Head of Sales at Visable International, Raphael Ermini’s review was published in the Journal du Net. He tells us about the indispensable digitalisation of SMEs to survive the COVID-19 crisis.
For more than 5 months now, many companies have feared for their existence and are put to the test every day. Those who have not equipped themselves with digital solutions are in danger.
The digitalisation of SMEs in the purchasing and sales functions is accelerating.
The classic marketing and sales tools, which are tried and tested, suddenly became impossible to use; the cancellation of many trade fairs and the part-time working hours of sales staff led to a sudden halt in sales for many companies.
SMEs that had not acquired digital solutions and had not invested in optimising their online presence were particularly affected. Their survival is currently at stake and one thing is clear: only companies that go digital will survive this crisis.
In the sales function, it is a question of quickly finding new ways of making sales by “distancing” themselves from traditional prospecting visits.
Whether it be sales meetings via videoconferencing or the use of a virtual exhibition stand, the possibilities are numerous and the demand for continuing education is growing.
Cancellation of trade shows, up until now, the most important sales and marketing tool
Even before the start of the COVID-19 crisis, the relevance of many trade fairs around the world was being questioned: considered not necessarily aligned with buyers’ needs, too many costs that today seem outrageous versus benefits; exhibitor/visitor travel, level of investment out of proportion with the ecological footprint.
At a time of digitalisation – considering the economic and ecological impact – transporting machines to the other side of the world to exhibit them for one or two weeks on an expensive stand is almost an irrelevant issue. Can digital solutions combine the expectations of buyers and suppliers?
Development of interpersonal exchanges and knowledge sharing
For many French and European VSEs and SMEs, the annual trade fair visits have always been an opportunity to exchange with colleagues in their sector of activity, to have access to the latest news, to a panel of experts, to attend master classes and other bootcamps which are designed to share knowledge and to be inspiring.
It must be noted that this need for meetings, exchanges and networking does not seem to have disappeared with the crisis. On the contrary, if it takes different forms, via video-conferences it also offers extensive possibilities of communication such as virtual reality, which is growing rapidly in B2B.
Massive increase in online marketing expenditure
With part of the marketing budget saved by cancelling trade shows, will companies opt for digital solutions and make themselves known through SEO, content marketing and digital strategies?
According to a recent survey published by iBusiness in Germany, more than one in four companies (27%) are considering using digital marketing solutions to reach their audiences. Audience and content are controlled in a targeted way, proving the ability of B2B platforms to generate a steady flow of qualified leads.
The purchasing process: now a key role in the company
The purchasing process, prior to the COVID-19 crisis was sometimes considered as contributing very little to the added value of the company, but it has turned out to be a key function.
Due to breaks in established supply chains and shifting sourcing markets such as China, the purchasing function has become the focus of attention for Senior Management.
This awareness, emerged very suddenly – if there is a positive consequence to be drawn from this crisis – this is perhaps one of them: purchasing ensures the survival of the company, the preservation of its margins by increasing its reactivity and resilience through the use of adapted digital solutions.
From now on, it is no longer just a question of buying, the challenge is to acquire know-how in digitalisation that will promote the sustainability of the business and the long-term success of any VSE/SME.
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