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Q&A: How to train sellers to win over the modern customer (Includes interview)

By “the Amazon experience” this means simplifying the purchasing process and having technology that compiles and compares all of the options in one place, and reduces unnecessary human interaction. The sales industry is moving away from emotion-based selling to data-driven methods, according to Kris Goldhair, Strategic Account Director at KBMax.

According to Goldhair the majority of sales professionals indicate that using sales analytics has improved their ability to offer customers a consistent experience across every channel. However, the approaches adopted are not always optimal, as he explains to Digital Journal readers.

Digital Journal: How is digital transformation changing marketing?

Kris Goldhair: Digital transformation has allowed companies to put tools that were traditionally made for salespeople, or for a registered dealers, into the customers’ hands. Potential buyers can go to a website and do more than view photos of a product. They can actually take a virtual product tour and configure a product in 3D. Customers feel like they can really interact with a product without having to talk to a salesperson.

DJ: To what extent are consumers and businesses seeking a centralized service?

Goldhair: IT services are still scattered for many enterprises. While there aren’t a lot of products like Salesforce that have the whole marketing and sales package in one platform, it just depends on if the enterprise wants to go all in.

We still see a lot of customers that are spread out and have piecemeal marketing tools throughout the organization. People want to go in the centralized direction, but don’t always know what is possible technology wise.

At KBMax, we are continually going through tools to determine which marketing tools for running and tracking campaigns. There’s a lot of competition out there and new services keep popping up.

DJ: How are marketing practices changing due to technology?

Goldhair:The old saying “50% of marketing works, we just don’t know which half” can be mitigated with new technology. Digital transformation allows marketing teams new levels of analytics and tracking, which makes doing their job a different ball game. They can use data to follow, personalize and track the customer journey.

For example, our customer Tuff Shed can gather data when someone is coming to their site and configuring a custom storage shed. Then, by going into Salesforce, they can determine how long that sales cycle took and analyze this actionable data to improve practices.

DJ: How well are sellers using new technology?

Goldhair:When it comes to technology like ours, we think we are in the early adopters part of the curve. There’s still a long way to get others to understand how the technology can fit into their workflows and processes. But, there are companies of every size starting to use these new digital transformation technologies with strong results.

Manufacturing companies can be particularly late to the game. Since they are B2B-focused and accustomed to a traditionally siloed approach, these companies don’t necessarily focus on new marketing techniques or use social media like other companies do. Digital transformation that connects marketing, sales, and production is something they need to explore and experiment with.

DJ: How important is predictive analytics?

Goldhair:With predictive analytics, companies are receiving data that they can measure and utilize. For example, our customers now have this tool where they can track everything, from people coming to their website to what their salespeople are doing. They know how to track every click and identify where people might get hung up. They have all this data to continually improve their platform. Before using a solution like ours, they were taking a guess, and they didn’t have that data to work with. They didn’t have an exact knowledge of where people were getting stuck in the process.

But, just because companies have a configurator, it doesn’t mean they’ll put everything in it. They can promote certain options that they want to sell because those options are easier to manufacture or they’re more profitable. The analytics help enterprises define what their customer wants, how they go to market and what product options are worth selling.

It’s a two-sided scenario. It’s not all about the customer. Actionable data helps companies determine where they want to sell and how to present that to customers.

DJ: What types of insights should sellers be seeking?

Goldhair:The line between marketing and sales is changing all the time. Marketing has become more of a process in which people go on websites, do their own research and learn things. People don’t want to be sold to until they’ve done all their homework, especially on the B2B side, because customers know they’ll get a million emails if they express any interest.

The way people want to be marketed and sold to is also a moving target. The ideas companies have should not be set in stone. They should always rely on the data they are seeing, and adjust to what their customer wants.

Buyers want to do their research, and have everything in front of them. That self-guided buying approach can be good and bad, because people can make a lot of assumptions based on the marketing journey. With data, companies can understand the customer’s journey and where they want to go. They can also determine moments in the journey where there should be touchpoints and what those touchpoints should be. Now, enterprises have a much better chance at figuring out what works.

DJ: How does CPQ technology and visualization boost data analysis?

Goldhair:Companies are not separating CPQ and visualization with a tool like KBMax. With the ability to do both at the same time, customers aren’t just seeing a visual version of a custom product; they are visually configuring it and pricing it in real-time. People want to experience the product and have the visual product tour as soon as possible. They don’t want to click a bunch of options or look at a bunch of flat pictures, and then decide if they want to go see the product in-person.

With CPQ and visualization working together, customers know upfront how much a custom product’s going to cost. That experience is much more defined, and the customer has more control. If they change the color or another option, they know how much the price will go up.

At the same time, the system can tell users that if they pick a certain option, production will take two weeks longer, or there will be an issue or delay in one area or another. Tools like ours pave the way for intelligent configuration.

Additionally, potential customers are learning about the product while they’re configuring it. That’s where marketing and sales come together. Companies don’t have to draw a line and say, “This is where marketing’s job ends and sales’ begins.” Businesses can actually market while they are selling by using this technology to show cool features and showcase why their product is better. CPQ and visualization work together to help companies reinforce why people want the product.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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