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Getting the Ball Rolling With Customer Adoption in B2B eCommerce

May 10, 2022 | Oro Team

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You’ve got your new B2B eCommerce website in the works. The rollout may be in sight, but that doesn’t mean your job is done. It doesn’t matter how awesome your graphics are and how much information you provide through your website. If your customers won’t use it, the website isn’t providing the most benefits possible. 

If this is your first foray into eCommerce, getting your customers accustomed to making orders online and checking order status through their customer portal requires a period of adjustment. This adjustment process is known as customer adoption. It requires careful planning and strategizing to pull it off successfully.

Here is how to get the ball rolling with customer adoption. 

Why Adoption Is Important

Facts & Figures estimates the global B2B eCommerce market will be $18.57 trillion by 2026. Corporate buyers say they plan to purchase more than ever online.

A joint research project by Insights World Research and OroCommerce investigated the expectations of modern B2B buyers and found that they anticipate making over half of their purchases online in the coming year. (Download the entire report on Modern B2B Buyer Expectations)

b2b purchasing is increasing in 2022

Many of these buyers are your existing customers. They may be thrilled to know a website is available but leery of possible changes in their relationship with your company. Through customer adoption, you’ll quell those fears and lead them to love their new digital relationship in addition to the traditional relationship they currently enjoy. 

Meeting customer expectations

Your existing customers have probably been groomed by Amazon and other big consumer websites to expect a certain customer experience when buying online. While B2B buying is different than B2C buying, many of the expectations are the same. 

You can use that to your advantage when promoting customer adoption in B2B. Placing orders online and online self-service benefits buyers and businesses. 

Improving customer experience

Your customers will gain the ability to order at their convenience, no matter the time of day, where they are located, or what device they are using. In addition, they’ll be able to check on order status or get product information 24/7 as well.

Increasing productivity

The more self-service activity your website generates, the more it frees your people to spend their time on high-value activities. For example, instead of fielding inquiries on order status, your customer service staff can focus on problem-solving. Sales reps can focus on building relationships instead of taking orders. 

But these benefits are only possible when you get your existing customers to rely on the website as their first resource for information. 

Adoption Versus Acquisition

Many sales and marketing books, articles, and blogs have been written about driving traffic to a website and then getting that traffic to convert.

That’s the customer acquisition process. Customer acquisition introduces clients to your company and encourages them to make that all-important first purchase.

Customer adoption is all about getting existing customers to break out of their normal way of doing business with your company and embracing a new way of interacting. Customer adoption is important to maximize the value of your existing customer base.  Because the customer acquisition cost is already paid, sales through adoption generate a higher profit per sale.  

Customer adoption and customer acquisition are completely different. Get customer adoption wrong and you’ll lose hard-won goodwill and say goodbye to maximizing customer lifetime value.

Preparing In-House for Change

Early in the change management process, you created a case for the technology change you are about to launch.

Before you reach out to customers, revisit your case for change. It’s important to keep the benefits of the change top of mind. This includes benefits for customers as well as customer-facing employees such as sales reps and customer service reps. 

Adoption Teams

Look at your change management teams and identify the key players to be part of the adoption teams. Include the adoption team in setting adoption goals. The adoption team should play a part in developing the strategy as well. Your adoption team will provide three crucial roles:

  • Serving as ambassadors for change
  • Acting as a reassuring voice to customers
  • Reminding those inside and outside the company of the benefits of change.

Training

Before you start onboarding customers, make sure your employees are fully trained. They should know how to navigate the website, where information is located on the website, and key website functionality, as well as how to use the back-end and any integrated systems. Your sales reps and customer service staff need to be comfortable with the new technology if they are going to help customers be comfortable with the new technology.

Onboarding Sales Reps

The employees that have the most to gain from increasing digital sales are often the ones that fear it the most. 

Address their fears

Most resistance to change comes from fear of the unknown. Sales reps may view online ordering as a competitor and not a tool for increasing their own sales. Be upfront with any changes to compensation plans and focus on the benefits of online ordering.  Address objections as they are raised instead of allowing them to grow.

Nurture influencers

Make sure your sales reps are ready to be advocates for customers and help them through the onboarding process. It’s natural for all changes in how sales are handled to be met with some level of resistance. From adopting a new CRM to launching digital sales, there will always be champions of change and resisters. The key is to quickly identify the change champions, nurture them, and support them to influence the rest of the team.

Enable sales contact information

Reassure your sales reps that their name won’t be forgotten by their customers. Most B2B eCommerce platforms like OroCommerce include functionality to personalize the order or account screen in the backend to display the name and phone number of that customer’s sales rep.  This keeps the sales rep in mind, even when customers are online. 

Incentivizing sales teams

Carrots work better than sticks. Incentivize your sales team to onboard customers and support customer adoption. Encourage sales teams to help their customers place their first online order and then reward them for their success.

You can offer anything from monetary bonuses, Amazon gift cards, or extra time off for the team member that gets the most customers to adopt. Sales rep rewards can be based on the rep that gets the most customers to create their online account or the rep with the highest number of first-time online orders.  Use internal contests to reward the team member with the most signups or reward the rep with the most online sales. Consider giving sales reps credit for online and offline sales.

Generate Customer Excitement

Some customers are naturally early adopters. They may discover the online ordering capabilities of your new website before you even mention it to them. That’s great and a sure sign that your customers want the convenience of online ordering. 

However, most customers will feel comfortable with the old ways of doing things and need a little nudging to make the move to digital ordering. This is where you focus your customer adoption efforts. 

Identify the existing customers that have already created an online account or placed their first online order. Send them a thank you and exclude them from your onboarding efforts. 

Send personalized messages

Your marketing team should craft personalized messages to be sent from each sales rep. Let your customers know you are making this change to make their jobs easier and to provide the tools to improve their own productivity. 

Focus on benefits

With each communication, let customers know the benefits of having an online account. List the functionality that has moved online and then show an example of how it makes their job easier. For example, if you support an online RFQ process, explain how the new digital process speeds your response time so they get their quote faster. 

Continue to follow-up

Sales reps should continue to hit the phones and follow up with existing customers. Your B2B eCommerce software should enable sales reps to help customers set up their new accounts, place orders in the backend, and even guide customers through placing their first order online.

Consider Pre-established Accounts

If you have existing digital customer records, you may be able to establish accounts for your customers and provide temporary passwords and login credentials. 

Onboarding is much easier from the customer’s perspective if all they need to do is log in and change a password. 

You can preload price lists, shipping information, and credit limits. If you are considering this approach to onboarding, it’s important to include the necessary data integration in your minimum viable product. 

Measuring Success

Once the adoption process is underway, it’s important to monitor the results. 

Monitor onboarding

A low adoption rate indicates that either you’ve done a poor job of communicating the benefits or you’ve designed a website with a poor user experience and a difficult onboarding process.

If existing customers aren’t responding to incentive offers to establish a new online account, you may have made the process too difficult. 

Reach out to customers, find out why they haven’t established an account, and listen carefully to their answers. You may find the process isn’t intuitive or requires what the customer perceives as too much time.  If so, it’s time to re-evaluate your workflows and simplify. 

Monitor first order

It’s important to monitor more than just account establishment. Monitor how long it takes for a customer to begin ordering online. If you have a customer that orders every 2 months and they take more than 2 cycles to begin online ordering, a phone call is in order. 

As with adoption, it’s important to find out if customers are having problems with site navigation, incorrect pricing, or difficult checkout workflows.

Tools for Successful Customer Adoption in B2B eCommerce

As with any job, it helps to have the right tools in your toolbox. 

For customers new to B2B eCommerce, consider creating how-to videos to show them step-by-step how to set up their new account. If account creation requires them to gather data, make sure your video tells them what data they will need in advance. 

Empower your sales force with a CRM that gives them a 360-degree view of all customer interactions. Use the CRM to track emails, phone calls, and other communications regarding the onboarding process and automate follow-up processes.

Adoption is as Important as Acquisition

Remember, once you launch a new website, getting existing customers to move online is as important as attracting new customers. 

Make the adoption process part of your overall project plan, apply technology change management strategies, then monitor and adjust as necessary. 

Need help with getting the ball rolling with customer adoption for B2B eCommerce? Download Oro’s Guide to Customer Adoption for more tips and a look at how major brands have successfully moved their customers online. 

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