B2B eCommerce forecast projections do not equate actual adoption. Based on Gartner's estimate, 80% of sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will be online by 2025. But according to a recent DHL survey, only 18% of B2B businesses have implemented B2B eCommerce.
So what is preventing B2B businesses from embracing B2B eCommerce? Surprisingly, sales reps are the ones hampering B2B eCommerce take-up. Just over 70% of B2B decision-makers believe that a conflict with sales reps is inevitable when switching to B2B eCommerce.
Many sales reps will want to cling on as long as possible, but in today’s sales world, that simply won’t be an option. Today’s eCommerce-driven sales environment requires a different approach—and that approach can be tricky for some reps. We are still living in a transition period where there are often two camps: those who resist change (no matter how beneficial) and those who embrace it.
Why are Sales Reps Resistant to B2B eCommerce?
Here are three main reasons your sales reps will oppose B2B eCommerce:
1. Sales reps fear losing control over customer relationships: Sales reps are territorial about their accounts and don't like giving up control to a computer program or other sales rep who might take away one of their best clients.
2. Sales reps fear losing control over information: Information is power in sales, and many salespeople see their information as proprietary data not easily shared with others inside or outside the company who may be able to use it effectively.
3. Sales reps fear lost income: Many salespeople think they'll earn less money if they start using an order management system. They think they'll be forced into territory where they don't know enough about a product or service and won't be able to compete successfully against another rep in their territory who does know something about it.
The Future of Selling
Sales reps are important to your B2B eCommerce business, but their roles will be changing due to new technology and techniques. It’s important to help them embrace the future of their profession by helping them understand what these changes mean for their future.
So how can you help your sales reps handle these changes?
The solution - make sure your salespeople understand that being customer experts is what really matters. This means knowing everything about each account—the client's needs, wants, expectations, competitors' offerings, etc.—so that when it comes time to make a sale, all you have to do is ask for an order number (or email address).
When you focus on education rather than selling, your sales reps will actually appreciate it. They won’t feel like they’re losing control over any aspect of their job, because now they have a way to contribute to closing deals while still retaining influence over the process.
It’s time to move past static sales reporting, the monthly-versus-quarterly cycle, and endless dashboards of mediocre data. In today’s high-velocity market, innovative data-driven tools are evolving.
Platforms are building out configurable models that allow users to design easy-to-use, interactive sales trends and comparative dashboards, choose different metrics and analysis methods and connect to multiple platforms.
This is not just a way for companies to get a more detailed view of what’s happening in real time—it also gives reps an opportunity to be more proactive about customer relationships. For example, showing the rep a list of accounts with a drop in sales over the previous three months, accounts that are below average, or accounts that have no sales at all can definitely take them to the next level.
Helping your sales team utilize data-driven tools as an integral part of a B2B eCommerce solution is key to retaining them. With data-driven tools, sales reps can easily analyze sales trends, perform comparative analysis, visualize anomalies to take preventive steps and adjust their tactics accordingly.
By uncovering deviations in sales trends in their customers’ buying behavior, sales reps help to pinpoint areas that need immediate involvement. With data at their fingertips, sales reps are alerted to their customers' negative trends before they start to impact a company’s bottom line and paycheck.
It’s important for sales reps to know their customers and have a good understanding of how technology can support them—and, most importantly, when it’s time for technology to take over.
Make sure your sales team knows that you expect them to get out of selling as quickly as possible; focus on educating them on what they can do with technology today and what tomorrow looks like. This will help ensure they don’t resist change but instead embrace it.
You also want to be clear that salespeople are no longer responsible for owning or controlling any part of the customer journey. So if your sales reps fear losing jobs because of B2B eCommerce-enabled competition, then make sure they understand their role is changing but not going away.
Try to create a culture of acceptance among your team members: showing them why change is important, involving them in decision-making and letting them know their contributions matter.
As you transform your B2B business, lead your sales reps down a path towards accepting B2B eCommerce rather than resisting it.
Also read: 5 Best Practices for B2B eCommerce Adoption