Classic sales are dead. Long live to sales!
Adaptation of these changes may be the basic requirement for your business to thrive.
The question now, are you ready to adapt?
Sales 4.0 definition
What really is sales 4.0?
The quick answer? It’s the new sales paradigm.
The long, elaborated one? Read on…
The market, under Industry 4.0, is demanding a new way of selling which is about adapting to sell to businesses that are becoming ever more digital and adopting AI to become ever more global.
This approach is now referred to as "Sales 4.0."
So what is Sales 4.0? It does not only mean to sell. It talks about hybrid sales: providing customers with a positive experience online and offline.
Simply put, what Sales 4.0 really is is the digitization of your business.
Let’s dive into what Industry 4.0 implies.
More commonly known as Industry 4.0, the term Fourth Industrial Revolution was used by the World Economic Forum in 2016.
This wave of the industrial revolution is a mix and implementation of every new emerging technology like AI, robotics, blockchain, nanotechnology, IoT, and more.
The key goal of this era of development is to drive manufacturing forward, making it faster, more efficient, and customer-centric while pushing beyond automation and optimization to discover new business opportunities and models.
It is the application of modern technologies into manufacturing.
Let’s take a look at how we’ve come this far by considering the technologies used in the previous industrial revolutions.
First Industrial Revolution: Iron, textile industries, and steam engine.
Second Industrial Revolution: Telephone, bulb, phonograph, and internal combustion Engine
Third Industrial Revolution: computers, internet, and ICT
The most common buzzwords under Industry4.0 are Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
What is AI?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a computer program.
If we, human beings, can learn by observing things, machines also learn from surroundings and are able to “think” on their own.
Simply put, AI allows machines or software to learn from their past experiences so that it can adjust dynamically according to the new inputs and produce accurate outputs.
This flexibility allows the software to perform tasks that may not be possible by hard-coded programs.
Thus, the computer can be trained to perform specific tasks, once it is allowed to ingest large amounts of data from which it can derive different patterns.
Internet of Things (IoT) versus Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of connected machinery, computers, and more, that collect and share data over the internet.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is basically a subset of IoT.
While IoT encompasses everything, IIoT is targeted specifically to industries for improving and automating existing processes by leveraging the use of data acquired by IoT Devices.
What happens in Sales 4.0 B2B?
It is a common belief that the only business models that will prevail are those that respond to the new demands of the changing economic and social behaviors and fully exploit the underlying technological opportunities.
As customer requirements are changing and digital transformations are trending, business models now require rethinking.
Whether or not you are selling Industry 4.0 techs like AI- and IoT-based ones, the way you sell will have to change.
The use of highly integrated, AI-based solutions will change the expectations of enterprises and the shape of B2B sales interactions for good.
Knowing how will help you thrive, close deals, and power growth.
The marriage of AI and IoT: What are the benefits?
As defined above, Industry 4.0 marries AI and IoT, and together, they are changing what we sell and how we sell it.
These technologies offer enormous benefits to customers and a wide array of opportunities for growth.
Success in selling these deals demands a different focus on a wide range of elements in terms of how you articulate value, navigate the client’s organization and work with partners.
That’s because Sales 4.0 demands new skill sets, approaches, and competitive strategies.
Here’s a classic example of this approach.
Enel and C3.ai: A Sales 4.0 Study
In 2013, C3.ai, a venture of the Silicon Valley legend Tom Siebel, implemented an enterprise AI solution for Enel, a multinational energy company and one of the world’s leading integrated electricity and gas operators.
This project with C3.ai was to apply AI-based fraud detection, targeting to double the recovery of unbilled energy while making the business process more efficient.
The solution prioritizes potential cases of energy fraud (or theft) at service points, considering the amount of potential energy recovery and the likelihood of fraud at each customer meter.
This is a great use case for AI to copy and match the performance of complex tasks learned from human experts.
Compare this automation to using conventional techniques that take huge amounts of time and highly experienced teams using tools that haven’t changed in decades!
In this example, C3.ai and Enel are proving the value of integrating AI, IoT at an industrial enterprise scale.
Such is the power of Industry 4.0. This is what Sales 4.0 is all about!
What sales 4.0 can do is much more important than what it is.
When it comes to sales, what works is not talking about your product but about what it can do for end-users — in terms of efficiency, operating cost reduction, or safety for instance.
Here are some important caveats for what Sales 4.0 is and how it will help your business to thrive:
1. Be relentless about your value proposition
Communicating your value proposition powerfully is a real challenge.
If you are in the tech business, doing so even poses a great necessity and demand.
You need to adapt your approach to your client’s perceptions and values over the course of the business.
Some target industries are even less open to new technology, which definitely makes your job a bit harder.
When you articulate and quantify the value of your product, you need a clear understanding of how it translates to more revenue, less cost, or some other valuable measure to your customer.
And here’s what’s even more challenging: Since the benefits of these products (again, we’re assuming tech business here) may only be realized in the future (e.g. only when AI training data is processed or a new service line is developed), it is important to let your prospects know what the shorter-term gains are.
2. Wield long-lasting relationships
Sales 4.0 demands new types of partner relationships to be formed and presents new opportunities for those partnerships.
This needs ample consideration of the roles and type of interaction with third parties in wider and more innovative ways.
However, as with all partnerships, mutual value is always the key.
You need to understand what you and the other party can bring to the table,
What can each gain in this partnership? Why is the combination more valuable than the sum of its parts?
3. Watch out for new products and revenue streams
What is sales 4.0 without revenue streams?
From the case study above, one of the key functions of the C3.ai/Enel project was to identify fraud by using AI to analyze consumption data from millions of IoT smart meters.
It would be reasonable to assume that this intensive analysis could yield other vital information that could drive new product or service offerings.
What if such analysis also singled out patterns in the energy usage of individual consumers?
That data could be converted into useful information and be given out to consumers via smart devices - “Hey Alexa, how am I doing on my energy usage this week?”
The same data could also yield vital findings in regard to the behavior of the smart meters, their performance, and reliability.
This goes to show that what Sales 4.0 is - the use of Ai and IoT in your business - is generating numerous opportunities to introduce new service offerings, products, and revenue streams across B2B and B2B2C businesses.
Most businesses and decision-makers want to understand the possibilities of Sales 4.0 in the context of “what it can do for them” rather than trying to understand what it really is.
So what is Sales 4.0? It’s a never-complete journey. It’s made up of numerous individual steps that will require new initial decisions from time to time.
Remember, the goal here is to provide a seamless customer experience through and through.
If you learn to adapt, there are great opportunities for game-changing benefits that await your business.
Long live to sales!