Covid-19 has changed the B2B buying landscape. Even the most reluctant eCommerce adopters have had to get on board with making their purchases online. It’s no wonder that eCommerce penetration saw 10 years of growth in just 3 months when the pandemic hit in early 2020, and 1/3 of all US business is now being channeled through eCommerce. But such growth doesn’t come without growing pains. In our recent webinar with Motion Industries, we talked about the challenges B2B companies are facing with the new digital sales dynamic and how to get sales reps and customers fully invested.
eCommerce simplifies ordering.
Your website should be about making the buying experience simple, fast, and convenient. Customers should want to use your website, especially for commoditized orders and reorders that don’t require sales rep expertise. For example, if your customer wants to place a reorder, your search software should be ready with information on past orders, ‘buy it again’ prompts and recommendations of companion products to purchase. Fast page-load speeds will also keep customers engaged, adding to cart and buying.
eCommerce isn’t just for small-ticket B2B purchases.
Over the past several months, homebound B2B buyers have become comfortable enough with eCommerce that they no longer limit themselves to small-ticket orders. A 2020 McKinsey study found that B2B buyers would be comfortable making large new purchases and reorders online. In fact, 70% of B2B decision-makers said they would be willing to make purchases of more than $50k, and 27% said they would spend more than $500k – all through digital self-service and remote interactions with sales reps.
Finding the right balance between self-service and concierge service.
The key to success lies in understanding the buyer's journey and identifying points where there is a negative value in sales rep intervention. Your eCommerce site should enable customers to self serve while using AI and machine learning to guide them along the way. Giving customers online access to your real-time inventory by location/warehouse will also help them in their planning and decision making.
A rep’s time is better spent providing personalized guidance and expert knowledge to nurture the buying process, rather than getting between a customer and simple orders. The trick lies in finding the right balance. Demographics can play a large part in the service your customers prefer. Millennial and digital native buyers tend to be more comfortable with online self-service while older buyers may need more rep face time, whether digital or in person. The most successful companies provide an omnichannel experience that involves both intelligent eCommerce and concierge-level service from reps.
Online buying can surface more products.
The pandemic has brought opportunities for reps to engage with customers in different ways and even showcase different products. Gone are the days when sales reps would thumb through a massive pile of catalog pages when choosing what to present to clients. With properly classified online catalogs filled with enriched data, buyers and reps can use your powerful search functions to call up a relevant list of products. Ultimately, a combination of online merchandising and sales rep expertise can help surface all appropriate products and help drive sales revenues.
eCommerce can provide actionable data to sales reps.
While your eCommerce site should be of huge value to reps when serving up information to their customers, it should also provide intelligence on what their customers are searching for, what kind of knowledge they are seeking and what products they are viewing. The best sites will even enable customers to connect with reps via chat windows. Your reps can be fed information and be connected to customers through your digital platform, providing valuable support to their sales efforts. The best reps will use your site’s search and navigation, as well as your customer analytics, as selling tools to ensure they place the right products in the right customers’ hands.
Driving adoption from the top.
Spiffs and contests can help motivate reps to get their customers signed up and registered for your online shop. But what really drives adoption is strong leadership. The real force behind your change management should be your leadership team selling your sales force on why your eCommerce site can be one of the best tools in their toolkits. Also, look to the natural influencers within your company to lead the charge at the peer level. Secure internal buy-in and you will have enthusiastic evangelists driving outside customer adoption.
Make sure your reps are comfortable with all the functions that customers will regularly use, like checking inventory by location, sourcing invoice copies, finding tracking numbers, and tracking orders through the supply chain, in addition to the product search functionality on your site. The more comfortable reps are when using your site, the more comfortable they will be in recommending that their customers sign-on.
Once onboard, B2B customers love the convenience of buying online, from the remote human interactions to the digital self-service. In fact, up to 80% of B2B decision-makers around the globe prefer the new digital buying paradigm. Your eCommerce and your sales model need to fall in step.
Want to learn how Motion Industries upgraded their eCommerce site, got thousands of buyers and sales reps on board, and achieved double-digit sales growth? Watch the on-demand webinar now.