After attending a few recent trade shows and preparing for ProMat in Chicago this April, I’ve noticed one constant in the B2B landscape --> companies are looking at ways to impact their digital customer buying experience. Some are making investments in new dealer portal tools, others in 3D/AR/VR product assets and some are even rolling out customer-facing web configurators. All of the above are ways of providing a better, more modern customer experience.
Forrester reported that 65% of B2B buyers find gathering online superior to working with a sales representative. If you are still leveraging text based quote requests to gather information like Name, Company, Email & Phone Number, the reality is that you are behind when it comes to giving today’s digital customer what they want. Today's digitally savvy buyers don't want to talk to a sales rep to get a ballpark budget. They want to do the research and have that information before getting into the buying process. Those vendors that make it easy for customers to get pricing are the ones who will win out.
The shift to digital selling across configured-to-order and engineered-to-order products is slower than in true eCommerce retail applications. But what happens in B2C will always make its way over to B2B. As "digitally native" millennials continue to make up more and more of the workforce, they’ll come to expect a similar buying experience to Amazon, even in the more complex sales processes. It's up to the vendors to figure out how to make it work. Whether we are talking about configuring a large piece of industrial equipment (C2O), or routing a conveyor system through a warehouse (E2O), buyers want a quick and seamless experience because that’s what they’re accustomed to in their day-to-day life.
The new B2B consumers are more likely to be anonymous and do their research before contacting a sales reps. This means looking at multiple reviews and case studies to help them make an educated decision. For example, if you are a customer looking to buy financial software, companies like G2 Crowd make it quick and seamless to research vendors (and market leaders) in that specific category.
So I'll ask you, as a manufacturer or dealer channel partner, how are you changing your selling approach to provide customers a modern sales experience? We'd love to hear your ideas, thoughts and comments!