B2B sales are being transformed by B2B ecommerce. Omnichannel experiences are now becoming as commonplace as they are in B2C ecommerce. Younger, savvier B2B buyers expect 24/7 engagement in all their favourite places.
It’s no longer enough to have a website and a friendly attitude. Businesses need the right information, the right strategy, and an arsenal of digital solutions.
B2B buyers have different priorities than B2C customers. Since B2B buyers are often making high-value purchases to meet specific needs, they’re not likely to buy impulsively. They also have to think about long-term issues and work with multiple departments. This makes their customer experience more complex than a B2C consumer’s. In other words, the B2C consumer buys emotionally; the B2B buyer purchases logically.
Instead of marketing blasts, B2B buyers want to be presented with detailed information that’s easy to access.
The majority of B2B buyers find speaking to a salesperson helpful during the research process but prefer to avoid it when reordering. Setting up one-click reordering or recurring subscriptions can help win over the B2B buyer.
B2B buyers are looking for products that meet rational pre-set criteria. They may already have a list of requirements around price and performance, so B2C revenue-drivers like upselling and cross-selling aren’t effective B2B sales techniques.
B2B ecommerce isn’t B2C ecommerce, and even today there are some differences when selling. But that doesn’t mean that businesses should approach B2B sales like it’s still the 1990s.
Today’s buyers and purchase influencers are young, savvy products of the digital age. They expect personalised engagement and omnichannel experiences. And they want sellers to meet them on their home turf, whenever they please. Throw in their attention to ethical practices, and the old B2B sales playbook can be ripped up and thrown in the bin next to the fax machines and rotary phones.
To thrive in B2B sales today, companies need to focus on giving buyers what they want: a sleek, highly tuned digital experience. Here are some ways to drive B2B sales:
Research is an important aspect of every sales process, but understanding the needs of the prospective B2B buyer is especially important. B2B buyers often have tight remits and complex queries, so getting to grips with their industry and potential concerns is key.
According to the Salesforce e-book, Transforming the B2B Sales Function, 86% of B2B salespeople say that having a connected view of customer data across marketing, sales, and service is important for increasing customer satisfaction.
With digital solutions like Salesforce’s Commerce Cloud, B2B organisations can connect their departments and provide a 360 view of the customer.
AI and machine learning are reinventing both B2B ecommerce and B2C ecommerce, surfacing the most promising leads and suggesting the best steps. Salesforce’s research reveals that high-performing sales teams are 4.9 times more likely than underperforming sales teams to have already used AI to provide opportunity insights and intelligent forecasting.
Digital solutions allow sales agents to do what they do best: sell. This may seem like it shouldn’t be an issue, but the average salesperson spends over 65% of their time on non-selling activities. Using automation and introducing self-service options can let salespeople tend to their customers.
This is an easy one. Many B2B customers complain about slow response times, so the companies that respond quickly will win over those customers. In a world of 24/7 engagement, there’s no excuse for snoozing on the customer experience.
High-value B2B sales tend to be impactful across the entire organisation, so there’s a lot of anxiety about getting it wrong. Understanding the pain points of the B2B buyer is important – offering solutions is even better. According to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report, 78% of B2B buyers seek salespeople who can function as trusted advisors.
In the end, B2B is really P2P – person to person. B2B relationships tend to last longer than B2C relationships, which are often one-and-done purchases. So when communicating with potential leads, try to engage with decision-makers personally.
Young B2B buyers are more attuned to ethical messaging than their predecessors. Altruism may have been considered less important than something like cost-value relationship on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs model, but it’s a decisive factor for millennials.
These younger B2B buyers tend to only approach sellers after they’ve already done their research, and they’re not likely to approach at all if it appears that your values don’t align with theirs.
Engaging customers in the places where they spend their time makes sense, so B2B organisations need to up their social media game. Studies have shown that 20% of business users now use social media as their primary form of communication, so don’t neglect the value of these channels in B2B sales.
It’s true that B2B buyers don’t make emotionally driven purchases in the same way that B2C customers do. It’s also true that they’re only human. B2B buyers want to know that they’re not falling behind their competitors, so make sure to share plenty of customer success stories highlighting the benefits of new products or services.
For companies without the right tools, B2B ecommerce channels are empty stages waiting for a story to be told. For companies that have prepared for this moment, the excited customers are already queuing up. It’s time to roll out the red carpet, open the doors and raise the curtain – B2B sales is ready for its spotlight.
To read more about how B2B ecommerce is set to take off, check out the Forrester report, “B2B Embraces Its Omnichannel Commerce Future”.