Sales reps and b2b eCommerce – working in harmony

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Traditionally, sales reps have been at the heart of almost every b2b company. Many of these businesses are reluctant to implement eCommerce for fear of alienating and compromising the work of sales people, whose performance is recognised as key to success.

On paper, it’s easy enough to incentivise reps with commission for their role in securing online purchases, or for allocating online customers to specific members of the sales team so they have the opportunity to develop the account. But in practice, using eCommerce to support your reps is slightly more complex.

In our experience, the best place to start is by ensuring you have the right b2b eCommerce infrastructure in place. This means deploying a high quality, highly flexible platform that can easily align with your specific business model. Make sure all appropriate product data features on the site and is kept up-to-date – customers will not trust your site if they find out that information is incomplete or inaccurate.

Pricing on the site needs to be accurate and current too, as well as being tailored to individual customers – otherwise buyers will simply bypass your site and phone into customer services to ensure they get the best deals. Pricing should incorporate any special customer terms, bulk discounts, promotions and offers, which involves integration of the eCommerce platform with accounting and business systems such as Sage and Pegasus.

Such integration can also enable you to calculate and track online and offline sales by customer, with activities across all channels monitored and recorded. Aggregation of information in this way helps you to allocate customers to sales team members based on a variety of factors. It also underpins the successful incentivisation of your reps by ensuring that online, telephone and yard sales are all accurately recorded and reps rewarded accordingly.

So how should you treat the incentivisation of online sales? Your eCommerce site should be a powerful sales tool in its own right, bringing in increased turnover while making the job of your sales reps easier. Arguably then, you could consider restructuring your sales commission package to reflect this change in situation – a change that could be better for both your business and your sales reps.

For example, say you previously offered reps 6% commission on new sales and 3% for repeat purchasers; after restructuring you could offer a flat 4% across all sales attributed to each individual sales person. With the increased revenue generated through your online channel, your business benefits from a better bottom line, while reps can also benefit from earning greater commission.

In short then, your eCommerce platform needs to help sales people sell more, and your sales people need to be rewarded for securing new business, repeat business, upselling and cross-selling. At the same time, it’s important that reps understand the competitive advantage that comes with a high performance b2b eCommerce solution and that this involves considerable investment from the business. Overall though, a state-of-the-art platform should support the generation of greater revenue per rep.