We know that Digitalization plays a crucial role in the chemical industry in 2018. Digitalization does not only cause a shift in supply centers but also opens doors to increasing competition. Customers often take advantage of increasing competition among sales professionals by demanding low-cost solutions. So consequently, there might be more pressure to maintain the full value of the sale than before. In order to find out more about how digitalization affects the Chemical Industry, we asked Stefan Knau*, Struktol’s Marketing, and Sales Director, how he deals with that challenge in his sales strategy, customer value and whether he has a number one advice to share.
“High transparency, more complexity and full-time availability change our historic sales patterns”“Generally, the customer value approach is very individual in key account management because major customers may have different requirements and strategies in the marketplace. There is not a single number one advice because there are many components to it. My suggestions would be:
- Individuality- Look at each customer with its particular and most important requirements.
- Communication is key! – Make sure to communicate your brand value and key assets to create the right perception for the customer and thus, to deliver a higher added value than the competition.
- Innovation – provide cutting edge technologies and be an expert about the technical features of your product.”
“Digitalization has caused time to become more valuable and allows us to be available 24/7. Also, access to information has increased transparency and created more pressure on every company’s performance.”His advice is to keep focus and to develop a strategy that allows the organization to do the right things efficiently. A prerequisite is to decide what NOT to do (Michael Porter) since many companies usually work on too many things. This will support a companywide consistency and team spirit that will show results in its sales figures because customers will appreciate the clear focus and strategy that translates into added value through a simplification of processes. Even though digitalization has transformed the communication in B2B, Stefan still sees that personal relationships are very important and valuable in the chemical industry since they are the transportation device for creating value perceptions. His estimation is that there are only 5-10% of companies or business models for which digitalization simply does not work yet, and they will decide on how to deal with the challenge of transformed communication. So what are the biggest challenges? “High transparency, more complexity, and full-time availability change our historic sales patterns. Sales Managers need to be able to make their customers lives easier in order to stay ahead of increasing competition.” *Stefan Knau was a speaker at the 2018 Chemicals Sales & Marketing Toolbox.