The digital landscape has opened up the potential to create thousands of touchpoints between businesses and their customers. Now customers have access to “all” avenues of engagement with their seller and are looking for ways to make purchases in a way that meets their needs. As a result, B2B companies are facing immense pressure to develop a better understanding of how their customers want to be engaged, and there is a critical need to bridge the gap between what a customer wants and how they can deliver. Omnichannel commerce – the ability to sell to customers fluidly and flawlessly between any and all channels – is the strategy companies must take to meet the demands and expectations of today’s digitally-fluid customers.
Consistency beyond the transaction
In order to attract and attain customers, B2B sellers must create a consistent experience where buyers can receive the same messaging, content, pricing, and customer support whether they’re engaging online, over the phone, or in person. This consistency is extremely difficult to create, as critical departments that impact the sale are often siloed. These silos make cross-functional alignment almost nonexistent; however, it’s absolutely essential to achieve an omnichannel commerce strategy for the future of the business. One remedy for this is to introduce a “single source of truth” teams can reference for pricing. If working off of a single data source, companies can enrich their data from all touchpoints or inputs and leverage AI to deliver prescriptive outcomes that further tailor the buying journey.
It’s important to remember that all B2B buyers are human. The digital buying experience for all consumer purchases is seamless, quick, and easy to follow. Since this level of service is what B2B buyers have come to expect, sellers must replicate a similar buying experience while accounting for much more nuance in pricing, personalization, and buyer history. For one food retailer, their customers were tired of using the phone exclusively to place orders and reach customer support. The retailer then provided an online order option so customers could now choose which channel they prefer to conduct business within. It didn’t stop there – the most important step the retailer took was to ensure there was no channel friction felt by the customer. Pricing was consistent whether the customer called in their order or ordered online, which built trust with the customer, and ultimately increased customer loyalty.
In lockstep: B2B sellers and marketers
Marketing teams, like sales teams, are absolutely essential for setting the standard of consistency across a company’s omnichannel platform. Marketers that understand the customer and customize outreach and engagement based on their known preferences can successfully help the organization achieve this consistency.
Offering the right content to the right person at the right time, and doing it at scale, has never been more critical to the selling process than it is right now. B2B marketers can leverage buyer intent data and engagement-level insights to refine digital media targeting. Once the target audience is engaged, marketers can dive deeper into the data to better understand visitors and personalize their experience – not just by name, but by a relevant set of criteria, like industry, persona, intent, journey stage, and more. One shipping company received feedback that its customers increasingly expected sales teams to know more about the shipping industry. This company knew it needed to better utilize its customer data to make prescriptive, dynamic offers more consistently. Once it implemented a data-driven solution to better manage customer information, it was able to make better, more customized offers to customers.
Mapping out an omnichannel commerce strategy
Implementing technology that helps streamline and automate the sales process is a major challenge for enterprise organizations. The first step businesses can take to utilize AI in the sales and marketing process is to make sure they have the right kind of data that will help inform their organization about the customer. Many folks would be surprised at how few businesses are tracking who comes to their website. Understanding the basic demographics of customers and website visitors is key to further personalizing the engagement with customers and prospects based on their browsing behaviors and patterns.
In 2021 and beyond, B2B organizations’ top priority needs to be attaining deeper levels of customer engagement and delivering exceptional commerce experiences across all channels. Sales and marketing teams both play a key role in facilitating this personalized buying experience. Both teams need to be aligned to make sure that customers receive consistent support, advice, and offers. Because potential buyers have access to so much information online across a variety of different channels, taking customer experience to the next level via a high touch, tailored approach will bolster a trusting relationship and keep customers coming back for repeat purchases.