As businesses wade deeper into 2021, organizations are still struggling to shift to e-commerce and fully replace in-person transactions. While the cost and time it takes to implement new solutions may be daunting, customers now expect a personalized, exceptional buying experience, every single time. The pressure to deliver effective offers on digital channels is mounting, and e-commerce isn’t going anywhere. In fact, 62% of companies reported an increase in e-commerce sales of at least 25% last year, including 12% that increased sales by more than 75%. With growing customer expectations, B2Bs should consider these tips to adapt to the digital market:
Create a dependable buying experience to gain buyer trust
Fearing their customers will look elsewhere, many organizations have been hesitant to fully commit to a digital selling platform. At the beginning of COVID, PROS found only 1/3 of buyers stated that most of their vendors were well-prepared and had already enabled digital channels.
Switching to an omnichannel approach allows the sales team to be dynamic and engage with sellers on any channel they want. Eight in ten B2B decision-makers believe omnichannel sales is as or more effective than traditional methods. But as buyers jump from one communication channel to the next, consistency is an essential element of closing the sale. If buyers go to a website and see a different price for an item there compared to what a salesperson told them, those buyers will only ever consult with the salesperson because that’s who they trust more. Creating consistency helps buyers build trust in a brand because they know they can get the same, accurate information regardless of the channel. If a business is driving consistent pricing and promotions at every point of interaction with its buyers, they are building trust that allows those buyers to make a purchase they’re comfortable with.
Understand your data: Why data is the #1 most underutilized asset for B2B sellers
To thrive in today’s digital-first marketplace, B2B organizations need to rely heavily on data-driven insights to retain customers. The problem is that many B2Bs don’t have the basics down, like understanding how to capitalize on the transactional data and customer buying behavior in order to make personalized offers. Utilizing customer and platform data to engage with buyers in meaningful, strategic ways can help ensure that brands remain competitive.
B2B organizations that fully utilize their data have a distinct advantage over their competitors. Brands can learn a lot about a potential customer’s organization just based on what industry it’s in. And if a customer is a public company, there is even more information out there that can inform the seller’s interactions with the business. Whether data comes from internal or external sources, spending the time to collect, analyze and apply it in the sales process will help the sales team succeed.
Reframe the role of the B2B seller: How to personalize customer interactions and utilize AI
Buyers continue to want more control of the sales process. When interacting with a seller, they’re looking beyond the basic questions about products and expect sales teams to provide them with high-value information about products that a buyer couldn’t find on the seller’s website.
Some organizations pull together pricing offers that utilize customer data, but they do it all manually. For one salesperson, having to research a potential buyer and compile the information by hand takes a lot of time. By implementing AI solutions that automate this process and generate dynamic prices, enterprises can scale in parallel with their customers’ needs. Using AI is a simple, effective way to maximize customer insight.
While the term “AI” often sparks fears of job loss, salespeople have a major role to play as experts in their industries. While AI may be faster at research, it doesn’t have the expertise needed to share an opinion on what’s happening in the market or consider other external factors that would impact a sale. On top of that, salespeople need to know everything they can about their customer in order to personalize each interaction. Buyers are looking for salespeople to advise them based on their past experiences — referencing similar use cases and providing strategic counsel on how to solve each customer’s unique challenges. When salespeople can tap into data and share their own expertise, they become true strategic advisers to customers and prospects.
Taking the first step
In July 2020, PROS found 70% of buyers reported that current conditions were compelling them to shift their vendor preferences due to challenges in working with existing vendors. While many dove headfirst into digital transformation, the rest must adapt now or risk losing their customers permanently. Creating consistently, exceptional experiences for buyers is the best way to keep your customers loyal and customer data is the secret key to unlocking personalization. Businesses that leverage their data to guide the sales process will win.