The events of the past year have forced a rethink of how organisations engage in the B2B sales process.
The so-called ‘Amazon Effect’ on B2C sales has also hastened the demand for faster, easier purchases, with sellers required to offer quick and simple-to-use options for procuring products and services.
Economic pressures and a radically changed operating environment are pushing B2B companies to innovate in how they promote, sell and support products and solutions. One study found that B2B buyers are motivated by many of the same factors as B2C buyers: speed, convenience, a frictionless buying experience, and transparency in pricing and product features.
Learning from B2C
Thanks to advances in e-commerce, B2C customers today enjoy a seamless buying journey with quick fulfilment and consistently excellent customer experiences.
In contrast, B2B procurement can be a slow and laborious process. Gartner estimates that as many as six to ten people form part of a B2B buying process. Each person typically operates independently, with joint decisions over the procurement only occurring toward the end of the buying journey.
This can result in slow and resource-intensive buying cycles that leave organisations without the agility to quickly respond to opportunities or challenges in their operating environment.
For sellers, the process can undermine efforts at winning and retaining customers. A 2019 report into digital buying found that nearly 80% of businesses no longer rely on traditional annual buying cycles for purchasing enterprise software.
Instead, decision-makers purchase solutions whenever one is needed to keep the business moving, or when there are great potential returns on the investment due to low-lying sales opportunities.
The focus is on achieving business outcomes, not simply deploying new solutions or purchasing the latest tech. Sellers should provide a smooth and frictionless buying process while ensuring on-going support that helps customers derive maximum value from their investments.
How? Here are three measures businesses can use to improve the B2B sales process and delivering business outcomes:
Capturing and retaining customer affinity
The Experience Economy has raised customer expectations over the type of experience they enjoy when interacting with a business or brand. Investment into enhancing customer experiences are at an all-time high: one study found that 62% of companies are investing in meeting changing customer needs.
These investments are bottom-line driven: McKinsey estimates that improvements in CX can lead to a 10-15% reduction in customer churn while lowering costs by 50%.
Organisations need to deploy experience management solutions that gather and process data to deliver insights into customer expectations and shortcomings in the existing customer experience. Using a data-driven approach, organisations can then implement appropriate measures to meet customer expectations and needs at every step of the customer journey.
Removing friction in the customer journey
The consumer-friendly convenience of a service such as Amazon has raised expectations of what people want from their interactions with a business or brand. Removing friction from the customer journey is one of the most effective ways of improving the overall customer experience.
To achieve a frictionless experience, organisations need to integrate physical and digital channels to gain contextual insights into customer behaviour and preferences. Investment into a powerful CRM platform enables sales teams, customers and partners to improve how they nurture leads. Critically, organisations need to invest in an omnichannel experience that connects sales, service and support to ensure customers are supported at every turn.
Lifetime value engineering
The focus has shifted away from ’sell-and-forget’ to ‘adopt-and-use’, with demands from buyers for long-term support and ongoing value engineering. It’s not enough to make a great first impression and converting that to a sale.
The most successful organisations become trusted partners to their customers across the entire customer journey. Organisations can achieve this by integrating customer-facing, front-office operations with back-office applications. The objective is to integrate everything from the shop floor to the top floor.
In addition, organisations should build toward a perfectly orchestrated order management and fulfilment experience for customers to ensure every sale is seamlessly deployed and integrated. Finally, by encouraging internal departments to collaborate, organisations can break down internal silos hampering the customer journey to deliver a seamless, memorable and valued experience to customers.