As a sales person with different electronics manufacturers, part of my job was to match my customer’s requirements with a product from my company. As the company got bigger and the product range larger, we found that product search and findability was always a problem.
Of course, training helped. And a good sales person was able to guide the buyer to the best possible solution with the aid of printed catalogs, product selectors etc. This worked well when early contact was established between the buyer and the seller.
Potential customers for your products are increasingly doing their homework online before contacting your sales team. Your potential customers know your competitors, have identified potential solutions and have set buying criteria much earlier in the buying cycle than even 5 years ago.
Mobile tools offer a perfect chance to increase engagement with existing customers and distribution channels. Plus differentiate your company from competitors in the minds of your existing customer base by offering convenience that your competitors simply cannot.
Here is an example of a mobile solution for a B2B manufacturer with a complex sales process.
The B2B mobile app offers the user the ability to easily search and select products from a large product range of nearly 3000 SKUs and create a Bill of Materials (BOM). The app also enables users (typically a design engineer) to configure millions of product configurations using a product configurator.
In effect the app puts all the tools needed to complete a design-in of a product, possibly months before the engineer calls a sales rep.
And with the advanced analytics, the app helps identify the buying organization.
The video shows how B2B eCommerce for Complex Sales is not just about selling directly via your website but about simplifying product search; identifying the buyers early in the sales cycle and integrating with your existing sales channels.
You have spent a ton of money on Google AdWords and a potential customer has visited your website. Now what? Somehow you must convert your visitor into a lead. You have to engage your visitor to the point where they want to give you their contact information so you can initiate the sales cycle.
Managing a wide array of products is a daunting task. If you have a business with a large range of products available, you’ve probably run into the issue of how to:
- Manage your products, and keep the product details updated.
- Categorize the products logically.
- Organize your products in a catalog so your customers, channels and sales team can find them easily.
Up until fairly recently, your options were somewhat limited.
You could print a paper catalog but that has several drawbacks:
- Expensive– printing large volumes of color product catalogs is very expensive.
- Bad for the environment– lots of waste material is generated. Many printed materials are simply not read and thrown away quickly.
- Out of date almost as soon as it’s printed. If you need to add a new product, change the price of a product or delete a product that you no longer sell, it’s not possible to reflect that change until you offer a newer edition of the printed catalog.
- Difficult for your customers to find the products they need in big product catalogs, potentially killing sales opportunities.
Another option is to upload a PDF product catalog onto your website or to create product tables and pages. That eliminates some of the problems of a printed catalog, but it too has several drawbacks:
- Difficult for your customers to navigate your web product catalog– apart from well-designed e-commerce sites like Amazon, many product websites are very difficult to navigate even for customers who know exactly what they want. If your customers have to go through a maze of web pages and download product specification PDFs to get the information needed to make a buying decision, many will simply give up and perhaps go to a competitor who has easier to find products.
- Difficult to update and maintain your web product catalog– as it takes expert knowledge of your Content Management System to ensure updated products are displayed consistently.
Other Things to Consider
- Smartphone usage is exploding. There’s never been a better time to get your product catalog in a mobile format such as an app in front of millions of potential customers.
- Use a familiar tool to manage all your data such as Microsoft Excel. There’s no awkward database to update, no strange new software package to learn, and no tricky content management system (CMS) to maintain.
- B2B buyers now expect as good an online experience as on B2C websites.
Can ProductWorld help you?
It very much depends on what industry you are in.
The answer is YES if your company manufactures a broad or complicated range of products. You sell to other businesses (B2B) and have a sales cycle where a product selection decision today leads to revenue in a week, month or maybe even a years time.
All it takes is a simple Excel file listing your product specifications to create an extremely powerful online catalog integrated into your website plus delivered as iPhone, iPad and Android apps. No IT. No agency needed. Just Excel skills.
The online catalog is really easy to search, provides detailed analytics and most importantly supports your sales efforts with high intention, product specific sales leads – sent directly to your inbox.
ProductWorld has experience working with customers in a variety of B2B manufacturing industries – semiconductors, lighting, sensors & alarms, security, electronic components, power, professional AV, LEDs, automotive and aviation components.
Online Catalog Creator
Step One: Create an Excel Spreadsheet with all your Product Data – we can also help with this.
ProductWorld provides you with an Excel template that you use as to create a list of all you products.
A row in the spreadsheet represents all the data for one, single product. Adding a new product is as simple as filling in a new row of product data and uploading it to the cloud. You can add new products, modify existing products or delete discontinued products in Excel, quickly and easily – and as often as you see fit.
Step Two: Use the auto-categorize feature to create simple browsing categories in your customers language.
Here, you get to specify what product features, pictures of your products, how you divide the products into logical categories for customers to navigate and so on. There are almost endless possibilities to how you can allow your customers to navigate through your catalog.
ProductWorld will help you in deciding how best to organize your catalog. The nice thing is, if you change your mind, reorganizing the catalog can be done easily in a few minutes.
Step Three: Publish using our Online Catalog Creator
You get to publish you online catalog on your website and as iPad and iPhone apps on Apple App Store and on Google Play for Android smart phones and tablets.
What is a website product selector?
A website product selector using ProductWorld’s catalog software provides the simplest, most intuitive way possible to browse and search a large or complex B2B product range on your website or mobile device.
When many people think of search, they think of a Google search – a buyers has a definite search term that they have in mind, for example: “LED light”. They search for this on Google, and get back a list of websites that will answer their query. Hopefully yours will be one of them.
Product selection is a really difficult thing to get right on your website.
How do you enable your prospective customer to select a product fast? This is an increasingly important topic for manufacturers as more buyers conduct more of their research online.
Here are 6 tips to help you succeed to get your customers selecting the correct product fast.
In 2010, over 20 billion paper catalogs were mailed to customers in the US alone – that’s about 200 catalogs per year sent to every single household on the country.
And whilst manufacturers typically don’t bulk mail their product catalog, it gives you a sense of how much waste is involved with printed catalogs.
Printed catalogs do generate revenue for companies but they are a very inefficient way to do so and unless you bulk mail millions, the results are impossible to measure.
Ditching a paper catalog in favor of digital product catalog is a radical departure from the status quo, but it’s a concept that is gaining momentum as businesses look to reduce marketing costs, and at the same time make it easier for their customers to find their products.
Here are 6 reasons to consider when comparing a digital product catalog versus a print version – especially for manufacturers of industrial products.
If we are releasing your catalog app on Apple’s app store or Google Play, there are a few things that will need to be completed so that customers are able to find your app on the App Store and identify your company.