Blog Category: Sales

How to Collaborate with your Remote Sales Prospects

remote collaboration agreement

In remote sales, submitting a complete quote to a customer is vital. Here’s how you can collaborate remotely with your customer to co-create a successful deal.

This is the 3rd installment of our “Remote Selling for Manufacturers” series. Past posts included “5 Tips to host a video sells meeting” and “How to demo products remotely”.

Over the past couple of months, many commercial teams, including those working for global manufacturers, have gotten used to working remotely. While you may have found ways of keeping your customers and prospects engaged, chances are that many on-going sales process were stopped from one week to the next. Today, many organizations are embracing the latest technologies to carry on with their sales processes remotely. Until recently, manufacturers selling complex products lacked the sales tools to enable remote sales.

The most critical moment of a Sale

Submitting a complete quote to a customer is one of the most important moments of a sale. This moment captures all the previous engagements, meetings and discussions you had with the customer and is a testament of how you plan to meet your customer’s needs.

Given the complexity of B2B deals, it is common for an initial proposal to be submitted only to be returned with corrections and suggestions form the customer. While no side wants delays, all parties understand the need to ensure every last detail is correct before an agreement is finalized. The fewer these backs and forth, the faster both parties can get what they want.

In the past, the process of getting the quote just right would be carried out over days or weeks, by means of a back and forth (typically in writing). While e-mail, and document sharing services have managed to speed things up from the days of the fax, the process remained slow and cumbersome.

Don’t just communicate, COLLABORATE!

The process of “coming to an agreement” used to involve the back-and-forth “dialogue” between two sides, each trying to get their needs met. Today, any B2B salesperson understands that it’s never a good idea to see the other party as an adversary (win-lose), rather as a partner with a common goal (win-win). In other words, if you want to be effective today, you need to actively collaborate with your customers and help them achieve their goals.

While many may agree to this win-win approach, in theory, many organizations struggle to put it into practice. Fortunately, today there are new sales tools and software solutions that make it easier to embrace collaboration with your customers while working remotely. Here’s how.

2 Ways of collaborating with customers during the sales process

1)      Crafting a quote together, step by step, during the same sales call

Imagine if it was possible to be on a video call with your customer. As you are listening to the needs of the customer, you are able to create the quote so by the time you hang up, the quote is already sitting in their inbox. This is exactly what happens in this video.

The video was created by one of our product managers working from home, who enlisted the help of his neighbor to play the role of a buyer. This is yet another example of how we are adapting to this situation.

Here you see how within a call, the salesperson is able to make adjustments to the quote in real-time. If you watched to the end, you can see that the quote will be ready “in a few minutes”.

This is an ideal example of what collaboration with your customer looks like. The customer feels understood and feedback if acted upon right away.

2)      Asynchronously: Handing the keys to the customer

While configuring the quote at the same time might be ideal. There are cases when your customer is working half-way around the world and having a clear video call at the same time is just not feasible. To remain collaborative in these situations, you need to give the customer part-ownership of the process. There are many benefits to allowing your customers to co-create the quote with you, including tapping into what’s known as the IKEA effect.

In this 2-minute video, we can see how a prospect received a detailed quote and, like in the above video, he is able to visualize the product using AR.

Here, you can see how the customer was not satisfied with the original quote. Rather than “sending it back” to you, the customer is empowered to log in directly to a limited quoting environment and reconfigure the order to match their needs.

All that is left to do, is for you to observe the changes made and proceed with the quote.

(BONUS) The Hidden Benefits of Collaboration

We’ve just highlighted some of the practical benefits of collaborating with your customer, especially when it comes to working remotely. There are, also some additional benefits to working in a collaborative way.

1) Shorter sales cycle: The easier it is to make alterations and adjustments, the quicker both sides can come to an agreement.

2) Reduce quoting errors: With its AI-powered configurator, every quote is technically 100% error-free. This reduces the need for sales engineers to correct any order errors.

3) CPQ quotes and proposals are directly linked to Salesforce (or other CRMs) and with your ERP

4) Configured product orders from CPQ are seamlessly transferred to the PLM or other production software.

remote collaboration agreement

 Image credit: Idea vector created by stories – www.freepik.com

Is your organization still stuck on a back-and-forth sales loop? We’re here to help. Click here and request a personalized demo with one of our specialists.

Check out our Resource page where you can read customer success stories, and experience live customer demos.

HOW TO DEMO MANUFACTURING PRODUCTS REMOTELY

How to Demo Manufacturing products remotely

How to DEMO Manufacturing products remotely using 3D and AR (Augmented reality).

The coronavirus is transforming how we “get to work” – in all senses of the word. With many people being asked to work from home (#WFH), it’s hard to go online and not read tips on designing your home workspace, or even the top 5 tips to host a remote sales meeting.

Few professionals,however, seem to understand the challenges of B2B sales. Particularly, the challenges of selling complex manufacturing products. It’s not as if their sales process wasn’t already complicated enough, now with everyone working from home, it’s next to impossible to make progress on their sales process. Or maybe… you just don’t have the right tools.

Just because you can’t meet your customers in person, does not mean that you can’t demo your products. Here’s how.

Imagine sending your prospects a customized product quote, along with a bar code.
For this example, let’s pretend you sell elevators (watch the video below):

It’s important to note that this was not just a 3D/AR visualization of a STANDARD product. Rather, this is a virtual demo of a CONFIGURED product – customized to the exact specifications of the client.

AR demos are becoming more commonplace and they are being used in a wider range of products. On average, 65% of people are visual learners, and they can retain 4 times more information if it’s accompanied by visual aids.   

It looks simple, doesn’t it? Well, for our customers that have implemented Tacton Visual Configuration, the process is as easy as it looks. Let’s take a closer look.

It all starts with CPQ (Configure Price Quote). This is the underlying technology that guides the user through the configuration process with ease, ensuring that all components selected are compatible and viable. For configurable products (especially those with many variables that are highly complex), a CPQ is vital for ensuring the product meets the customer’s needs and that the configuration itself is error-free.

In this slightly longer version of the video, you can see what would happen if the customer is not satisfied with the product quoted. CPQ simplifies the configuration process to such an extent that even a customer can do it.

 

 

Tacton uses an AI-powered configuration engine, allowing configuration (including accurate price and realistic visualizations) to be carried out in real-time. This makes it possible for you to put together a complete quote during a sales meeting, or right after speaking to the customer. Once configured, you can send images and augmented reality (AR) demos of that exact product. This gives the customer an accurate preview of the product they are looking to buy.

The very same configuration quoted can be seamlessly transferred to the ERP systems or the PLM systems so that it is manufactured exactly as quoted. CPQ eliminated the back and forth between sales, production, and engineering.

So far, all this can be done remotely, without the need to travel or meet in person.

Do you think your organization can benefit from such solutions?

If you are interested in seeing a complete demo on how this quoting process would go, we recently hosted a 20min webinar that walks you through the entire visual configuration process in greater detail.

Would you like to try it for yourself?

We’ve created 2 fictional companies: Tructon, a Truck manufacturer; and Parker Lifts and elevator company. These are free for anyone to try out. It’s important to remember that these are “demos” and tacton provides the underlying technology. The looks and feel (UX) can be completely customized by the customer.

How to start using our AR app:

 1) Download the app here: AR app available only on IOS, if you have Android, you can still test the demos on the desktop and view the 3D versions, check out steps 2 and 3).

2) Go into one of our 2 demo environments at tructon.com or www.parkerlifts.com

3) Configure your product and imagine how the products your company makes could be configured this way.

You can also see how some of our customers are using Visual Configurations here: https://www.tacton.com/resources/?resource_type=m207-live-examples

5 ACTIONABLE TIPS FOR HOSTING A VIDEO SALES MEETING

5 actionable tips for hosting a video sales meeting

Since the WHO declared Covid-19 as a pandemic, many organizations have asked us: How are we supposed to sell our manufacturing products remotely? Consider this the first installment of a series opportunistically named “How to sell your manufacturing products remotely”

Recently, Tacton CPQ was named a Visionary in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for CPQ Application Suites, and as such, we wanted to give you some practical tips that any team selling complex-configurable products can implement today to get the most out of their remote sales meeting.

1) It’s an opportunity to build Stronger Customer Relationships

Misconception to avoid: Video calls are “distant”, and therefore also creates distance in your customer’s relationships.

Anyone working in B2B sales understands that building strong customer relationships is the key to success. For the past couple of years, we’ve been hearing how “vulnerability” and “empathy” have empowered business leaders to make better decisions and strengthen their business relationships. The current global crisis, halting business-as-usual, offers us a chance to put business aside and take a moment to listen to our customers’ issues, empathize with their situation and offer guidance.

For this, it is important to remain authentic and not ask if you are not willing to truly listen. This is an opportunity to set aside the frantic pace of sales, and use the time for other less urgent matters. The whole world is slowing down, so turn this to an advantage.

2) Don’t downplay video calls – Embrace them

Misconception to avoid: Everyone sees video calls as a poor substitute. No one is “happy” about meeting on a video call.

We know how face-to-face meetings are (almost) always preferred, and there is just no substitute for speaking with someone who is right in front of you. Video conference call is the next best thing. Not a phone call, but a video call with a camera pointed at you.

Depending on your personality, you may feel the need to start by politely apologizing for “meeting this way”. By beginning your conversation with an apology, you are already setting a negative undertone to the meeting.

Instead, seek to fully embrace the medium and play on its advantages. Video calls can help you communicate clearly and asking direct questions that require a bit of time to respond. In a video call, you can easily take a few more seconds to respond without making it awkward. Your answers might become better structured and complete than ever before.

3) Enlist behind-the-scenes help

Misconception to avoid: You must host the conversation alone, and you should be able to handle it on your own.

Maintaining the focus on the meeting and making sure that you communicate effectively requires large amounts of your limited attentional bandwidth. According to studies cited in the book “Hyperfocus” by Chris Bailey, on average we possess just enough attention to hold a conversation and carry out 1 other routine task (like walking, running, or listening to music).

However, when one of these items is new to us (like meeting a customer for the first time or having to use video calls while searching for files on the computer), our brains maximizes the attention span to the new task at the expense of everything else (i.e. at the expense of the attention you give your customer).

The way to help you cope with this lack of attentional focus is to outsource some of that mental bandwidth. You can enlist the help of a fellow colleague during the call, that can help you with presenting the visuals, and having other relevant information at hand while you focus on the call. This person does not have to be formally introduced and can operate in the background as a helping hand. This will allow you to be more present and therefore ensure that you accomplish your goals for the call.

If you think that you cannot ask for help, think again. Team members are usually most likely to help if you ask. If no one volunteers, offer to return the favor to one of your fellow sales team members.

4) Use Visuals and Additional Materials

Misconception to avoid: You don’t have any quality images or visuals to show. These are just a distraction.

Studies show that on average, your customers will retain only 10% of the information presented in a sales meeting. However, when presenters use visuals (such as images or video), audiences are able to retain an average of 43% of the information. The fact that 65% of people are visual learners might have something to do with it.  Here is a visual that drives the point home:

Visual presentations are more effective

If you don’t have any images or visuals, think again. Nowadays you can ask your marketing team, your product designers, etc, to share some relevant images.

If images for the actual products are not available, how about similar products? Have you reached out to your happy customers for images of your products?

Perhaps you may already have some images you took with your phone. Those are as good as any, and by showing them from your phone, it shows that you are dedicated and resourceful.

5) Don’t go at it alone, Invite others to join you

Misconception to avoid: Remote sales meetings are no place for anyone else other than the sales rep. Having more people on the call can deter the quality of the call.

Normally it’s not possible to bring your sales engineers or product manufacturers with you to sales meetings. However, since you will all be joining remotely, you can easily ask a product manager or sales engineer to tag-along on your sales call.

What would have been strange to invite someone to join by conference call, does no longer seem out of place. This can signal to your customer that you are willing to invest time and resources on them, given them the chance to get technical if they so wish. It also enables your customers to get some technical answers in real-time, which can drive them down the sales funnel.

 

We hope these practical tips can help you and your sales teams to make use of their limited time with your customers.

We wouldn’t be named Visionary without offering you a realistic vision of what remote selling looks like for our happy customers.  To get a preview of what this looks like, check out this short video below.