Businesses are going all in with self-service portals. In the consumer goods industry, 48 percent of companies implemented one or more new self-service B2B digital commerce solutions in 2020 alone, according to Salesforce industry research. Although self-service portals are traditionally viewed as solutions for reducing the expense and time associated with delivering customer service, modern self-service portals are so much more. Self-service portals are increasingly serving as an important extension of the company itself. Self-service portals today include features and customizations that enable customers to interact with the company’s brand and products in fundamentally different ways.
That’s why sales teams are increasingly recognizing the value of self-service portals for attracting more potential buyers, creating new sales opportunities, and increasing the size of deals. Let’s explore five reasons that sales reps want to implement self-service portals to drive deals forward:
Customers receive more personalized, intelligent experiences
Sales teams do everything they can to get to know customers, personalize and customize every interaction, and keep methodical records on buying history. However, these interactions take a tremendous amount of work—and they’re subject to human error and human behavior. A self-service portal, by contrast, is powered by AI, taking human unpredictability off the table entirely. Instead, every customer can be addressed by name as soon as they log in. Complete records of past products and services purchased are instantly accessible. And customer inquiries can be automatically routed to the agents best qualified to respond. Another huge advantage is that self-service portals can be configured to suggest related products and services to customers, increasing the chances of upselling and cross-selling—with no human effort involved.
Customers have a low barrier to entry to explore
Many customers that sales teams make contact with don’t result in a deal—at least not right away. In many cases, it’s because the customer simply isn’t ready, and they don’t like feeling pressured and put on the spot. Self-service portals get around this inherent limitation by giving customers a low barrier to entry to explore and learn. Businesses can publish knowledge bases, multimedia content, schematics and spec sheets, and how-to guides. Self-service portals also can be configured with online forums and message boards that are populated with real customer opinions, insights, and reviews. Customers are free to explore as long as they want, and they aren’t wasting a minute of the sales team’s time. Moreover, all of this customer self-exploration online has an important spillover effect: The more time that customers spend on a self-service portal, the more quality hits and traffic the business racks up, which improves the business’s chances of ranking higher in search results.
Some customers will self-initiate buyer journeys
Customers’ buyer journeys don’t all look the same. Some customers don’t want to talk to a human at all, and some only want to talk to a human after they’ve reached a certain stage. Self-service portals enable customers to initiate their own buyer journey without ever making contact with a human. Customers can configure their own bundles, automatically generate quotes, and do comparison shopping and independent research. By the time the customer makes contact with the sales team, they are much more educated and knowledgeable about what they want, making the sales rep’s job much easier and more straightforward.
Administrative tasks are streamlined
Sales teams often lament that too much of their day is sucked up on administrative tasks instead of selling. Self-service portals can help ease this administrative burden in multiple ways. First, a self-service portal ensures that all interactions with a customer emanate from a single point, which means the sales team doesn’t need to go into multiple systems later to retrieve these records. Second, sales teams are better positioned to collaborate with marketing and customer service, as all customer interactions are logged in a single place. Finally, when self-service portals are configured for lead generation—such as a chatbot that uses AI to identify leads—the portal can take care of capturing and storing this data for follow-up by the sales team.
Decision-makers are getting younger—and expect self-service options
Over time, as more decision-makers come from younger generations, the tide is shifting to sometimes an exclusively self-service buying journey. These customers rely fully on self-service not only for their personal lives but also for conducting business online. Without a full-fledged self-service offering, your business won’t even get your foot in the door with this rising population of buyers. That’s why it’s critical to not only implement a self-service portal as a mere option but also to promote self-service channels widely, so your younger decision-makers know your business is capable and adept at this form of transactional business.
Businesses cannot go wrong with a self-service portal, especially one that’s chock-full of features to help sales reps meet their goals. Sales teams are increasingly embracing self-service portals because they recognize that customers will receive more customized and intelligent experiences and will have a low barrier to entry to shop and explore. Some customers will even prefer to self-initiate their buyer journeys without any human contact. And administrative tasks will be streamlined.
Simplus specializes in helping businesses get maximum value from self-service portals. To learn more about how we configure self-service portals to supercharge your sales opportunities, please reach out to Simplus today. We look forward to showing you how to use self-service portals to reach new buyers and optimize every deal.