In the B2B world, self-service commerce is a game changer. The technology brings consumer-like digital buying capabilities to the complex world of B2B, enhancing the buying and selling experience for both customers and salespeople.
Self-service is so effective at improving the customer experience that it’s become table stakes for B2B businesses. A 2017 Salesforce study found that 89% of B2B decision makers believe that self-service commerce will play a factor in the growth of their business in the years to come.
In addition to improving the customer experience, self-service commerce equips salespeople with a tool for building a new kind of relationship with buyers -- one that allows them to provide customers with guidance and strategy, rather than simply order taking.
So, as self-service in B2B becomes a more widely adopted commerce channel, it’s important to know how it can help your sales teams thrive.
Why self-service is a win-win for your customers and sales teams
As more buyers turn to self-service offerings to research and purchase online, salespeople may rightfully feel some concern about the future of their jobs. However, self-service commerce in B2B shouldn’t be viewed as a threat to the sales role. Instead, it can help salespeople transform the way they interact with and assist their customers.
In fact, self-service in B2B delivers a range of benefits to both customers and sales teams, including:
Improved customer intelligence: Self-service commerce sites collect an enormous amount of data about customers that can be shared with existing CRM systems. Salespeople can see every customer’s purchase history, delivery needs, and customized pricing structures. Armed with this information, salespeople are much more effective when they’re in front of clients. They can go into meetings knowing the customer’s history, and focus on upselling, cross-selling, and offering recommendations as a strategic partner.
Frictionless buying: The B2B buying process can be complicated, especially if buyers need to call sales representatives for small, routine orders. A self-service option gives buyers the power to make purchases much like they would as consumers, reducing the friction associated with B2B buying. In an age where business buyers are more digitally savvy than ever before, an intuitive self-service experience can go a long way toward cultivating loyalty by reducing obstacles on the path to purchase.
More time to build relationships: Self-service allows customers to complete simple transactions on their own, which frees up sellers to focus on what they do best -- building and maintaining relationships with customers. Additionally, a salesperson’s day often involves a lot of administrative work that customers can do themselves in a self-service environment. With more time on their hands, salespeople can reallocate their time to acquiring new customers and maintaining relationships with current ones.
Takeaway: Differentiate your services to stand out
The world of B2B selling is changing so dramatically that you need a digital tool in your briefcase to interact with customers today. Buyers expect to be able to purchase something as complex as machinery the same way they buy shoes on Zappos. That means a basic ecommerce site will no longer cut it.
One way to stand out in an industry where leading companies embrace digital is to make the process as intuitive and simple as possible. Invest in dynamic ecommerce systems that allow you to customize your site for each customer, including the company’s branding, tailored product recommendations, and personalized pricing structures. Customized sites create a 1:1 relationship that keeps buyers loyal for the long term.
Your organization’s salespeople can also help differentiate the brand by cultivating valuable, consultative relationships with customers. While digital revolutionizes the way businesses interact with each other, the salesperson won’t go away any time soon. Salespeople can generate loyalty offline by serving as strategic advisors for customers, further strengthening trust.
In the end, self-service in the B2B marketplace allows buyers to take control of their consumer experience while giving the brand power to integrate sales with customer data to better predict and understand buyer needs and focus on the ongoing customer relationship.
Learn more about how Salesforce B2B Commerce can help your sales teams thrive today.