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The Next eCommerce Frontier

In our personal lives, self-service shopping online is ubiquitous, yet in B2B there are technical and business obstacles to delivering that same experience: business relationships are nuanced, customer requirements are unique, and product configurations are complex. Today’s B2B buyers don’t want excuses; they want great experiences. Tune into this customer session to learn how Goodman Manufacturing is transforming their commerce strategy and delivering a great customer experience - while sharpening their competitive edge.

About the Speakers

Laurence Scharff, Director, eCommerce at Goodman Manufacturing, manages, supports and grows the internet resell channel for Goodman products. He develops online sales strategies to compliment traditional HVAC sales for distributors and contractors in the Goodman network. Scharff is an industrious leader committed to leading a sales team to achieve company revenue goals. He's demonstrated success by conforming to ethical business practices and a work environment where employees are challenged to achieve their maximum potential while knowing they can thrive in a fair and practical work environment.

Lilliana Chavez, Manager in the Business Transformation practice for Ernst & Young LLP (EY), helps clients build trusted relationships with their customers through the implementation of tools and processes needed to transform the sales organization, improve profitability, and enhance customer experiences. Through project experience at EY, Chavez has led digital sales technology implementation, lead-to-cash business process design, and operating model design and execution. She also has prior experience supporting PROS CPQ implementation engagements at global medical device companies.

Sayali Birari serves as Manager, Performance Improvement in the Customer Advisory practice at Ernst & Young LLP US. She has over eight years of experience providing sales and service strategy and effectiveness solutions for mid-size and global companies in the Fintech, Manufacturing, Education Management, Medical Device, Technology and Environmental Services sectors.Birari is experienced in translating client problems into business requirements and solution enablement via CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platforms, such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, PROS Pricing and CPQ (Configure-Price-Quote). She also specializes in solution delivery of CPQ solutions and has led implementation projects in the areas of Lead to Cash transformation, Go-to-Market optimization, sales effectiveness and sales enablement.

Ulrich von Beck serves as VP of Global Strategic Consulting at PROS. He helps to build, scale and manage SaaS technology sales, pre-sales and delivery teams. von Beck has experience in sales leadership, go-to-market-strategies and customer success for technology solutions in the pricing, supply chain, sales enablement, mobile and publishing spaces, with a focus on AI and algorithms based technologies.

Full Transcript

Ulrich von Beck: Hi, everybody, welcome back and welcome to our next session. In the session, we're going to concentrate on the buyer self-service, offer configuration part of eCommerce, and we believe that that's the next frontier of our eCommerce journey for PROS and for our customers and the people that help our customers realize that reality. Today, I'm joined by an esteemed panel from both EY and from Goodman. And I'm going to ask Laurence Scharff, the Director of eCommerce at Goodman, to introduce himself....

Laurence Scharff: Hi, everyone, and thank you for inviting me, and I look forward to this session and excited about what we're doing with PROS and with EY on our B2B eCommerce site. So Goodman Manufacturing is a subsidiary of Daiken Industries, which is a worldwide heating and air conditioning manufacturing. Our brands in North America are Goodman, Amana and the Daiken brand. We are using the software for our B2B commerce site between our company owned distribution and heating and air conditioning contractors across North America, including Canada. So that's what we do, and I look forward to questions and interacting with the group.

Ulrich von Beck: Thank you, Laurence. We're glad to have you with us. Let me move over to Siyali Birari. She's a manager at EY. Why don't you go ahead?

Siyali Birari: Sure thanks. Hi, everyone. Looking forward to a wonderful session here. I'm a manager at EY and in the business transformation consulting practice. I have around nine years of experience in providing sales and service strategy and effective solutions to midsize and global companies across industries. I've led various digital transformation projects and provide a solution enablement when the CRM e-commerce space and specifically concentrating on the pricing and CPQ solutions. Recently, I worked with Laurence on our Goodman go live project, where we implemented an eCommerce CPQ solution.

Ulrich von Beck: Great, thank you so much Siyali. Lilliana, let's go over to you.

Lilliana Chavez: Thank you so much. So hi, everyone. My name is Lilliana Chavez and I'm an engagement consulting manager here at EY. I'm also in the business transformation practice, working closely with Siyali on numerous engagements specializing particularly in sales and services, having supported and led multiple pricing transformation and sales transformation engagements and working closely with large companies, including large manufacturing clients. Pleasure to be here and join the conversation.

Ulrich von Beck: Fantastic and for everybody else out there, I'm already Ulrich von Beck. I head up our strategic consulting team here at PROS. We see a lot of different prospects. We see a lot of customers and it's always an exciting time to be here to actually speak about the real world, things that we're delivering our out there as we go through these transformation projects. Looking at transformation and that eCommerce journey, the B2C eCommerce journey is very much self-serve, it gets all the publicity out there. We all use it in our personal lives. And so for the EY team, how do you see that playing out in the B2B world?

Siyali Birari: Yeah so in the B2B world, it's more than a website, it's not just a shopping cart or an online transaction. Given the areas of impact within our business, B2B eCommerce is transformational. It's about bringing your company back into the future. A B2B site needs to accommodate the unique challenges of selling, including complex workflows, customer specific pricing, multiple personas and also multiple instances. Manufacturers that provide consumers like experience to the B2B buyers, right? They want to give them a personalized experience as well. What we have seen in the recent past is manufacturing and distribution customers have been incorporating all their businesses with this whole digital transformation. They see the benefits like efficiency, increased visibility to their orders for their customers engagement and then also an increase in their revenue. Now I feel like manufacturers have invested more in the eCommerce solutions than distributors. But in the recent past, because of this whole, the COVID 19 pandemic, I feel like even distributors are jumping on the bandwagon. They are looking forward to, are trying to invest into solutions, which gives them, which gives their B2B customers as well, like a one stop shop solution to provide all the latest availability the products, their pricing based on their preferences. So a lot of internal and external factors were hurdles, I would say, for distributors. But now, because of the whole, you know, the ways of work have changed due to the pandemic. Everything is remote. They are looking for opportunities to have an eCommerce solution, which is fully integrated, which could be used by their B2B customers.

Ulrich von Beck: Great thank you for that insight, Siyali. I I'll go over to Laurence. You you've got a lot of experience at Goodman and you've obviously seen that B2C world. How does a company like Goodman Manufacturing even start this journey of eCommerce transformation in a business to business, company to company world, which is so different?

Laurence Scharff: Well, I think you start with your customers and what your customers are asking you for. And what they're asking for is easy. And what they're asking for is give me time back during the week so that I can do more jobs so that I can focus in on my business versus managing my purchasing. And so a digital experience is what we were aspiring to improve and a B2B eCommerce site that is kind of a hybrid, an Amazon type experience was the expectation, but you have limitations and to be based on information that needs to be passed on. You have to have certain match ups that have to be correct. So the idea is really to have a one stop experience where I can get the information that I need, I can look at different options based on price because I'm reselling what I'm buying here, so I'm not looking for one solutions. I'm looking for multiple solutions. Pick that, buy it, and then make the arrangements to either have it shipped or to come pick it up. So it's, you have customers with B2C expectations, but then you have the nature of the business, which you have to adapt into your experience and in your UI to make sure that you're covering both.

Ulrich von Beck: Thanks, Lawrence. It's certainly a big leap of faith and a belief in the future that gets you over that, that bump.

Laurence Scharff: Yeah and you know, the customers the is your transformation cue that's the person that is going to dictate what you need to do. And I feel very happy that we've listened and through cooperation of our groups, know we're making that happen. So it's exciting.

Ulrich von Beck: Is this something, for Siyali and Lilliana, is this something that you're seeing a lot of manufacturers, if we zoom in on manufacturers or where are we in that leap of faith? You know, going to this complexity of configuration for manufacturers in the industry, and we have a shining example here with Goodman. Where are we on that leap of faith?

Lilliana Chavez: Sure, I can take that one. So one of the things that we are seeing is that manufacturers are increasingly viewing eCommerce as essential for their financial performance. A 2021 manufacturing and eCommerce benchmark report shows that nearly all manufacturers upwards of 98% are planning to implement an eCommerce strategy in the near future. And if you think about the high level of complexity and a manufacturer's product assortment and their go to market approach, they likely only see benefits to adopting an online selling model. So, for instance, a web store gives the manufacturer the ability to display their full range of products to the buyer, complete with search, filter, and guided selling capabilities for upsell and cross-sell opportunities to capture those greater revenues. Additionally, manufacturers tend to have highly configurable products with different sizes, shapes, colors for any given part. So an online store can make this customization process much more convenient and efficient. So that's kind of just my take. Perhaps more importantly, manufacturers, as we were discussing earlier, are beginning to embrace eCommerce as indispensable because we understand that the B2B buyer is not so radically different from the B2C buyer, as Siyali and Laurence, were suggesting.

Ulrich von Beck: So with Laurence saying the customer wants this. And, Lilliana, you've got these great, great stats to say, yeah, everybody wants to go that way. What's what's holding manufacturers back from actually going ahead and doing it?

Siyali Birari: I'll take that. So there are various factors here, you know, internally before again, right now with the current pandemic situation, there were impediments or hurdles like the lack of leadership awareness or budget. But then after the pandemic, now the entire focus has focus, has changed. Now organizations want to invest in the whole transformation. They are asking the right questions internally they are. They're getting the right people. But factors such as inventory, real time availability of inventory, price availability, customization of prices and then also complex combinations because it's not like you just order one system, it could be customized, that is compatibility to it. And then there's configurations involved. So one of the big challenges is also the data, right? Yes, we want to have a digital presence, but we want this real time data available to show up in the system. So that's one of the biggest challenges. And it's going to be a journey because there are certain organizations which are 70, 80 years old, which they had their own ways of working. And now suddenly everything has to be digital. It has to be integrated. So there's going to be some iterations of the transformation, but those are the like high level issues I see. There's also increased expectation now that everybody knows how to use Amazon or Shopify. They know how they interact, how the interaction is. So there's expectations, there's increased competition, there's, you know, tracking difficulties. Again, going back to the inventory question, also security threats, right? You can't just implement. So you have to also look continuously. Look, look at these implementations and transformation from a security perspective. At the end of the day, we want this entire experience to work for our customers to be seamless. So in our Goodman implementation, we also implemented the mobile feature of it so that partners can actually get onto their phones, get on to the eCommerce site and then start configuring their systems based on availability and the configuration options they have in their network, in their geological, like what is allowed in their state, for example.

Ulrich von Beck: So say you're essentially saying, you know, there was a nudge towards eCommerce the last 18 months or two years of me more like a harder push, let's say, at the executive level towards eCommerce.

Siyali Birari: Exactly Yeah. Before that, they were doing it, but it was in a silo or disconnected way. Now it's like your systems need to be connected.

Ulrich von Beck: So in the Goodman world, Laurence, is, there's some complexity for the customers in configuration, do they want to do that themselves, or would they like their handheld a bit by a sales rep?

Laurence Scharff: Yes, all of the above. So typically in a face to face transaction, a contractor would come in and say, hey, I need a three ton air conditioner with a furnace, fourteen seer, let me run to the restroom. I'll be right back. And the counter? Has a cheat sheet. The counter has or knows based on buying history. Local knowledge that this is what this person wants and they configure it, put it in the ERP order. The guy comes out of the bathroom or gets off his phone or lady and goes and picks it up and off they go. Well, it's rare that someone wants to when they go into the database to configure it themselves, and they say, I want that 14 seer system for ton with an 80% furnace and they get 110 different matches. They're like, I'm not the no. So it's at the same time, though, we see that the day is stretching out and the evening is stretching out. And that counter person or that salesperson is not available. So assisted buying was the way to extend the day and meet the information needs of your customer when they want the information. And our business is very seasonal as well. So in the summer, trying to get bandwidth to get your answer is very difficult, so why not have that available in eCommerce? And that was the number one driving factor, is to simple questions basically make a statement, this is kind of what I want without knowing model numbers and we tell them digitally versus via voice or email.

Ulrich von Beck: It's a great, great story being able to serve your customers how they would like to and at any time of the day, how they would like to be served. Some people don't want to speak to anybody. So that's fantastic. So where does this go? Where? what's the next frontier? You have, you have basic things being configured. You have certain markets being configured. EY, where do you see that, where do you see that going Siyali and Lilliana?

Lilliana Chavez: Sure, I can take that one. So Laurence touched upon it, assisted buying. I think that is so significant to improving the bottom line for manufacturers. You know, it is important to note that guided selling is seller centric, so meaning that it helps guide the sales team to the product configuration process to get to an optimal deal. And that is crucial, and the impact of the business is significant because it accomplish helps them accomplish three highly critical revenue generating tasks. And that means it provides important AI powered data on next best actions and best practices to capture that maximum value from a deal, and that AI generated data is really the next frontier to provide those best practices and inform sales teams of business next best actions. It gives sales leaders powerful insights into pipeline activity. And as a result helps with accurate forecasting, and it helps sales teams execute a coherent go to market strategy while lessening the sales rep workloads, as Laurence alluded to, and reducing the time needed for onboarding and training. So I do have a stat here that showed that guided selling does help sales reps reduce ramp up time by 40%, that's absolutely critical in this fast paced world that we live in, and these factors are especially important within manufacturing, where there are complex product portfolios, configuration rules that entail lengthy, time consuming sales cycles. So just guided selling, even though it sounds basic, is really not. It's very important and crucial. I think that's we're putting that down. Getting excellent at that guided selling process is really the next frontier.

Laurence Scharff: I am, if you don't mind, I'm going to…

Ulrich von Beck: Yeah, yeah.

Laurence Scharff: Lilliana has got some great stats and I'm sitting here when I should be writing these down, but I'm going to give you a little bit more of a practical answer is that when we debuted our eCommerce platform, we got lots of positive feedback. But our biggest negative was, you got to be kidding. That you expect me to know all of your SKUs when typically contractor a COD or company on distribution location has 10,000 different SKUs. And when we beta tested our assisted buying where we weren't asking for SKUs or asking them to do match ups, it was like, this is great. This is great. Thank you. This is awesome. So don't have any statistic statistics to speak of, but I do have the voice of the customer, which says this makes my life so much easier. Thank you. So share wallet what it is.

Ulrich von Beck: You know, Laurence, you've spoken in the past about easy as hard. Yes and I think configuration, buying experience, and guided selling is very hard. From the back end to align all the parts and and I think the team that is assembled here from the visionaries and our customers and EY’s customers like yourself, Laurence at Goodman, backed by the smart teams that EY and some technology that we're quite proud of at PROS is ready to tackle that hard point to really serve our end customers that are expecting easy and there in your case, Laurence, expecting a cold house or a cold office, that's all they want, and we're making it easy for them. So thank you so much for joining the session. Laurence, your insight from the very front lines. See Siyali and Lilliana from your expertise on what you're seeing in the market, and we're really looking forward to the next couple of years as this transformation really starts becoming mainstream and we'll look back at this and say, wow, this was the beginning of the really hard stuff being made easy.

Laurence Scharff: It's been a great partnership and easy is right there on the horizon. So thank you.

Lilliana Chavez: Yeah, thank you.

Ulrich von Beck: Thank you, everybody.

Siyali Birari: Thank you.

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