This blog is part of our Digital Transformation for Manufacturers series. To see all content in this series, click here.
B2B sample ordering is an important source of lead generation and conversion for manufacturers. This type of digital solution allows a B2B buyer to request and receive manufacturing samples, test the product, and ensure it meets their needs before placing a larger order. But few manufacturers are taking advantage of sample ordering to bring in new leads and build buyer confidence.
Sample ordering is about the customer acquisition, not the transaction. It’s an opportunity to build a connection with your customers and drive business value, benefiting both sides of the supplier-buyer relationship.
Why should B2B businesses do sample ordering?
Sample orders are a meaningful way to create a 360-degree view of your customer and provide a seamless customer experience. And salespeople win too: By identifying leads as they order samples, salespeople reach out with relevant information about the product, its use for the buyers’ specific business, and any other support needed to place a full order. In this way, offering sample ordering benefits your business and your buyers.
Benefits for your business
- Kickstart digital transformation: Sample ordering is an ideal first step on a digital transformation journey. With the right technology and systems, your business will benefit from automated processes, fewer errors, and improved sales and service productivity. Launching sample orders creates organizational convergence and meets the objectives of marketing, sales, and IT.
- Learn about your buyer: In the process of placing a sample order, a customer provides information about their business needs and priorities. Their actions on your site create an interactive feedback loop that allows you to learn about their behavior and deliver relevant information at exactly the right time. Customer information also gives the sales team what they need to conduct a targeted follow-up with the goal of converting this valuable lead to a repeat customer.
- Move the buyer through your sales funnel: The sample order can trigger a welcome journey that connects the buyer to a sales representative or presents a customer satisfaction survey. This opportunity to “try before you buy” moves a prospect through the sales funnel and increases customer acquisition. It is a straight line to revenue and productivity.
Benefits for your buyers
- Reduce risk and increase confidence: In B2B manufacturing, it can be risky to place an order without first using the product. Purchasing the wrong product is costly, and dealing with returns is a hassle at best. A sample order gives a buyer confidence that a product works for their needs.
- Make sure the product is the right fit: When a customer uses the sample product, they are able to see how it functions and performs. They can evaluate whether the product fits with their process and applications, meets quality standards, and fulfills their business needs. By ensuring that the product is the right fit before placing an order, the buyer is more likely to feel confident about
- Establish a supplier relationship: The sample order process creates trust between supplier and buyer. The customer gets to experience the whole buyer’s journey from end to end and interact with the supplier along the way. By proving that ordering can be seamless and simple from start to finish, you reassure the buyer that larger purchases can be completed just as smoothly.
How to do B2B sample ordering
You may be wondering if your business should use sample ordering. In the realm of commerce for manufacturers, sample ordering is a key 2022 B2B ecommerce trend. It is an excellent way to create a more user-friendly shopping and purchasing experience, in turn driving lead generation and conversion.
Now is the time to start. Almost all buyers (96%) have made a purchase for their company online since March 2020, and 87% of buyers would pay more for a supplier with an excellent ecommerce portal, a 20% increase from pre-pandemic.
When launching a sample order offering, it’s important to be aware of some common challenges for manufacturers:
- A disjointed or manual process that makes it unappealing for sales reps to offer
- No clear ownership of the end-to-end experience or technology enablers
- No clear conversion path or metrics tracked to each step of the funnel
- Missing opportunities for interaction and feedback from customers
Avoiding and addressing these challenges upfront will help your manufacturing company create an optimal sample order offering — one that is seamless for your customer, effective for your business, and the beginning of a long-term supplier-buyer relationship.
Looking to launch sample ordering for your business? Get in touch with Joe Harouni, Commerce Practice Lead at Avionos, and learn more about our sample order offering. Or, check out a sample order demo here.