How is digital commerce transforming B2B sales?
Lockdowns during the pandemic ushered in new developments and gave momentum to changes that were already underway. With the most prominent of them being undoubtedly the expansion of digital commerce, companies understand the need to embrace new ways of doing business even if that requires changing their entire organization.
Digital commerce, a theme now larger than e-commerce, is dominating the minds of businesses that aim to shape the full scope of their customers’ experiences. Seeing that large clients expect the same digital experience as individual consumers, B2B businesses are aggressively pursuing automated solutions to optimize their sales processes, reduce costs, and grab more customers.
While optimizing sales lies at the core of any digital commerce initiative, it would be a mental mistake and a false strategic approach to see it as only enabling customers to buy things online. What sets digital commerce apart from e-commerce is that it is not only about the customer ordering something online but rather about the whole experience being unified in a single place.
Businesses want to easily search, compare, select, change parts of their orders with a transparent display of the costs and a smooth journey from entrance through checkout, without having their experience be abruptly cut off by forceful and disorienting redirections to places outside the digital store. Throughout the entire length of the buying experience, businesses, like people, also prefer the easy way of having things taken care of in one place.
The other side of the coin is the B2B seller, which is perhaps more crucial. Tying the different stages of the buyer’s experience in a single place is equivalent to handling the internal stages of the seller from a single place. Without a serious understanding of what needs to be done internally, sellers cannot reap the benefits of digitalization. To offer buyers a seamless journey, sellers must integrate their internal processes such as marketing, inventory management, order processing, payment, and delivery, so that their digital systems can satisfy their customers’ demands.
The rise of a new B2B sales model
A larger number of B2B buyers are millennials, which is causing the rise in demand for more seamless and personalized experiences in B2B sales. As a result of the changing demographics, B2B sellers have an incentive to make their sales faster, error-free, and more intuitive for the user.
The appeal of digital sales is evident in the purchasing behavior of B2B buyers. According to another survey, B2B clients largely prefer digital interactions to talking to sales representatives, which means that handling the sales process over email or phone is highly inefficient and likely turns the customer away, decreasing the prospect-to-customer conversion rate. B2B clients want to be able to research independently and have a self-explanatory journey, so they can manage most things by themselves except when they need specific guidance.
However, there is a caveat. The digitalization of B2B sales doesn’t necessarily mean eliminating sales representatives altogether, which is out of question. Instead, it requires companies to equip their sales teams with the necessary skills to use new technologies to help the customers. There is a necessary fusion or merge that needs to happen with the ways in which sales reps work and the new technologies that transform the business. It calls for a balance between calculated movement and brave experimentation.
As a result, more and more B2B organizations with digital commerce capabilities are building additional features on their digital platforms to enable their clients to configure products. B2B organizations are finding major value in this strategy, which is evidenced by the fact that they are twice as likely as B2C organizations to sell customizable products on their websites.
What are the benefits of automation for B2B sales?
Automation benefits the customer, as it improves the overall customer experience by making product recommendations and configurations more intuitive and efficient. The customer journey is tied end-to-end from a self-sufficient search phase to the final order, which maximizes the customer’s chance of completing the purchase successfully. In return, the business is able to scale its revenues much faster.
Minimization of technical errors leads to seamless buyer journeys
When visiting a seller’s website, buyers can face a number of different problems that affect their transactional experiences negatively. Websites that do not have an automated sales process often take too long when processing orders. Sometimes customers may not find the right products because the website is too confusing, not understand how the delivery works, or face bugs in the payment process.
The technical problems that cause B2B businesses to lose customers can come in varying shapes and sizes, so there is no point in listing every potential problem. However, all of them are bound together by the same root cause: a lack of automation in the overall sales process. Automation of the sales process is a key aspect of elevating customer satisfaction and keeping them loyal to your business.
Delighting the customers leads to long-term relationships
Since executives that are running large businesses today are more tech-savvy, they expect the same level of personalization that they experience as online consumers in their normal lives. This means that even large enterprises making complex purchases want to enjoy a B2C-like customer journey that runs frictionlessly from configuring products, seeing quotes, and finalizing the delivery.
The desire to improve customer satisfaction is driving most of the B2B digital commerce initiatives. Most initiatives focus on creating user experiences that are easy and intuitive even when the order is large and complex. As a result, more businesses are shifting their focus to building B2B sales channels that have B2C features.
24/7 availability and global access
Eliminating the use of Excel spreadsheets and processing orders automatically enables businesses to become unrestrained by time zones and geographic distances. A website that processes orders automatically can practically turn a B2B organization into a virtual shop with no “Closed” sign.
However, more importantly, businesses become able to transcend all geographic limitations and do business with customers from all around the world. This is an immense growth opportunity that wouldn’t be possible without automation.This means that B2B organizations have a strong incentive to incorporate automated sales solutions, since those will be the ultimate winners.
Automated sales processes reduces costs
Even though B2B customers don’t order online as frequently, they tend to place much larger orders that match their B2C counterparts in transaction value. As websites have relatively low operating costs, the uninterrupted sales flow that they can generate makes them lucrative platforms for B2B organizations.
A sales process that is not enabled by automation can end up becoming costly for a B2B business. As order sizes and complexities are much larger compared to B2C, there is a significant deal of consultation that happens between the customers and the sales representatives. Without automation, this process takes too long and can be complicated, which only increases the likelihood of the deal not happening in the end.
By reducing the time and effort invested in the sales process, businesses can eliminate overhead costs, which ultimately supports operating margins and enables faster scaling.
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