In Wholesale, Staying Reactive Means Staying Equipped
When people talk about reactivity in a business sense, they often do so from a technical perspective.1 From initial software development to ongoing support, modernizing businesses are increasingly concerned with getting in front of problems instead of simply mitigating them after they happen. In fields like cybersecurity, for instance, the ability to proactively stop problems is a major point of ongoing success.2
But this kind of thinking doesn’t stop at the IT department. Nor does it have to result in your business dreaming up and proactively covering every wild (but potentially plausible) probability that comes down the flowchart.
Take remote and local sales reps, an integral piece of the B2B wholesale industry, and likely a big part of your overall sales process. As the industry leaders building empowerment tools for people in these roles, we say the B2B wholesale sales process can be engineered to be a lot more flexible, functional, and proactive than the current status quo.
Building Proactivity Into Your Sales Process: The Basics
Why build proactivity into your processes?
In short, because it helps everyone involved in the running of your business. We could spend a lot of time talking about the bigger business benefits, but let’s narrow it down to two key roles:
- Your sales reps, including travelling and regional personnel, get the ability to react to situations when you give them proactive tools to use in the field.
- Your buyers get more options to buy from you at more touchpoints they currently use—because you’ve anticipated that they’ll want to buy there already!
In that sense, you can think of business proactivity in this context as giving sales reps what they need to be successful in many situations, and giving buyers as many (viable) options as you can to make sure all sorts of needs and habits are covered.
What do I do first?
If you’ve read our blog before you know we’re big fans of businesses that spend time trying to get in their buyers’ shoes. And that strategy 100% applies here. However your business does it, it takes great pains to understand things like:
- Where your buyers do the brunt of business with you
- Where other buyers may do business with you if you expand your per-channel selling capabilities
- The pain points and slowdowns they hit in your selling process
Addressing Areas of Opportunity
Looking for morsels of info the right way
What would a more reactive version of your business look like out in the field? That’s the question you’re ultimately delving into when you start looking for places to improve. And returning to the two roles we talked about above, your best way to find actionable advice is to go right to the source. Talking to sales reps, their managers, and your buyers about the challenges they face and their evolving needs they bring to transactions.
For your sales reps, your line of questioning should be in the vein of: How can we make it easy for you to excel? And for buyers, you may wish to ask trusted longtime buyers new ways they’d like to buy from or engage with your brand, with a central focus of: How do we grow our relationship?
Turning to technology for help
Chances are a lot of the pain points and slowdowns your buyers and reps reference will come from the need for more connected tools.
We’ll use a hypothetical example here to show you what we mean. Let’s say a furniture seller utilizes one software platform to manage its buyer-facing website and another to give its sales personnel some form of order-writing capability on the road. Each of these systems work independent of one another, but the lack of cross-functionality between them means reps in the field never truly know if inventory levels and buyer history are accurate.they have no insight into the buyer’s activity on the platform, because it’s completely walled off from the tools they use.
In this instance, one of the fastest paths to proactivity—obtaining a system that gives sales reps a fuller view on the road and buyers a more connected purchasing experience—naturally comes down to technology. Our point: when you find tools that address multiple issues at once and empower multiple ways to handle business, you give yourself more paths to proactively respond.
For another example, you can look to RepZio by Juniper’s useful ability to send digital information like catalogs and tearsheets from inside the platform. As any experienced rep knows, it’s often a 50-50 shot (or worse odds) that a stakeholder capable of making purchasing decisions is available on a cold visit; a tool that lets sales professionals adapt by quickly leaving behind digital collateral—or using it to close a sale, if the decision-maker is in—adds flexibility that can pay off in any number of situations.
What Does a Proactive Sales Process Look Like?
The honest answer to this question is it all depends.
- For sales reps, proactivity means being able to act as a fully connected agent of the business wherever they are—whether they stay to the showroom or travel the country.
- For buyers, proactivity means a few things:
- Making sure the channels they shop on are also fully connected--placing an order from the showroom, over the phone, or on a tablet.
- Making sure their information flows to all the right places so the business can always help, no matter who they address first.
- For your business, finally, proactivity means a greater deal of flexibility everywhere. Let’s say an organization struggles to give its remote salespeople the same up-to-the-minute sales data showroom managers and others can see. By increasing that visibility, they immediately upgrade the company’s ability to solve problems on the fly.
Juniper by IMC is here to help businesses thrive in more ways than one. Now that you’ve learned a little more about business reactivity and what it can do for your wholesale model, check out:
1 Reactive vs. proactive development | by Amir Salihefendic | Hacking and Gonzo | Medium
2 Reactive vs. proactive security: Three benefits of a proactive cybersecurity strategy - Infosec Resources (infosecinstitute.com)