David Bickerstaff 09 August 2016 3 min read

How to get your Sales Reps on board

So imagine this...

You’ve been a Sales Rep for the last 20 years. You’re now in your mid 40’s and a seasoned professional who has driven the high roads and low roads of your territory visiting customers. Year on year you have been delivering revenue to your company promoting your company’s products and services, servicing customers’ requirements, and as well expanding your territory to prospective customers.

Then you get the news that your company is investing in a new ecommerce system to service customers. The new system will allow customers to order online, check on orders, see availability, and as well as do many other functions normally that they would ask you to do or ring back to your internal customer support team.

So... how are you feeling? If you are like most, you will feel some level of trepidation and your mind will be racing with questions like... What does this new system mean for me?  Will my role be made redundant?  Will I lose commission as my customers buy online?


Well if industry analyst like Forrester are right we are on the verge of a tectonic shift in the way B2B sales happens. Forrester predict that some 20% of B2B sales roles will disappear by 2020 as the momentum continues to grow with customers buying more online and servicing their needs via an ecommerce solution.

So with these sort of predictions circulating in the business press and doing the rounds amongst your sales team... How do you get them engaged with your ecommerce program?

In our 15 years’ experience we have seen that the businesses who get this right are the ones that couple their ecommerce program with training and ongoing support for their Sales people, and call out that the new online channel is NOT competing with them but another channel for their customers to transact. A structured program of communication and engagement with your customers is the framework of success and the Sales team will be leading the charge, so you must give them the tools and the assurances they need to succeed.

One of our best examples is an agricultural parts manufacturer and importer who over the last 4 years have grown their online business to now represent over 90% of total sales... and are still working to get these figures higher!

Their business has grown because their Sales people are advocates for their ecommerce system and see it as an aid, NOT an adversary to their role. Each of their people are well trained in the system and are able to support their customers. During this huge shift in online customer activity they haven’t reduced their Rep head count because their sales roles haven’t been made redundant... their role within the business has evolved!

So now the Sales team are completely focused on:

• Helping their customers understand the products and services that they are selling
• Ensure customers understand the features and benefits of their products
• Showing their customers how easily they can access key information and place orders anytime online
• How best to use the technology to support their customers’ customers

In this case the Sales team see ecommerce as giving them and their customers the edge in the market. Their customers are able to use the system to get the basic administration functions done 24/7/365 and then use the time with their Sales Rep to transfer valuable information between their businesses.

This company’s Sales people are not like the order taking Reps of yesteryear – those Sales Reps are going to go the way of the dinosaurs – they are now more like ‘Sherpas’ guiding their customers to ensure they are getting the right products, at the right time with the required technical specifications.

But don’t be fooled by their effectiveness, these Sales people are still out there selling and they have changed the game. They are more customer focussed and are able to spend more time helping their customers make the right buying decisions. They’re taking their unfair share of business from competitors.

So if you’re embarking on a B2B ecommerce project, or perhaps wanting to reinvigorate its uptake within your business - involve your sales people.

Whether they are tech savvy 25 year olds starting their career or seasoned road warriors, a consultative approach with training and support will deliver results. The Sales people in your team who see themselves as professional, brand and company ambassadors will quickly get the fact that ecommerce is going to help them do their job and drive the results that your company requires.