As companies increasingly look to online, e-commerce websites to expand brand reach, traditional job functions such as sales and marketing are shifting to accommodate this new platform—an initiative that rings true for both B2C and B2B companies. Though B2C entities are most commonly associated with online sales, the importance of optimizing a company’s B2B e-commerce website cannot be overlooked, as in a majority of cases, the same elements of engagement are required. In fact, according to a recent industry survey, of120 B2B e-commerce professionals, 80% of respondents either “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that their customers’ expectations followed B2C shopper practices.
To this end, Salesforce offers several tips to help make the process of adopting a B2B e-commerce site seamless and encourage sales reps make the most of every interaction:
Coordinate Efforts Across Sales and Marketing
Research shows that B2B e-commerce platforms that align their sales and marketing teams experience 36 percent high retention rates than those that don’t. Perhaps even more so than in in-person meetings, e-commerce websites rely on visual marketing elements to help sell products and services.
When sales and marketing reps work together, they can present offerings in a way that is informative and true to form, yet dynamic enough to stand out in today’s competitive online environment.
Optimize Self-Service Tools to Maximize Engagement
While still in the early stages of development, many companies are looking to self-service technology such as tablets or kiosks, that enable customers to perform their own transactions—whether that entails looking for product information, checking out, or simply troubleshooting an issue. While sales reps may facilitate this activity, 30 percent of customers choose to do it themselves the first time.
Though designed to make transactions simpler and faster, some self-service tools can actually hinder a sales rep’s performance if they’re not optimally designed to easily understand an inquiry leading to frustrated customers. Therefore, natural language-based applications such as the Salesforce Service Cloud are proving immensely valuable for facilitating smoother customer/rep interaction.
Consider Adopting a Cloud-Based Mobile Storefront
Depending on WiFi to access your company’s e-commerce B2B website can limit where and for how long customers interact with your information. Alternatively, a cloud-based, mobile storefront application allows users to access your online interface and work entirely offline, and when they do regain Internet access, all their data is maintained. Studies show that enabling this functionality and flexibility helps manufacturers and wholesale distributors increase sales by up to 20 percent.
The business initiative to “cater to the customer” has never been more imperative, and this applies to both B2C and B2B companies. Regardless of end user, creating an environment that appeals to their interest, is tailored to their preferences, and is easily accessible across today’s omnichannel environment is critical. While B2B sales roles might be transforming as e-commerce takes hold, they’re still as essential as ever, and equipping reps with the right tools they need to boost brand engagement is still a top company priority.
Ezra, Oren, “5 Best Practices for B2B E-Commerce Adoption,” Salesforce, August 29, 2015, https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2015/08/5-best-practices-b2b-ecommerce-adoption.html?d=70130000000tP4G.