Determining Readiness for eCommerce: Evaluating Your Sales Operations Management Strategy
B2B eCommerce requires an organized sales structure that can adequately manage the intricacies of each step of the selling process. Identifying the current team members’ ability to add a digital sales channel approach is paramount. Consider what strengths and weaknesses team members have, and how you can rewrite their existing processes to accommodate a digital storefront.
In evaluating these criteria, we want to understand management’s ability to shift from a traditional traveling-salesperson-and-call-center approach to a digital sales channel. Managers want to know what skillsets current team members have, how data is utilized to make business decisions, and how easily can business processes be rewritten to include the added management of a digital storefront. We consider all of these factors when creating the sales operations management review.
Alignment Across an Organization
Gaining alignment across the organization is key to effectively implementing your new strategy. Without an effective structure that incorporates the various assets of your business, any eCommerce initiative will inevitably fail.
It’s also important to examine the leadership structure within your organization before you adopt an eCommerce platform. Identifying the areas which must be addressed to gain complete alignment is a primary objective of an eCommerce readiness assessment. Examining how existing business practices promote alignment, engagement, and ultimately productivity will set a benchmark to determine what changes should be addressed before entering eCommerce.
Existing Strategies to Manage Alignment
Leadership should actively promote and foster alignment amongst team members to maintain effectiveness for sales operations. Strategies to manage alignment are largely dependent upon the organization, but ultimately, they are in place to achieve one goal: getting everyone on the same page.
Incentivization structures that promote sales team alignment by offering a commission for all sales can aid in this transition. This cohesion is especially important because once an organization enters eCommerce, the sales team will be selling alongside the digital storefront.
Examining Your Sales Structure
An organization will need to examine its sales structure to fully understand what improvements the team must make before entering eCommerce. Strategies for maintaining customers, capturing reorders, and understanding product maintenance cycles have been accomplished through the use of product warranties in the past because the warranty is the only piece of information tying the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to the buyer. However, eCommerce can provide invaluable information to sales teams that they had previously been unable to attain.
Utilization of Metrics and Goals
The metrics available through eCommerce can be overwhelming, but it’s important that leadership is capable of identifying how to use the information effectively. For example, sales teams can utilize metrics from eCommerce to identify products that are in demand and actively upsell those products to other customers.
Aftermarket Parts Strategy
An OEM needs to be capable of strategically planning its aftermarket strategy. Establishing an eCommerce presence and moving towards a direct-to-consumer approach will allow them to remain competitive, but, in order to be successful, your organization must understand competitor products in relation to pricing structure and profit margins.
Forecasting Maintenance and Repairs
The product and sales team should already be forecasting product maintenance cycles, but eCommerce will allow them to do so much more. eCommerce will allow inventory teams to recognize how many and which parts should be available for purchase. If a sales team is not efficiently using the limited information that they currently have, it is unlikely that they will be able to utilize the additional information and analytics provided by eCommerce. An important consideration is determining how effectively the team is utilizing the information they have access to.
Examining Pricing Structure Practices
It’s important to take note of competitor practices and pricing, ensuring that your firm can sustain its current market share. Through this practice, your team will be better able to adjust their pricing structures as needed. This strategy includes leveraging proprietary products and information to command a higher margin as well.
Standard Operating Procedures
In order for any eCommerce offering to be successful, it’s important to have a strong foundation. Sales teams should be capable of using the information they have to onboard new customers and capture reorders from existing customers.
The introduction of eCommerce will allow sales teams to be even more proactive due to the addition of the valuable metrics it can provide. However, the impact that this information can have on an organization’s aftermarket strategy is largely determined by the leadership’s ability to utilize it properly. Conducting an eCommerce readiness assessment will allow you to understand the areas of your sales structure that will need to be addressed in order to move toward a digital storefront.