Changes related to the rapid acceleration of the development of e-Commerce have resulted in many studies and analyzes of purchasing processes in the B2C dimension. The conclusions drawn from them (at least to a large extent) can also be applied to B2B (E-Commerce B2B) processes. Many sources indicate the presence of individual trends also among business recipients. One of the most noticeable changes is the increase in expectations regarding the course of purchasing processes. This applies to both the possibilities and experience in using purchasing platforms, as well as support for sales teams and solutions that automate individual stages of the purchase.
The conclusion seems obvious: as part of activities aimed at increasing the company’s turnover, it is worth considering implementing tools that reflect the best practices of e-retail trade on a business scale. A comprehensive approach is crucial, covering both the processes of acquiring and servicing B2B customers, as well as the pace of order fulfillment (including delivery times and methods). At the same time, it is worth remembering that the basis for process improvement is knowledge about the needs and preferences of customers. It is also necessary to notice the changes that have taken place in the context of the role of the seller, the course of the decision-making process and the expectations of the business recipient.
How to optimize communication between the company and buyers of its products or services?
What should the sales and advisory process look like now so that it brings a sense of satisfaction to customers?
What IT tools will support establishing and deepening relations between companies?
First – availability of the information
Moving many activities to remote mode and limiting personal contacts resulted in a deeper immersion in online content. Buyers declare that before contacting the seller, they spend between 5 and 30 minutes searching and reading the content of a single information format. The majority (44%) of those surveyed said that they affected 3 to 5 content, a smaller group (30%) focused on 1-3 materials, and even fewer (16% and 10%) spent time on 5-7 or more than 7 formats. If further steps depend on the content of the 3 materials that the buyer will find in the first place, their substantive preparation and proper positioning becomes particularly important. Especially that the most frequently chosen content formats are (57%) webinars and e-books, followed by reports (55%), research results (52%), blog posts and case studies (46% each). It can therefore be seen that materials offering knowledge or facilitating the formation of an opinion are particularly sought after. This is confirmed by declarations regarding the credibility of materials as the main factor in assessing their usefulness. The presence of statements from industry specialists (also referred to as influencers in this context) is of additional importance, shorter formats or interactive content, adapted to playback on mobile devices or recommended by other people.
In other words, in the B2B approach, the importance of substantive, useful and credible “content” is strengthened.
Second – support and independence
According to McKinsey & Company, depending on the stage of the purchase, between 70 and 81% of B2B decision makers choose a form of remote interaction with a sales representative or advisor, or carry out the process self-service. A particularly popular method of obtaining advice is a face-to-face written interview online, the so-called face-to-face interview. LiveChat. With a properly designed process, it can turn into placing an order and be a channel for sending an invoice or a link to make a payment. The conversation can be conducted “between” other duties and matters. It allows for efficiency while maintaining a high level of comfort.
Interestingly, 48-49% of B2B buyers declare remote forms of contact as preferred at the stages of searching and evaluating new suppliers, and 44% and 46% in order to place the first and repeat orders. While self-service at the first two stages is the preferred option for only 22% of buyers, self-ordering is chosen by 36%. 35% of B2B buyers are willing to make a repeat self-service purchase. These values clearly justify the implementation of appropriate tools. Especially that the declarations apply not only to small transactions, but also to larger orders. 70% of the surveyed B2B decision-makers are willing to make remote or self-service purchases in excess of PLN 50,000. dollars, and 27% – 500 thousand. dollars.
Third – cooperation
The real value of the implemented solutions and acquired data is revealed when they allow for a comprehensive transformation of the organization. By referring the concept of “omnichannel” not only to the transactional level, but also to the organizational level, it becomes possible to develop more effective forms of cooperation. In turn, greater fluidity of processes between departments and providing them with access to information about buyers significantly improves the quality of service. One of the latest Salesforce studies shows that 79% of marketers declare that they maintain close relationships with sales departments. They focus on creating common goals or providing each other with information about them, as well as knowledge about customers. This is a very good practice, especially since the recipients of products and services expect consistent experiences in contacts with various departments of the company. Unfortunately, they often encounter a different situation: as many as 56% of respondents have the impression that the flow of information between company departments does not exist. This means that there is still room for improvement and the search for more effective processes. Of course, technology will not face all challenges on its own, activities in other areas are also necessary. But the timing is right. After all, organizations are at the stage of change, better and better adapting to remote or so-called hybrid model of cooperation. There is a clear desire to create a digital environment that would allow for the best possible cooperation. At the same time, it is worth remembering that the tools allow for independence in searching for information and some flexibility in terms of forms of communication. Salesforce analyzes indicate that platforms implementing the idea of self-service are quite quickly adopted and gaining popularity among users.
Feel free to contact me and discuss specific situations and needs. I will be happy to support your organizations in finding optimal solutions.
Marcin Pieńkowski – Head of Salesforce