Digitalization in B2B Sales

Opportunities from the digitalization of retail and distribution

You can see Michael Kirchberger

Michael Kirchberger | 19.04.2019

An illustration with the word "shopping cart"

B2B e-commerce on course for growth

15 % growth per year. These are the current growth rates achieved by online commerce in the business customer segment. While B2B e-commerce was lagging well behind the development in the B2C sector, it is now all the more on the advance.

For B2B companies, the digitization of commerce and sales on the one hand holds considerable revenue potential that still needs to be tapped. On the other hand, it opens up new opportunities for digitally shaping customer acquisition and customer loyalty in a contemporary way and taking them to the next level.

B2B Sales in Transition

The growth of B2B online commerce and the change in buying behavior are logically accompanied by the digitization of sales structures and processes. This is causing companies to rethink their previous sales models. After all, the classic sales process is undergoing radical change. Today, 70% of all B2B purchase decisions are made online - without any direct contact between buyers and sales. At this point, your customers have already completed a large part of their customer journey.

The knowledge about this user behavior can be used to your advantage. In addition to face-to-face customer service, you should give special importance to the digital interaction points between your company and your customers. First and foremost, this could be the visibility of your company in search engines or digital services that you offer your target groups.

Especially in the research (awareness) and consideration phase of the customer journey, excellent sales and marketing measures for inbound marketing and lead generation can be played out.

Opportunities of the digitalization of your sales

Optimize processes, increase sales and efficiency

Digitization and automation enable companies to make sales processes (cost) more efficient, generate higher and additional revenues, and also significantly increase customer satisfaction through better and new offers and services.

  • (Sales) process optimization and efficiency enhancement
  • Offering new products and services to increase sales and competitiveness
  • consistently positive customer experiences at all touchpoints between the company and its customers

New distribution channels and today's digital buyer

In addition to traditional, analog sales channels, new digital sales and communication channels are coming to the fore. On the other hand, companies are facing a new generation of buyers who are younger, more informed and more demanding. Their user behavior is very different from that of their predecessors. Typical B2B buyers are often already digital natives. And they prefer to get their information online, mobile and on various channels, such as your website, your online store, your social media profiles or on comparison portals and marketplaces.

Four success factors of sales digitization

1. networking of online and offline sales

Digitization in sales does not mean the elimination of the traditional sales force, nor does it mean focusing solely on the company's own online store. You will achieve the highest sales impact and customer satisfaction when digital and personal sales go hand in hand. This can be achieved, for example, through digital services and smart "helpers" that can be used equally by sales staff and customers. These include self-service portals, product configurators and sales apps that can be used to create individual offers and call up product and customer data and availability in real time.

2. increase online visibility and show relevance

There is only one first impression and nowadays you will make it mainly online. Because the buyer's journey begins digitally in 2 out of 3 cases, as he or she searches search engines for a suitable supplier, calls up your company profile on online marketplaces and finally arrives at your company website. In order to be found and to convince with your product or service, your website and/or online store must therefore be SEO-optimized in terms of technology and content. Online marketing and especially content marketing is a very effective method in the B2B environment to increase visibility in search engines, to increase traffic on the website and to win new customers. Because with good and value-added content you demonstrate relevance and high expertise and thus prove that you are the "right" provider.

3. create a positive user experience

Keep it simple. Keep it comfortable. The buzzword"B2B consumerization" describes one of the most important requirements of today's B2B buyers: the convergence of the customer experience in B2B sales with the standards of B2C commerce. Taking into account the specific circumstances, a B2B e-commerce solution should offer the same convenience and interaction options that users are used to from their private buying behavior. Above all, this means that information and ordering options should be easy and intuitive to access and use at any time and in any place. The key to success is therefore usability, self-service options, mobile commerce and personalization with customer-specific prices, order history and convenient functions such as one-click reordering.

4. networking of systems, data and processes

A powerful and future-proof technological basis is one of the main prerequisites in e-commerce and the digitization of sales processes. Through digitization and automation, processes can be made more efficient, error rates can be significantly reduced, and holistic data sets can be obtained for a personalized customer approach. The so-called 360° degree view of the customer is created.

ERP, CRM, merchandise management, logistics and payment service providers, commerce, content and PIM systems, as well as marketing and analytics tools - when seamlessly networked - lead to an enormous increase in business efficiency and ultimately to higher customer satisfaction through a positive user experience.

You can see Michael Kirchberger

About the author

Michael Kirchberger

Michael Kirchberger is the owner and managing director of SNK. His expertise lies in digitizing the marketing and sales activities of B2B companies along the entire customer lifecycle. He believes in "Done is Better Than Perfect" and knows why B2B companies in particular often struggle to implement quick wins in the digital environment while pursuing a sustainable digitization strategy.