Salesclub is pleased to introduce you interview with Marcus East – an international technology executive and consultant CDO/CIO/CTO with huge experience of working in the Information Technology, specialising in Digital Transformations and Electronic Commerce. We will touch upon the topics such as customer journey, digital transformation in B2B, connection between B2B and B2C. You can watch interview from Pardavimų formulė 2017 right here.
20 years of experience working with the most famous brands such as ABM, Apple, Marks & Spencer: Could you tell us more about a customer journey? What do you think about shifting towards digital? What has actually changed?
It is a brilliant question. I think there are number of things in particular to a customer journey and customer experience. 20 years ago organizations were very focused on publishing information. For example, taking a brochure, product information, making that available. That’s not good enough any more.
As I mentioned in my presentation, personalization is key. Being able to have digital experience that personalizes things for visitors, so they see things that are relevant to them, is really significant. But actually the biggest potential is in how you can integrate digital into physical experience. If you are a retailer, the idea that somebody can go to the store and pick up the products of the shelf, scan it and leave, it is quite powerful. Apple did that with their Apple store; you can go to the store, pick something up of the shelf, scan it yourself and go.
Customers love that. I think the opportunities for the future are to find ways to integrate digital into physical experience.
Referring to the digital store, you mentioned that Brick and Motor stores are closing, entire Moza is shutting their doors in the United States. E-commerce occupies only 8 to 10 percent of all the sales. People are actually buying offline. What is going to happen in the near future? How companies can actually decide to invest in e-commerce or digital channels?
In order to answer this question, we need to get back to your previous question about the customer journey and customer experience. What I have seen in the last few years that customers move from digital to physical. That is a typical part of their buying journey now.
So if you want to be successful, you have to acknowledge that they will do all research online and buy a product physically. They also might do the research online and come to visit your store but buy the product elsewhere. For example, Apple does not sell all its products directly; some of their products are sold by retail organizations.
You have to accept that customers are going to use whatever channel or whatever method is appropriate for them. One of the areas that really excite me is Chatbox, from the B2C perspective: customers love just being able to chat whenever. You are sitting in the tube in London and you are interested in the pair of shoes, let me get some more information.
The key to success is to understand that people are still going to buy things offline, but they might make decision in the digital space and you have to be in both. You have to connect those two experiences.
You spend most of your career working for the large organizations such as Marks & Spencer. Could you tell us more about that experience? It is a big organization and they usually are moving quite slow. Also, it is difficult to embrace Omni-channel for such organizations. How do you overcome those obstacles, how do you convince top managers to make the first step and choose Omni-channel instead of one-channel?
It is very hard. In my presentation I talked about the success in Silicon Valley. Some of them are based on agility and wanting to fail fast, for me, that would be the difference between success and failure for big organizations, particularly retailers. You cannot plan a strategy over 5 years and think that these things are going to shape your business. You have to embrace the idea of experimentation; innovation is a core for a big company.
I am not sure if it is right to have Chief Innovation Officer because it has to be across the whole organizations. But you have to have a team of people who are empowered to experiment. For example, Apple does that really well. If you have a fantastic idea, build it, prototype it. Uber is changing their software all the time; Facebook releases multiple new editions every day.
However, it is hard for a big organization, but you need to start with small things. You need to support your big strategies with small innovation, happening in small places in your organization. When you achieve success, you can scale it, grow, learn from it and adapt. There are some really great examples of big companies who have been able to do that. For example, there is an insurance company, which uses AI [artificial intelligence] to come up with new insurance policies for customers. All they are asked to do is not to fill any information about themselves, they just need to upload their existing insurance document and it does all the work for them. This is a really good example of innovation.
How B2B companies can learn from B2C? We tend to see that B2C companies are always ahead because of simplicity, education, easy transactions online, but B2B is more complex. How B2B can embrace that experience to close deals faster?
I believe that selling either in B2B or B2C level is about people. Some of the presenters talked about the idea of human-to-human contact that, for me, is a key. You can think about the ways how you can differently engage with human beings, just make sure that the messages you give are personalized and relevant. That is really important.
You can also find ways to better qualify people who contact your organization. Some of them can see your email and say: Hey, I am interested in a particular component. In a busy organization, these emails are usually put on a side. But if organization notices that this email came from the person’s personal email address and looks up on LinkedIn and it turns out that it is from CEO of a big engineering company. They better response to that in appropriate way.
It is a lot to be learned, it starts with customer experience, being data-driven is important as well. If you look to B2C company, they often have a lot of data of all of its customers: how often they visit the website, how often they purchase, what their preferences are. In B2B space, there is an opportunity to develop the same data-driven approach. You do not want to make a sales call in the blind, but rather you want to have some data about how that person behaves in order to make a right call.
Let’s talk about the future. How companies are going to sell in 3-5 years? If you personally have 10 mln. dollars, where do you invest that?
I do think, artificial intelligence will have a really big impact on how companies operate. A lot of reasons I talked in my presentation, such as providing people better insights, helping to automate the work they do, but the most important of all – driving efficiency.
I have seen really incredible start-up organizations, which take existing models and apply things in a different way. In the States there is an insurance company called Metromile, they decided that it would be great to take the fact that people do not drive as much as they used to. They come up with the new insurance model. They provide a small device, you plug it in your car, and they will only charge you when you are driving. It is insurance per mile. What is interesting about that is that they took technology, found the way to apply it to business-to-consumer (B2C) based space but now taking the same thinking they need to identify ways how they can apply it to business-to-business (B2B) space.
If I want to invest 10 mln euros, I do think artificial intelligence is one of those areas, but I am also looking to robotics such as a robotic receptionist in Japan or an idea that you can actually have sales people that sell things in more automotive way, that quite excites me as well.
Talking about small markets such as Lithuania or Baltic States. What would be your advise for CEOs taking their first steps towards digital? Should we take a look at the United States or should we look for the best practices and only adapt those, which are actually working for small markets?
Ultimately, the best way to launch the business in Europe, in Baltics, is it to learn what is happening in another countries and to do something that is really powerful for your market place. I was doing some consulting in Asia recently. One of the things I see there was that a lot of investors are looking for companies that have a niche and a really strong hold in their core market place in domestic market, and they want to be able to replicate that out.
So if you have a really good idea in Lithuania, execute it in Lithuania, prove the concept. If you become a dominant player, you will make yourself more attractive to investors.
Why would you recommend becoming a part of sales communities such as Salesclub or B2B communities?
I think it is important to be part of network communities like Salesclub. You have an opportunity to share knowledge and insights and that is a key. There is a certain amount we can do ourselves but we are busy with our individual tasks, we often do not have a chance to step back and think. I really encourage people to take advantage of things like Salesclub as an opportunity to learn from others and develop ideas.
The other important thing is networking, since it is about people. The best ideas that I had came from conversation with other people, not even from my industry. Building that strong network helped me in my career.
Prepared by Martyna Kasmauskaitė.