The success of several business-to-business companies was assembled by means of a strong sales team. This induces B2B owners and managers to frequently prohibit ecommerce because they see it as competing with those sales employees.
However, the B2B marketplace is radically changing. Increasingly, business buyers prefer shopping and ordering online. And the growth of Amazon Business and other advanced B2B ecommerce websites is forcing heretofore successful producers, suppliers, and vendors to change.
Just how can a B2B company transition into ecommerce? How can it affect its sales staff?
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It is not an either-or scenario. Ecommerce does not remove or reduce the need for sales people. It is, rather, a tool which can increase the amount your salespeople can sell and increase their capacity to compete. In actuality, in my experience in implementing B2B websites, I have never seen a business downsize its sales team because of ecommerce.
Integrating Ecommerce with Sales Personnel
Obtaining support for ecommerce out of a revenue division is dependent upon how you approach it and convey it. Begin by describing how ecommerce can make it easier for sales employees to perform their jobs and for your organization make more money.
Here are a few common issues and possible solutions.
Sales commissions. If commissions are a vital part of your team’s compensation, they could be jeopardized by online sales. One solution would be to give your salespeople charge for sales placed by their accounts online. The ecommerce website becomes a tool where salespeople can take and process orders easier and faster than before. Additionally, customers usually enjoy the advantage ordering what they need, when they need it. Along with your company could get more orders via up-selling related goods while clients are on your website, earning more commissions to the sales staff.
Efficiency. An ecommerce website make salespeople more efficient. By allowing them to log in, they could:
- Place orders on behalf of clients;
- Give special pricing to clients;
- Check on stock and availability;
- See a customer’s order history;
- Check on order status for a client.
Wigwam Socks is a client of my company. Wigwam assembled a B2B web portal for its own reps, allowing them to place orders on behalf of consumers and check on the status of orders placed through the website and offline. Reps can provide customers with special pricing and conditions through the internet portal, and keep shopping carts for orders which haven’t been placed.
Wigwam Socks, a Sheboygan, Wis. maker of high quality socks, has an internet portal where sales reps can place orders on behalf of consumers.
Wigwam’s sales reps are able to look up offline and online order statuses through the ecommerce portal.
Simplified quoting. For complex products and for non-public pricing, a site can simplify the quoting process. Allow clients to answer questions that direct them to appropriate products. Show alternatives to customers and enable them to choose what they want. Customers can build their very own quote and send it electronically to a salesperson to follow up. Supporting product information and technical specifications can help clients decide, and may also assist reps in the sales process.
Eaton, an energy management provider, allows buyers to personalize hydraulic products online. Buyers can then print or download the specifications to share with their distributor.
Communication and lead generation. B2B buyers enjoy the Internet. But they also enjoy communicating with a real person, even if it is not on the telephone. A live chat support on a B2B website can help. It enables clients to get questions answered quickly, in real time.
Another effective way to encourage B2B sales reps is with direct scoring, wherein you score and track a visitor based on her action on the website. This may be integrated with client management applications to show which prospects or customers are interested in your products, particularly significant dollar products.
Lead scoring is a component of marketing automation platforms, such as Pardot, Eloqua, and Marketo. These platforms also enable automatic emails out of the salespeople to prospects, depending on the prospects’ behaviour.
In a nutshell, a B2B ecommerce website can help sales teams, not compete with them. The truth is that B2B companies that are not using web-based tools to support their sales teams will lose out to rivals that are. Younger buyers and sales people will come to expect the ability to utilize the internet to place orders, look up information, and interact with your organization.
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