Over the last couple of years, B2B buying cycle has changed significantly. The convenience and speed offered by B2C has permeated in the B2B commerce world, thanks to the internet. The industry that was ruled by system of records, as coined by Geoffrey Moore, through legacy ERP, HR and financial systems had to cope up with ubiquitous access, real-time responses and ad-hoc flexibility demanded by today’s buyers.
If your B2B organization decides to have a digital platform for your products without considering the provisions for system of engagement then you might be just adding an extra layer of technology to your sales cycle. Your buyers would be able to place orders, look for shipment status and other things online but you will not be able to increase the speed and predictability of the transactions and in turn this will affect the realization of your organization's revenue. Neither would you be able to engage your clients.
Organizations traditionally tend to store only transactional data; they ignore the process of building trust and interaction with their customers. The reason clients love to work with a particular company or buy from them is beyond just feature and price. How a company treats their clients dictates the pace of their sale closure. The more interactive the e-commerce platform, the better the chances of your business booming.
Today the internet and other technologies have made it possible to offer a very personalized interaction. B2C is already making use of the internet and personalization, and it is impacting the expectations of the purchasing organization. If you don’t bring that aspect of personalization to your B2B sales process there won't be momentum in sales.
The dialogue that happens on your platform (website or e-commerce) has to be a two-way process. You have to move away from a mentality of an online brochure to real e-commerce where users are rating the product and their ratings are preserved and displayed transparently. This will boost the confidence in your brand.
You can engage with your users through online forums or a closed group of customers where they can discuss about the products and services amongst themselves. If they face a problem they can seek help from fellow users of the products than having to wait for the support team to resolve the ticket raised on some helpdesk system for instance.
All these interactions that happen in bits and pieces need to be stitched together to form a communication pattern and contribute to user insights. It will be possible for B2B companies to achieve this and engage with their customers meaningfully at much lower costs due to technology intervention significantly increasing their sales efficiency.