The boom of eCommerce over the last decade has caused buying behaviors to shift. While those changes have been dramatic, many offline expectations still remain important to customers. Now more than ever, the integration of digital and traditional sales will be key.
Let’s take a step back. In the early 2000s, B2B buying likely involved a customer and a salesperson conducting a transaction over the phone, by mail, or maybe even email. Fast forward to 2020 and B2B buying can largely be done entirely online. The buyer can search for product information, compare products and place an order all from their browser. But, just because it’s the “new way” doesn’t mean it’s the only way. Many B2B buyers still desire several facets of the traditional buying experience that have been somewhat lost in the transition to eCommerce. In fact, new findings from our 2020 B2B report, Turning Salespeople Into Strategic Advisors, found that the best buyer experience is a combination of where we were 20 years ago and where we are now.
The imperfect transition is largely due to companies failing to introduce the proper resources to implement new technology. It’s great to have a wealth of digital tools, but they aren’t a great investment if you don’t have the proper training or knowledge to use them effectively.
Having digital platforms for B2B buyers to review information is important and a fast way for a customer to get a glimpse into a supplier’s offerings. However, if they’re unsure of what they’re looking for, or want strategic guidance, an online portal misses some of the valuable human features of the traditional buying experience. In complex buying scenarios, it is not enough to simply display product information. Companies must be able to explain the features of each product and how they benefit the individual buyer and their company, something that is much easier accomplished when there is a salesperson, product expert, or customer success manager to assist buyers.
In fact, our study found that the majority of B2B buyers prefer to make purchases of $150,000 or more offline. Additionally, 69% of B2B buyers surveyed believe it would be impossible to make a purchase without a salesperson. It is those human connections that instill buyer confidence, build brand loyalty, and subsequently customer retention. While having a team of salespeople may seem “old school,” it is those very people that buyers need most when making complex purchase decisions.
If you’re looking for a team of experts to help you integrate your online and offline resources, we’re here to help! Check out our offerings here.