15 February 2021

COVID-19: Adapting to the new normal

Werner Handelsmann, VP Sales & Marketing –  Europe Africa

Long before the pandemic, the influence of technology and digital trends were already impacting how we go to market in a business-to-business environment. Established ERP connections between Weidmann and our larger customers were adopted, with conference and video call technology a common occurrence. But today, we seem to be at a digital inflection point. B2B sales are fundamentally different now from what they were before the pandemic, and will likely continue in this way thereafter.

Before the pandemic, my team would blend technology with face-to-face meetings, exhibitions, and other tools that enabled us to build strong relationships with our customers. Investing in these relationships and maintaining a stable sales team has benefited Weidmann as we today find ourselves in a more technology-focused environment. Having an established and strong relationship takes a lot of the burden out of a video or electronic interaction with a customer.

Servicing the energy sector as an ‘essential business’ has thankfully resulted in us not seeing any significant reduction in the requirements of our customers for our products or services. But the present uncertainty creates new challenges for me. My focus has shifted towards ensuring that our customers continue to receive the required product and service delivery despite logistical challenges, such as delays at border crossings. At the same time, I am spending more time on taking care of my sales team as many of the team members are today often isolated in regional or home offices.

Of course, our spending patterns have changed as we reduced travel costs and investments in industry face-to-face events. But we now look to invest in other areas to enable us to further expand the way we work effectively with our customers. At Weidmann, we had already started implementing digital tools to communicate with the outside world, specifically our customers. In my opinion, the importance of digital channels has increased dramatically as we find new ways to share information and content within our industry.

The importance of digital interactions also goes beyond social media and web content. Sales transactions executed digitally can significantly improve efficiency – not only for Weidmann but also for our customers – and increase ‘ease of doing business’ between the two parties. . Offering customers Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) through SAP has enabled Weidman to provide that connection.

We are still on our journey towards developing a fully digital experience for our customers, but it is a path that we are embracing, and in a way, the global pandemic has heightened its awareness and the need for investment in this area.

As we adapt the way we structure the customer experience and sales processes during the current environment, I also have to look to the future and plan for recovery post-pandemic. Looking at the market today, as a company our top priority is to gain a clear view of what our customers will need in the future, and how we as a sales organization and company can address these needs. It is my strong belief that the human touch will still play a crucial role. How we create a hybrid solution that blends the new remote digital world many of us have become accustomed to with the historically more face-to-face events is still to be defined.

For more information on EDI connectivity and other digital solutions from Weidmann <CLICK HERE>