The B2B landscape is changing, and it’s changing fast. Historically, B2B companies have not had to be as cognizant of pricing changes as B2C companies. Today, because B2B consumers are becoming as quick to purchase online as B2C customers, B2B product and service providers have to become as Internet-savvy as their B2C brothers and sisters when it comes to online sales.
The fact is that more B2B buyers are researching and purchasing online than ever before. They’re shopping online for the best products and services at the best prices. Manufacturers, distributors and suppliers, in particular, are doing more B2B direct sales as a result of upping online purchasing power.
Just a few years ago, manufacturers, distributors and suppliers could do with simple websites that merely proved that they were actual businesses that at least were legitimate enough to have an online presence. As we move into 2015, it’s impossible to ignore the reality that online audiences in the B2B space have become increasingly reliant on their potential B2B partners to provide them with the online information they need to—at the very least—consider sending their potential partners a request for more information or a formal proposal.
Gone are the days when you could rely on your sales team to make calls and refer prospects to your website and expect that merely having a website is reason enough for prospects to continue to interact with your organization. From sundown to sunup, today’s B2B landscape shifts quickly. Purchasing decisions are made in a matter of clicks rather than a matter of weeks or months.
The modern B2B sales cycle is on fire—or it should be on fire. If yours isn’t on fire; that is, if you’re behind the times in terms of your online sales and marketing efforts (the way so many B2B technology companies’ customers that have legacy networks or are relying on outdated products and services to manage daily operations are behind the times), the growth of your business is either on hold or being stunted.
How can you catch up? How can you move ahead? How can you outdo your online competition?
One of the easiest ways for B2B companies to begin building a stronger online purchasing presence is to make purchasing easier.
If you’re not ready for prospective customers to pay for your B2B products and services online, your best move is to make it as easy as possible for them to contact you. Providing a simple online “How can I help you?” pop-up from a representative with an actual name on your website is a relatively easy first step you can make towards interactivity with prospects that visit your site.
To make purchasing easy, you should also make purchasing orders, checkout and invoicing information available online. This will help you and your customers. It will reduce the calls your customer service representatives have to field and help you establish your business as a transparent, trusted partner.
Perhaps the number one thing today’s B2Bers have to realize is that they really do have as much opportunity to reap online sales opportunities as B2Cers. Whether your B2B organization is large or small, facilitating more online conversations and transactions with prospects is going to be in your organization’s best interest as you move into 2015.