The demise of the B2B salesperson was predicted by Forrester in 2017 alongside the rise of effective eCommerce tools in the marketplace. Yet today, even as we continue to see a shift toward the need for digital portals and solutions, the persisting value of the salesperson stands in glaring contrast to the expected “death of the salesman.” In fact, 94% of buyers indicate that salespeople enhance the online purchasing experience, allowing them to feel more confident in their decisions.
Rather than eliminating the salesperson as an obsolete element in the process, their role should be seen through a new lens: as a strategic purchasing advisor. Adjustments like this can make a world of difference for your customers when purchasing online.
Here are a few additional ways you can begin to improve your customers’ digital experiences:
Remove typical online pain points.
There’s no question that buyers expect a digital transaction option as eCommerce has become commonplace for everyday buyers. However, even with this in mind, many companies have not taken the necessary steps to remove purchasing obstructions such as challenging checkout processes or complications with delivery and fulfilment. Consider the entire purchasing journey and make sure to eliminate barriers for customers in a range of scenarios and stages of the process. An inability to address these issues can lead to buyer uncertainty and longer lead times for purchases.
Focus on your online portal’s capability and functionality.
Online solutions cannot simply exist; they must empower and support buyers throughout the transaction experience. Buyers value a positive online experience so much that 81% say they would choose a supplier with excellent eCommerce and customer portal capabilities even if the supplier’s product was moderately higher priced. Consider the integration of mobile channels, and improve the ease with which a salesperson can be reached for advice to ensure your portal is functional through every stage of a purchase.
Ensure clarity around product information and purchasing options.
Beginning in the research stage, 59% of buyers report that when relying on an online portal, they cannot find the right product information and specifications they need to confidently make a purchasing decision. When a buyer is unable to locate the details they need to help them identify if your product is right for them, they will inevitably move on to your competitor. Just 35% of buyers feel confident making purchases over $500,000 online, and lack of clarity likely contributes to this hesitation. It is critical that clear and up-to-date product information is available to make fast and easy purchases possible.
You don’t need to become Amazon to beat them.
Amazon Business has undoubtedly created disruption in the B2B marketplace when it comes to online purchasing. However, suppliers need not be discouraged. In reality, the number of buyers who went to Amazon first when considering purchasing decisions decreased from 18% in 2018 to 11% in 2019. Buyers will still come to traditional suppliers first, but will only remain if those suppliers are able to offer similar capabilities and seamless processes. Eliminate difficulties, focus on optimizing your processes, and the pressure to compete against the online giants may just shrink.
Leverage salespeople for purchasing follow-through.
As previously stated, the value of the salesperson has not diminished. With such a large majority of buyers reporting that salespeople generally improve their experiences when purchasing online, investing in the power of relationship building is still a crucial consideration. The use of online channels does not render obsolete the need for human connection and reassurance. Rather, it enhances that experience by meeting the buyers needs along the way.
Don’t miss our full 2020 B2B buyer report, for more information surrounding the ways you can continue to improve your digital channels. Also, please reach out. We’re always here to help you implement new and creative solutions to optimize your buyers’ digital experiences.