It feels like the B2B sales process has been the same forever. The travelling salesman on the road, driving from place to place, searching for the best diner along the way.
But 'the times they are a-changing' - thanks Bob Dylan!
Here are 5 changes you need to be aware of…
1. The balance of power is shifting from the seller to the buyer. But why?
The sales rep used to be in charge. In they would stroll, with their bag of wares, confidently telling the customer what would sell. Most of the time, the customer would listen and probably buy what was offered to him. After all, the sales rep was the main (if not only) source of purchasing information.
But over the years the demographics of B2B buyers has changed. Recent google research showed that the percentage of B2B buyers in the 18 to 34 age bracket has increased from 27% to 46%. There has been an increase in younger people occupying B2B buyer roles. The Economist estimates that millennials occupied 34% of business positions in 2015, versus the 29% occupied by baby boomers.
Younger buyers are much more accustomed to using technology in their personal lives as consumers and they are bringing that experience and familiarity with technology in to their professional lives. They have experience of researching product information online, enabling them to feel more empowered than previously. They are extremely well-informed, sometimes as much as the sales rep and so no longer as reliant upon them, because of online sales apps.
2. B2B sales are moving online
As the mobile technology platform continues to develop, more B2B wholesalers and distributors are embracing it in order to streamline their sales process and keep up with the competition. According to research by Forrester, 6 out of 10 B2B buyers would prefer to buy online, rather than meet face-to-face with a sales rep.
B2B eCommerce can provide a competitive edge for the B2B sellers who embrace it, improving both sales efficiency, and customer satisfaction and generating more revenue.
Offering B2B eCommerce to buyers not only provides 24/7 purchasing opportunities it also gives wholesalers and brands an additional chance to influence purchasing by offering promotions during the purchasing process and highlighting new products. Making purchasing more convenient and accessible encourages repeat purchases and long-term customer loyalty.
A B2B commerce platform that has both online and offline sales options means your B2B customers can choose the channel they prefer. Bearing in mind that the average B2B buyer uses 6 different channels during their buying journey, having an omnichannel strategy is becoming essential.
If that hasn’t convinced you, what about this? Omnichannel B2B companies are reporting that customers who began buying online after buying offline for years, increased their spending in offline channels!
4. The changing role of the sales rep
B2B eCommerce is changing the role of the sales rep. As B2B mobile sales platforms are taking over the job of routine order-taking, their time is freed up to take on a more consultative role. As conventional sales techniques are no longer so relevant in the digital age, sales people need to be far more customer-centric, acting as a trusted adviser.
5. B2B online sales need to be compelling
In an ever more competitive environment, and with more people involved in purchasing decisions, the sales presentation platform needs to be more compelling.
A beautiful e-catolog can help your sales reps to display your products in an attractive and clear format. Whether you are presenting to the buyers in person or they are ordering online themselves, this can set you above the competition and provide an elevated buying experience.
The real takeaway here is – don’t be scared of technology. See what is available, research thoroughly and embrace it. It is the future!