As the VP of strategy for commerce platform PROS, Geoff Webb has a lot of conversations with B2B companies who are considering a shift towards digital selling. One he had not long ago with a large specialized food manufacturers was fairly typical.
“Their comment was that e-commerce as kind of a thing to look at — almost a curiosity,” Webb told 360 Magazine. “With the pandemic, that has obviously changed. This is now 100% business priority.”
Though they are often highly sophisticated organizations with a lot of tech-enabled business processes, B2B firms have sometimes been surprisingly resistant to encouraging their customers to make purchases online. This may be in part because many B2B sales are consultative, can involve multiple decision makers and can have highly custom pricing.
In a survey PROS conducted with more than 1,000 B2B purchasers, however, 44 per cent said they would opt for digital channels over meeting with a salesperson by the end of 2020. That should say something to those redefining what the customer experience (CX) in B2B looks like after the pandemic, according to Webb.
“The buyers are accelerating online ahead of the vendors,” he said. “B2B buyers have consistently told us they want to be in control, that they have the desire to do the research and they want to be highly informed about what their options are.”
If you work in B2B, subscribe or log in as Webb discusses:
- The emotional stakes buyers face now
- Where B2b sales reps will need to focus in the future
- Key areas where transparency will build trust
Not B2B buying as usual
In a strange way, the outbreak of COVID-19 should almost have been like a gift to B2B sales reps, because for once