Businesses operating in 2019 face a very different environment than those which began operating several years ago. Technology has drastically changed the way businesses make purchases. Naturally, B2B firms have had to change the way they market and sell their products and services. This article focuses on how you need to tweak your sales strategy to incorporate technology and adapt to modern buyer behavior.
Offer Personalized Sales Service
This doesn’t simply mean referring to frequent buyers by name. In 2019, it means using a robust customer relationship management program to understand the businesses you serve. You need to be able to give them exactly what they need. You should use the data collected by your CRM to create a perfect user experience. Examine buyers’ purchase histories, learn their needs and discover their pain points. This enables you to anticipate the products or services they need and contact them when you have something to offer them.
A CRM system can also help every member of the sales team to offer the same level of service to a buyer. Regular buyers usually develop a relationship with one sales representative. If that person who knows them well isn’t available, they may not get the same experience. When you have a record of the buyer’s preferences, past purchases and their last interaction with a rep, it makes it easier for anyone to serve them well.
You should also seriously consider offering the tools and services which buyers are asking for, especially when you stand to gain. More and more buyers, especially large ones, want their suppliers to be Punchout-enabled. If you’re getting repeated requests for this, maybe it’s time to invest in Punchout Catalogs.
Embrace Real-Time Messaging
There was a time when sales teams did all their work during regular office hours. Buyers wouldn’t expect to get a response if they called your business at 6 p.m. unless you were in a specialized field. Today, buyers and potential buyers send emails or social media messages at all hours of the day and night. And, given the increasingly globalized world in which we live, it may actually be an acceptable time to do business where they are.
Your sales strategy needs to take into account the fact that buyers want to communicate on their terms. This doesn’t mean you need to have someone fielding calls 24/7. Research shows that as much as 30 percent of website visitors expect a live chat feature and that when it is deployed, sales increase. Employ the use of a chatbot to acknowledge queries and provide links to general information or frequently asked questions at a minimum. This way you don’t lose a sale because there was no one available when a potential buyer saw something they wanted.
Use Online Feedback to Guide Your Strategy
What are buyers saying about you online? Most businesses which serve customers know online reviews can make or break their business. The same applies to B2B businesses. The difference is that B2B buyers are more likely to use LinkedIn than other forms of social media to look for reviews and recommendations. If there are frequent complaints about your after sales service or your level of responsiveness, this may turn off potential buyers. Not only do you need to pay attention to what is being said, but you need to tweak your operations accordingly where possible. Word of mouth and third-party endorsements still carry more weight than advertising.
Don’t Ignore Search Engine Optimization
As noted above, B2B buyers do online research. In fact, as much as 89 percent of B2B researchers use the Internet and 73 percent of traffic to B2B sites comes from search engines. If you can’t be found online easily, you’re losing a large percentage of leads. Most people don’t even go past the first page of the search engine results so if you’re on page two for leading keywords, they won’t find you. This means you need to put a lot of effort into creating high-quality, user-friendly content which adds value to your target market. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly and incorporate video to help you rise up the results pages. Learn more about Search Engine Optimization here.
Use Permission-based Marketing
This is another technology-related tip. In the age of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), even if you don’t do business with European companies, buyers have become increasingly sensitive to how their information is being used. You need to proactive transparent about how data will be used and ensure you ask for permission when collecting data. You need to assure them that their private information will not be leaked or used for nefarious purposes.
If you operate within the European Union or European Economic Area, you also need to be aware that you can be punished if you don’t adhere to the regulations. Countries around the world are likely to pass similar laws in the not too distant future so you should make sure your company is keeping an eye on the developments.
A successful, modern B2B sales strategy means offering a personalized customer experience which embraces the technology buyers use. You will be left behind if you don’t do this. Use the tips above to help you craft a strategy in line with your company’s goals.
This article has been written for Times of Startups by Melissa Stanley. Melissa is a veteran tech writer and editor who has worked in several eCommerce companies so far. She has been covering technology online for over five years. She is Client Service Manager of PCGT – PunchOut Catalogs.