What is it with today’s B2B customers? Have you noticed that your buyers are spoiled by B2C sellers that make it way too easy to shop, compare, buy, review, automate and do pretty much anything and everything whenever and wherever they want online?
If you’re a B2B salesperson or a reseller of B2B products and services, it probably feels like buyers would rather do ANYTHING than respond to your emails, talk on the phone, or meet with you in-person. But why?
It’s Not You, It’s Them
We’ve already said plenty about how modern buyers have evolved into discerning, experience-driven consumers who expect value at every interaction. The oft-prescribed solution for catering to these customers is channel shifting your offerings online, but according to research from Forrester, there’s more to being successful than going digital.
In fact, according to a recent survey by Forrester Consulting, many B2B companies desire a 50/50 split between ecommerce sales and their traditional sales methods.
The fact is that B2B buying is different from B2C: Complex and highly configurable products, bundling, pricing changes, not to mention the fact that many of these purchases are costly and incredibly important to the business. We’re not just talking about ordering a box of pencils, we’re talking about fleet vehicles, industrial heating and cooling products, and more.
This isn’t just B2B companies being stubborn about selling their products through traditional as well as online platforms. Consider some of the figures from Forrester’s report, “Build A Seller Development Framework To Improve The Buying Experience”:
When buyers were asked what type of purchases they prefer to complete by consulting with a sales rep, 64% said “when it’s expensive”; 67% said “when it’s complex”, 67% said “when negotiating a price”, 82% said “when it requires installation”, and 91% said “when it requires service”.
The numbers show that although buyers probably prefer to initiate these high-cost/high-value purchase on their own, they’re going to need some hand-holding along the way to complete the transaction and obtain services down the road. Furthermore, B2B companies are actively trying to provide customers a connected omnichannel experience.
How Do You Get B2B Buyers to Start Talking to You?
To capitalize on the opportunity of attracting and retaining today’s buyers, businesses need to consider strategies and technologies that empower rather than replace their direct sales teams.
Consider the following to make sure your business can service the needs and expectations of modern buyers while simultaneously ensuring direct and indirect sales benefits from your commerce strategy:
1. Do a better job of identifying and segmenting your buyers.
There are many different types of buyers: The loyal ones, the fickle ones, those who make large purchases, those who only buy in small quantities, those who never ask for anything extra, those who are a drain on your customer service team, etc.
By syncing your marketing and sales efforts, you can better ensure optimal leads and prospects get to your sales team, that those buyers are best suited for online purchasing, and that your services are directed appropriately. This allows your sales team to focus on high-value customers while ensuring those small-time buyers aren’t a drain on your resources.
2. Provide your company (and customers) with the tools to succeed.
This is often a painful topic for companies looking to shift towards a blended sales, vendor, and ecommerce model. Retiring outdated systems, training employees on new tools, shifting customers online, these and numerous other factors can devour time, money, and resources.
To truly evolve, however, companies must embrace the latest technologies while making smart choices about which vendors and solutions they choose. This means considering the unique needs of your company and customers to find a vendor that understands and aligns with what you hope to accomplish.
3. Train your sales team and get everyone onboard.
Today’s B2B sales environment isn’t like the cold calling, close deals on the golf course, three-martini lunches of old. Instead, it’s about hiring and training sales professionals who can meet the expectations of the Millennial generation: Efficient, values social and corporate responsibility, works collaboratively, gathers consensus before making decisions, negotiates informally, and responds to authenticity.
To be successful, businesses must hire people who can adapt to or align with this latest generation of buyers and stakeholders. Furthermore, companies need to provide the training and tech resources necessary to keep up with buyers while staying ahead of the competition.
4. Put your data to work for your entire organization.
Modern sellers know the value of clean, useful data. Whether mapping out the buyer’s journey, analyzing customer behavior, improving content, product and pricing, altering delivery methods, or measuring the effectiveness of marketing and sales initiatives, there are countless insights to be gleaned and leveraged from your business and customer data.
Start Aligning Your Sales Team with Today’s Buyers
At FPX, we understand that to be successful in today's’ B2B space, companies need to understand the needs and preferences of both their customers as well as their sellers. As one of the leading Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) vendors in the market, we know the importance of connecting direct, indirect, and ecommerce channels, harnessing the power of big data, and ensuring all users and customers benefit from a value-driven experience.
To learn more about our FPX CPQ solution and how we can help you achieve your ecommerce goals while empowering sales, check out the Forrester Wave report below and get in touch with us today!