By Tony Abena, CEOSalesforce + Demandware

Yesterday, Salesforce announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Demandware for $2.8 billion. Yet another deal in a consolidating enterprise software space as competitors race to assemble their own versions of “marketing clouds”—platforms that enable them to deliver seamless, end-to-end customer experience lifecycles via innovative data and workflow features.

This environment reminds me of the Reformation: back in the 16th century, the Catholic and Protestant Churches struggled to reconcile different theological philosophies and traditions. The result was a splintering of the Catholic Church, but its initial aim was reforming beliefs and practices. To me, Salesforce’s acquisition of Demandware represents the early signs of a “reformation” of how companies sell.

Historically, online sales and rep-led selling were usually siloed efforts, organized in separate departments and teams that often chased after dis-intermediated business goals. But buyers—not sellers—now define what the sales experience looks like, and choose when to engage sales and when to self-serve. And when buyers say, via their words or actions, that they’ll take their business elsewhere if you don’t deliver the experience they want to have, it’s time to “reform.”

The Need to Connect Physical and Digital Sales Channels

I think an even more interesting development is how this Salesforce/Demandware deal shines a light on the critical need to connect a company’s people-based (physical) sales channel with its online (digital), e-commerce-based sales channel to optimize effectiveness and efficiencies across both. Over the past few years, “channel shift”—shifting lower-value, people-driven activities (such as simple buys or re-orders) to online self-service—has become a popular and sometimes controversial topic in B2B.

Certainly, a shift of some sort makes sense, but at Insite we believe a more evolved, “reformed” method allows both sales channels to perform better. We want to help our customers deliver a delightful, unified buying experience that compels buyer loyalty—regardless of sales channel. Like the 1500’s Reformation, we seek to move away from a siloed approach where these channels operate separately, to one that aligns and empowers direct sales and e-commerce teams via customer behavior data and software. These teams need to work together to meet growing buyer expectations, and increase sales productivity in each and every account while delivering a world-class, consistent B2B buying experience.

Reforming B2B Buying and Selling

What we do at Insite is empower organizations to “reform” the way they sell to match how today’s B2B buyers work. B2B buyers order, they don’t shop. And—contrary to what you might have heard—they don’t want a “B2C-like” online buying experience. They want an intuitive experience that makes it easier for them to do their jobs, and do them well. Our robust e-commerce technology is architected to drive amazing, purposefully designed, online B2B buying experiences. At the same time, we arm sales reps with the information, sales order history/status and sales enablement tools they need to be the informed, strategic resources their buyers crave.

We bring online and offline selling together, to drive better business outcomes.

Reformation achieved.

Tony Abena CEO of Insite Software Tony Abena, CEO at Insite Software. Connect with Tony Abena on LinkedIn.