It’s no secret that B2B buyers have changed. Traditional B2B buyers were fiercely loyal to their business partners. They put their relationships first and rarely shopped the competition, even when mistakes were made. But as digital technologies advanced and younger buyers entered the workplace, the profile of the B2B buyer evolved. Today’s B2B buyer prefers self-service and discovery more than ever and is not afraid to shop the competition. According to a 2018 Forrester survey, more than 70% of B2B buyers find buying from a website more convenient than buying from a sales representative.
In order to give your customers a means to self-serve and enable your sales team to be more efficient, you have to think about the digital experiences you offer. The B2B buying cycle is complex and the path to purchase journey is far from linear. But with B2B eCommerce, you can gain more visibility of the buying journey, increase customer satisfaction and ultimately make it easier for your customers to do business with you.
The Impacts eCommerce Has on the Customer Journey
We’ve already stated that the B2B buyer has a strong desire to self-serve whenever possible. When you deploy eCommerce experiences, the buying journey changes. With eCommerce, customers, rather than your sales team or your organization, are able to steer the buying journey. They can choose when they need your team’s guidance rather than being interrupted throughout their journey.
It’s true that enabling self-service increases customer satisfaction and efficiency, but it doesn’t mean your sales team loses visibility to the customer. In fact, it actually enhances your ability to access information about your customers’ behaviors.
The Impacts eCommerce Has on the Selling Journey
When your customers self-serve it drives their efficiency which in turn drives your efficiency. When your customers are able to self-serve your sales people no longer have to track customer information or perform mundane tasks.
Sure the customer is driving their journey, but you are helping them choose a path. For example, if a researcher is looking for information on your site and they request a sample, your sales person now has a valid reason to connect with them. This gives your customers the ability to opt-in to sales guidance. Incorporating self-service tools does not eliminate the need for a sales team, instead it changes the flow. You can use self-service events as a means to drive your interaction with the customer differently.
The ability to request a quote, ask for samples or pass it off to purchasing can all be handled by a subject matter expert without reaching out to a sales person. But with eCommerce, the sales person is informed and can help when called upon. Everything flows through the system. At any time the sales person can interject and help guide the process if necessary.
Of course, digital commerce also helps you gather intelligence and market more effectively. Effective self-service tools will not only benefit your customer but will give you the ability to market to new accounts, build your credibility, expand your relationship across an account and upsell and cross-sell your products. It’s a win-win all around.