on customer loyalty, because today you no longer want to sell your product, but also want to know that your "Product 2.0" has been sold directly. A “good partnership”, as Thomas Güld calls it, ultimately helps both of them.

Which sales approaches in the electrical industry are future-oriented

The current situation brings both joy and sorrow to the electronics industry. On the one hand, customers are withdrawing orders and, on the other hand, more money is flowing. Never before has it been so urgent to be able to capture data digitally. Digital solutions are creating added value right now, because they help to work faster, more focused and customer-specific - even from the home office. The discussion once again made it clear that traditional sales approaches need to be reconsidered. At the end of the panel discussion, Robert Jänisch poses the question: "Sales in the future means for me...?"

Thomas Hollwedel: "... more digital, but also more personal communication and more targeted offers."

Martin Veitleder: "... for me as a sales representative, the customer spares the paper basket, he gets what he wants, proper reports and documents and there is no data garbage in his mailbox."

Thomas Güld: "... completely paperless and a shorter sales cycle from the inquiry to the offer and project handling."

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