A 2020 survey by Business2Community found that in the immediate aftermath of the lockdowns, there was a drop of 73.9% in sales opportunities. The same survey found that 65.2% of sales professionals lost deals they had during this time. Over 50% of those surveyed said that the postponement of purchasing decisions was a key factor contributing to these losses.
In another survey Mckinsey launched in the second half of 2020 of B2B businesses spanning 11 countries, covering seven sectors, and 14 spend categories, the goal was to see how customers and sellers were reacting to the changes in business operations brought about by the pandemic. One of the key findings was the increased thrust on digital interactions. The survey found that over 48% and 49% of B2B clients preferred remote interactions when scouting for new suppliers and while evaluating them respectively. Around 44% and 46% preferred remote methods for ordering and reordering respectively. While these figures demonstrate where things stood as of the third quarter of 2020, the focus now continues to be on going digital. Another Mckinsey global survey this time in 2021 of 2500 B2B companies on what drives sales-growth outperformance found that 81% of the outperformers have an analytics center of excellence at the core of their functioning. These companies are projected to have as much as 1.4 times the potential to perform better than others.
Here is a look at what changes have come into the B2B customer requirements:
Customers Prefer Better Control Over Purchases: B2B customers are increasingly expecting a blend of digital and human interactions for all of their transactions. A Mckinsey survey titled Covid-19 B2B Decision-Maker Pulse released towards the end of 2020 found that up to 32% of B2B buyers were willing to make purchases worth $50,000 to $500,000 through complete digital self-service and via remote human interaction. As high as 15% were willing to make transactions of over $1 million in value. Such integrated offerings are not easy to provide, but B2B companies are making an effort in this direction.
Personalization in B2B Services: Personalization of services has long been the purview of B2C transactions, and now there is an increase in demand for such customization for the specific challenges B2B customers face. Hyper-segmentation of customers based on analysis of customer data is one way of dealing with this need. Clients with higher customization needs can be prioritized and be offered more personal interaction, while other B2B clients can be handled with hybrid offerings.
An Expectation of B2C Offerings: E-commerce, which was earlier a fundamental requirement of B2C transactions, is increasingly finding takers in B2B clients. With customers looking for new purchase routes, B2B companies have increased their E-commerce presence. An additional trend observed is the offering of deals – from discounts to packages to short-term sales promotions, etc. Historically, these have not been part of the B2B sales arsenal, but now there is an increase in demand for them.
With such changes in customer requirements, the B2B universe has had to evolve rapidly while keeping an eye on its bottom line.
Digital Solutions to Enhance B2B Customer Experiences
A shift to a digitally-led selling experience helps B2B organizations in multiple ways. They engage better with customers, lower their sales costs, and ensure revenue growth. To enable this, companies have to invest in sales teams and the sales infrastructure. The role of marketing teams has to evolve in this process of digitalization. Besides lead generation, the marketing team’s involvement in post-sales processes is necessary now. Sales and marketing teams can work together with the right digital solutions in four ways. (Source: Deloitte’s Thrive in the Future of Sales report.
Increase Real-Time Interaction
B2B buyers expect real-time interaction with their vendors across the entire purchase journey. Customization becomes key to conversions. It also means that companies will increasingly see the lines separating various departments of marketing, sales, service, and production blur. Some strategies include having a virtual-first capability for every stage of the cycle, reorganizing work models to align better with the virtual-first approach, a unified database to support a seamless customer experience, and re-assigning personnel to channels that require scaling up.
Focusing on Partner Ecosystems
Especially for organizations that derive maximum sales from partner relationships, it is important to nurture partner ecosystems. To do this, companies can look at bringing in the ecosystem professionals who specialize in post-sales services, offering better incentives to align partner roles to specific aspects of the customer journey and providing customers and partners with the same level of transparency.
Embedding Digital Presence for Increased Value to Customers
At every stage of the customer journey, companies should ideally embed a digital presence to enhance transparency. This gives the customers a better value, as the company becomes more accessible to clients looking to accelerate transaction speeds and improve customer service.
Harnessing the Power of Analytics in Sales
Sales analytics have been a part of the process inspite of longstanding problems of data quality, governance, and other challenges. When implementing a virtual-first approach, it is important to address all these issues to bring marketing and sales teams onto the same page. This paves the way for better customer-partner experiences, driving better outcomes.
What is Salesforce Revenue Cloud and Why You Should Consider It?
A unified solution that holds the key to solving the challenges we have discussed so far is the Salesforce Revenue Cloud. This suite of solutions is part of the Salesforce Customer 360-degree platform and targets both sales teams and their customers. When implemented, it helps with the streamline aspects of finance, sales, and operations.
The Salesforce Revenue Cloud is powered by automation and driven by AI insights. Not only does it help grow the company’s bottom line, but also helps create a more relevant lead-to -revenue structure. It encourages revenue growth over multiple channels at one go enhancing customer journeys. The three key capabilities of Salesforce Revenue Cloud are:
- Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) and Billing
- B2B Commerce
- Partner Relationship Management Program (PRM)
Here are six reasons why Salesforce Revenue Cloud is something you should contemplate for your business.
A Self-Service Catalog
With Salesforce Revenue Cloud you can create a detailed catalog of products and services you offer. Potential buyers can browse through this catalog and engage with representatives through a channel of their choice. Besides requesting quotes, buyers can directly place orders from any location.
Pricing on the Go
With a detailed product and services catalog, keeping it up-to-date and connecting the catalog with your price book is important. The revenue cycle is thus automated and this accelerates the sales process.
Detailed Overview of Revenue
With a360-degree view of your company’s revenue cycle, you are always in the loop on financial activity. You can track KPIs for deeper insights into specific aspects of the sales cycle from customer data to their buying habits and purchase trends. This information helps build smarter sales strategies.
Easy documentation with clear terms, route pricing, application of loyalty discounts, and a wide range of packages that are already in the approval system can be utilized to quicken closures.
With the Salesforce Revenue Cloud, you can create pricing and validation rules that are appropriate to your business model and prevalent fee structure. With an automated process, the rules will continue to be validated to always ensure compliance. This protects profit margins.
With Salesforce Revenue Cloud you can speed up the process of billing without the fear of human error. This accelerates payment collections. The flexible billing module works to support every kind of sales order, various types of charges, and varied schedules of payments.
10 Ways Salesforce Revenue Cloud Improves B2B Customer Experience
Build a Superior Buyer Experience
With hybrid formats becoming the norm in B2B interactions, Salesforce Revenue Cloud can help with creating better buyer experiences across sales channels. Buyers can choose to go through direct sales interactions, channel partners, or digital stores. Salesforce’s CPQ-B2B Commerce connector helps custom-manage digital storefronts for complex B2B sales. Self-service experiences are smoothened by adding in pricing that can be customized and configured to individual digital carts. Company representatives will have a clear understanding of customer behavior all through the buyer journey and be able to use this information to smartly navigate future conversations.
Fast-tracking Newer Revenue Outlets
Offering subscriptions and consumption pricing is a popular strategy for B2B companies. This becomes easier with the Revenue Cloud Salesforce feature Vlocity. With features like Multi-Cloud Billing, your company can set up revenue streams operational on other clouds on the same, single platform. With this feature, your representatives on the field can upsell products and generate revenue from other services on the site, with the billing process being handled from a single platform.
Enhance Revenue Efficiency
Automation that is inbuilt with the Salesforce Revenue Cloud smoothens the various processes of approvals, data reconciling, and order transcriptions across systems. All potential challenges in these processes are removed. With the Customer Asset Lifecycle Management tool, the representatives can access real-time dashboards for customers detailing purchases, custom inclusions in contracts, open balances, and amendments. This makes customer interaction smoother leading in the long run to efficient revenue generation.
Improve Business Agility
The main purpose of Salesforce Revenue Cloud is to speed up the buying process. Agility becomes a primary benefit here. As a tool, it solves challenges with billing, E-commerce, and various partnerships. It eliminates inter-team silos, making communications and functioning easier. Decision-making for representatives becomes simpler with the real-time support they receive on customer targets, discounts, and KPIs. Errors, often a result of wrong manual entries, are removed with automation of invoicing, sales orders, and incorporating changes. The insights that the Customer Asset Lifecycle Management dashboard provides make strategic decision-making easier.
With Salesforce Revenue Cloud there is no need for separate integration processes. Every quote and order made in Salesforce is converted wherever needed, into subscriptions and invoices. This removes the need for the syncing of various financial aspects related to invoices, account balances, and subscription types. When you invest in the Salesforce Revenue Cloud, it reduces the number of integrations needed throughout a customer’s purchase journey. The number of manual processes also decreases. It gives your business an edge by harnessing the power of the Salesforce Customer 360 platform, unifying customer experience, and giving your business a boost.
Simplifying Representatives’ Jobs
Your business representatives benefit greatly from a unified customer view that includes a list of all earlier invoices and their active subscriptions. Along with providing visibility, it helps avoid revenue leakage. Sales teams also benefit from the analysis available from the billing information, and how timely a buyer’s payments are, and how many active subscriptions are on. This helps them create individualized discount strategies for every Quote-to-Cash rule based on pre-defined metrics.
Better Sales Strategies
With Salesforce Revenue Cloud, partners can offer preference-based discounts to their customers. Coupled with the Salesforce CPQ offering, partners can set up branded portals. This helps improve forecasting and trust-building between partners and buyers. Users of the Salesforce Marketing Revenue system can create their billing engines to ensure better customer satisfaction. This is in addition to the benefits of automated billing and invoice systems, and tracking of multiple clouds on a single platform.
Enhanced Data visibility
Salesforce Revenue Cloud is designed to provide easy access to data. The complete revenue journey is visible and open to reporting based on information across CPQ, billing, delivery, and management. All aspects being handled on a single platform eases this process. Such access to data makes it simpler to spot trends or challenges, as the quality of data is high. As a result, the impact on the bottom line is much higher.
Salesforce Revenue Cloud also comes with several powerful extensions that are made available in AppExchange. Any one of these may be used by an organization to better handle the entire revenue lifecycle. There are apps related to the management of taxes, prices, bills, contracts, and more.
Accelerate Business Growth
Salesforce Revenue Cloud accelerates business growth with quality customer engagement across multiple channels. It helps in plugging the financial gaps created by areas of business that are not faring well. With increased agility, it becomes a single reference point for all representatives looking for quality information about their buyers. It uses analytics to create a database that aids with multiple operations of sales, partnerships, and operations.
Salesforce Revenue Cloud has the advantage of connecting customer and revenue lifecycles. Products and pricing are always the latest, and tie in to an automated process that covers the whole revenue lifecycle of a product or service, right down to price books and catalogs. It brings together the functions of sales and finance, thus enhancing customer experiences.
With the increased demand for hybrid options, the companies can now have the ability to provide self-service orders, easy catalog browsing online, and quotations from sales representatives no matter where your customer is.