Sales has always been the lifeblood of any business and the most difficult to get done right. With eCommerce sweeping across all major industries today, B2B sales strategies have to adapt to the new realities. Sales teams will have to reinvent their roles in business development by focusing heavily on the online self-service dimension in addition to traditional offline sales strategies.
The biggest change that’s happening is in how customers search for the best product and the best seller. One popular study suggests that the typical B2B buyer is already 57% through the purchase process before reaching out to sales. B2B buyers are getting increasingly more accustomed to searching and comparing products and vendors online before contacting their top picks for more information.
Another challenge for B2B organizations faced with tight competition online is how to retain existing clients and nurture brand loyalty. In B2B, building long-term relationships with customers is the name of the game and this is where both sales and marketing teams have to align to build strong retention strategies.
The following B2B sales strategies will help your company successfully target a modern B2B buyer at different touchpoints and build a consistent online experience online buyers expect.
Teaching First, Then Selling
Creating the right content for the buyer’s research phase is the most effective sales tactics in the age of eCommerce. In one B2B survey, when asked why buyers selected the winning vendor over others, 75% of buyers said the winning vendor’s content had a significant impact on their buying decisions.
Obviously, content development usually falls onto marketing’s plate but here’s where alignment between sales and marketing is crucial. The sales team is usually more aware of the most burning problems of their clients and the real questions they want answered. Usually having a greater reach and higher visibility on social networks, salespeople can utilize their social channels to distribute their own content and conduct webinars prepared together with the marketing team.
As a result, the new B2B sales strategy for online customer engagement is actually not selling but teaching and helping companies to do well with or without your own solutions and services. Make your sales representatives not only your brand’s spokespeople but, most importantly, industry thought leaders and reputable business trainers on social networks.
Your Brand’s Omniсhannel Presence
Marketing is the new sales when it comes to influencing online buyers and promoting your eCommerce webstore. While preparing the right content should be strategy #1, businesses should also take a look into getting that content in front of the right audience at different touchpoints. Another B2B content preferences study indicates that 47% of buyers viewed three to five pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep.
In practice, this means that your customer’s educational journey starts somewhere with a google search where they land on some article on your website and then consume a few of your premium contents like whitepapers, blog posts, landing pages, etc. Your potential customers may also check out your social media channels and attend some webinars to see if there’s a good fit with your business.
B2B deals may take some time to complete after your initial contact, so you need to fill that time by reminding your buyers why they should choose you. This includes valuable content that offers actionable, practical guidelines on how they can improve their business whether that’s through email newsletter, social media updates, webinars, whitepapers, video tutorials, etc. This also includes showcasing your own company’s growth and your client’s success stories.
Key Account Management
Customer retention rate is the ultimate health check for any B2B company. Research data shows that increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95% and these numbers are much larger for key strategic accounts. The 20% of your customers who account for 80% of sales should be the focus of your sales activities to maximize the potential of your sales force.
As one of the key B2B sales strategies, key account management helps continuously improve and expand relationships with your key accounts by looking for more potential engagements, offering loyalty programs, running mutual marketing campaigns, etc. This strategy is the most appropriate when there is a high degree of trust between the two parties, so establishing transparency and proactive support are a must.
As a part of this strategy, you can also utilize strategic selling where you look for any opportunities to take up even low-margin projects with your key account to show a sign of good faith.
Key account management may be difficult to implement because it involves so many aspects of customer relationship management. Having an advanced CRM system can alleviate many issues and dramatically improve visibility into your company’s key accounts for the management board.
Personalized Customer Experience
In order to stand out in the age of digital commerce, your best bet is offering personalized customer experience, both online and offline. When you offer purpose-built content that speaks about your customer’s unique problems, you are winning their attention and getting a chance to explain your vision for their success. This genuine customer-focused attitude is what B2B customers are looking for in their long-term partners.
In much the same way, personalized customer experience refers to offering flexible pricing policies, unique loyalty programs, individual customizations, and willingness to go the extra mile for your customer’s success. This is where strategies and practices borrowed from omnichannel retailing can be particularly handy.
When it comes to B2B eCommerce technology, delivering this personalized buying experience online translates into better engagement with your platform and less work for your support team.
Self-Service B2B eCommerce
It is time to enable your B2B customers to make purchases online via a self-service B2B portal that corresponds with the needs of modern-day buyers. All of us regularly shop online and, naturally, we’d like to have a similar experience when making purchases for our companies. According to Statista, the global B2B eCommerce market, valued at US$10.6 trillion in 2018, is over 5 times that of the B2C market. This is no man’s land where any company can break the fresh ground and outpace the competition.
However, the successful adoption of B2B eCommerce must go further than passively representing your products and services online. Your sales team will need to learn how to sell online buying experience as a part of your company’s value proposition. A self-service B2B eCommerce portal provides numerous advantages to buyers, such as shopping at their own time and pace, automating reordering, submitting RFQs/RFPs online, managing buying roles within their organizations, and many more. Offering these advantages and educating your customers on how to best use the B2B eCommerce features will be a major selling point in the age of eCommerce.
A Personal Touch to Your B2B Sales Strategies
As a bottom line, modern B2B sales strategies are all about mastering a personalized approach to your potential buyers, both offline and online. Make the customer-focused approach your new mentality to win their attention. Don’t pitch your services until you’ve helped them make sense of that marketing and technology noise they are struggling with. Educate them on how they can get things done effectively without your solutions and services! And if they finally decide to select your product, make it a remarkable and personalized experience that’s built to last.