90% of businesses are shifting their focus to customer experience. This should come as no surprise, as customer centricity has been a growing buzzword over the last few years.

Author Nick Saraev

Photo: Freepik

Nearly every B2B manufacturer would say that their customers are their focus, but only a handful are speaking directly to customers consistently. 

This leads to the delivery gap. You’ve likely heard that only 8% of customers believe that companies provide an excellent customer journey. This stands in stark contrast to the 80% of teams that claim CX excellence. 

The space between these stats evokes images of a mountain peak. There’s a huge distance to climb, but the view from the top will be worth it. Oliver Gil, who now is at Exclusive Networks, recently shared his journey to the summit, and how your company can follow.

Failing to Summit: Why Many Digitization Efforts Fall Short  

Many companies have tried and failed to summit the mountain of digitization. After discovering that their growth had stagnated, Gil’s team turned to a digital storefront as a way to clear up time for sales representatives and expand their operations.

This strategy didn’t pan out as expected. There are several reasons for this failure, but the most common are

  • Team Isn’t on Board – When the benefits of a major change aren’t clear, you’ll be faced with major pushback 
  • Ineffective Targeting – Without a clear breakdown of your customer segments, you waste time and resources on digital marketing 
  • Unprepared Systems and Workflows – Jumping on board with a new tool like a CRM without having your existing workflow prepared will lead to inefficiencies and wasted potential 

To find true success with a major digital transformation, you have to understand that it isn’t all about technology. It’s about people, culture, and understanding customers’ real expectations. 

Preparing for the Climb: Gathering Data

Expert alpinists wouldn’t dream of tackling a climb without knowing all there is to know about their rout, weather conditions, and potential hazards. However, companies trying to summit digital transformation often do just that.   

Find out what your customers want. There are lots of ways to do this, but one of the most effective ways is with ongoing surveys. Ask your clients about their experience and their desires as often as you can, and use that data to make informed decisions about your digital transformation. 

When Gil’s team ran a survey like this, their results were surprising. It wasn’t the new customers that were invested in going digital, it was the customers that had been around the block several times. They wanted the transactional part of the business to be handled without interaction from sales. 

Discovering this, they were able to focus their digitization efforts on the customer segments that wanted it. 

Charting the Course: Define Your Nonobvious Path 

The clear rout to the top of a mountain usually isn’t the most efficient. When you’re creating a strategy for moving sales digital, it can help to reveiw your existing strategy and find areas that can be improved upon. This can be challenging because it requires an organisational shift. 

Gil’s team looked at their existing contact strategy with larger clients and decided to cut back on visits. Any lost touchpoints were then replaced by “digital visits.” 

However, the in-person visits weren’t cut entirely. Any time that sales representatives gained was re-invested into visits with new prospects. 

Getting a Grip: Factors That Enable Organizational Change  

There are countless tips and tricks that can help with change management, but some are more effective than others. If you only have the bandwith for a few initiatives, focus on these. 

  • CEO Buy-In – The investment you get from C-suite executives must be passed down throughout leadership. When people understand the “why” behind a change, they are more willing to make it
  • Simple Roll Out A short pilot period allows you to demonstrate an initiative’s success quickly. Start by getting the volunteers on board, then the followers, and focus on the detractors last 
  • Offer Incentives – Reward team members for pushing forward with the new initiative. For example, Gil’s team offered incentives for sales representatives to bring in new customers and add product lines to existing contracts  

With an eye on these factors, they were able to reach the summit they set out to. Only once they crested that peak, however, did they see their journey wasn’t over.

The Second Peak: The Digital H Factor 

Initially, Gil’s team focused on going completely digital with their large-scale clients. This worked wonders for digital-ready customers, but many companies were still unsure about the shift. What was missing was the “H factor,” humanity. 

One major issue that can arise here is “fake digital transformation.” Rather than empowering your clients to make purchases online, you can have sales representatives simply place online orders for customers. 

While the numbers will initially look amazing, with lots of orders coming through digital channels, the reality is very different. Your business will have spent time and resources setting up a new system, only to have the same processes as before.  

Even as the age of AI marches on, many B2B customers still want to feel real human engagement. This doesn’t always mean interacting with a salesperson, but when the process feels too automated clients drift away.

You can avoid this by focusing on a few key points. 

  • Delivering Value for Customers – Focus on what your customers get out of the digitization. How can the new system make their lives easier? What does it look like from their end? 
  • Bringing in Humanity – Even one call a month from a real sales representative can be enough to convince the most digital-reluctant customers to stay on board
  • Capitalizing on People – Members of your team will know the ins and outs of the webshop and can be mobilized to support customers when issues arise
  • Leveraging Data and AI – Lighten the burden of your team by working with AI to automate specific processes
  • Measuring Real Impact – Focus on your digital process’s capacity to bring in revenue and connect with customers. The goal is topline growth and long-term relevance

As you work to humanize your digitization, hear what customers actually want, and focus on the benefits for clients, you’ll find far more digital integration both internally and externally. 


Customer centricity, digital transformation, and change management are more than just buzz words. They are key ingredients for future-proofing your company and sustaining growth long-term. 

With a customer focus, and an understanding of why you’re making the change, you’ll be able to lead your team to the digital summit and enjoy the view from above your competitors.

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