B2B E Commerce as a Form of Insurance

I blog for Ecommerce Insites three times per week: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. I have done so religiously since September of 2010, a little over two years. Until yesterday. DOH! I could make lots of excuses, but the reality is that a number of other projects swallowed up my day and I simply forgot that I hadn’t posted a blog here until late last night. Needless to say, I was a bit mortified. Once I got over my mortification, I decided to put a plan in place to ensure that I never miss a blog post again. I needed a sort of insurance plan of sorts for my blog.

As I was heading to bed and thinking about my tardy blog post, it occurred to me that ecommerce is a form of insurance for the business-to-business (B2B) organization. Wikipedia defines insurance as “a form of risk management primarily used to hedge against the risk of contingent, uncertain loss.”

Without an effective ecommerce strategy in place, your B2B sales team is as good as sales people on the team. In other words, your success relies on your sales people:

  1. Proactively seeking out new customers. All the time.
  2. Actively engaging current customers to ensure long-term purchasing stays with your organization.
  3. Working to increase every customer’s average cart total during every purchase.
  4. Being available and ready to assist with the buying process whenever the customer needs help.

Most sales people worth their weight meet all of the above criteria. The reality is that most of them have lives outside of their jobs and even the best of the best can’t be “on” all the time. While most of the successful B2B sales people work well more than 40 hours a week trying to close deals, eventually these sales super stars need to sleep, relax, and tend to their personal lives. Where does this leave your business if you don’t have an ecommerce strategy in place? The answer is staggering as you start to mull it over.

The choice to not take advantage of an ecommerce initiative because it is “unnecessary” also hinges on some pretty risky assumptions, including:

  1. Your customers are not on the Internet.
  2. Your customers only do business while your company is open and ready to serve them.
  3. Your customers are exceedingly happy with the service that they receive from your sales team.
  4. Your customers won’t use ecommerce because they aren’t comfortable with technology.

What does my missing yesterday’s blog post have to do with your B2B ecommerce initiative (or a lack of one)? A lot. Without a comprehensive ecommerce strategy in place, your sales team is operating in much the same that I was previously with this blog—always operating with the best of intentions, getting it done—sometimes by the skin of my teeth, but with no fail-safe strategy in place. In essence, relying on the individual to make it happen day in and day out, without fail, regardless of outside circumstances. Unfortunately, the laid plans get thrown off course and the most dedicated salesperson will periodically be unavailable.

Ecommerce can be your sales insurance plan—always online when your customers need you, actively seeking out new customers through search engine optimization techniques, and providing exceptional customer service by providing the information that your customers need, when they need it. A well-designed and implemented ecommerce site can be the difference between growing your sales and just simply squeaking by.

To learn more about how to leverage the power of B2B ecommerce for your organization, download the white paper, B2B Ecommerce Success – Seven Questions to Consider When Beginning an Ecommerce Initiative.