Creating a Virtual Handshake for B2B E CommerceUp until recently, a majority of business-to-business (B2B) business deals were conducted in person and signed with a handshake. The advent of ecommerce as not only a viable way for B2B organizations to conduct business, but as the pivotal way for B2B organizations to ensure continued growth seems to have usurped the tradition of business by handshake. Or has it?

Truly, ecommerce changes how the B2B handshake is implemented, but it doesn’t have to eliminate it. Instead, I would wager that to be successful B2B organizations need to figureout how to translate the handshake of old into an online shopping experience that the customer recognizes as a replacement for the physical act of shaking hands. 

So, what does a virtual ecommerce handshake look like? I think it could be different from organization to organization, but the key is that it focuses the buying experience on the customer rather than the urge to close the transaction. Consider what makes a handshake effective:

It’s personal. The reason business gets conducted over a handshake is because you know the person you are dealing with and the whole experience is highly personalized. Ecommerce Take Away: Make the buying experience personalized to the customer doing the shopping. Serve up the products they order most for quick reorder, any applicable negotiated pricing, and the cross-sells and up-sells most likely to appeal to them.

It’s part of the close. In face-to-face business deals, both parties know that they are part of a business deal. As a result, the sales person is expected to ask for the sale. Ecommerce Take Away: Make sure that your site asks for the sale. Don’t make it hard for your customers to add items to their cart and make payment when they are ready.

You trust the other person. Handshakes evolved from the practice of two men–potentially threats to one another–offering their right hand as a demonstration of being unarmed and peaceful. With that in mind, handshakes convey trust. Ecommerce Take Away: Make an effort to create a sense of trust in the customer throughout the buying process. Clearly display any security seals associated with your shopping cart and make sure the customer can easily find any low price or return shipping guarantees that you offer.

Ecommerce doesn’t have to kill the powerful effect of the handshake on B2B business success. With a little thoughtful planning, the handshake can easily be translated into the ecommerce experience.

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