7 Ways to Increase B2B Sales through a Customer-Centric Strategy: Build Stronger Relationships through a Better Online Experience

Tuesday, September 15, 2020 | Stacey Panco
Reading Time: 5 minutes

There is no questioning the power of digitization to increase B2B sales. But in today’s Amazon-driven world, not any old online ordering experience will do.

Customer experience leaders didn’t get there by mistake. For every Chewy.com, there are dozens of Pets.com-level failures. A customer-centric strategy influenced by B2C business behaviors is a necessity to thrive in today’s B2B market. 

Not content to rest on their laurels, they continue to evolve based on the needs of their customers. These businesses are proactive instead of reactive. But the benefits move well beyond more sales (not that greater order volume isn’t reason enough). 

Businesses that embrace a personalized B2B eCommerce also enjoy: 

  • Maximized productivity 
  • Improved collaboration, internally and externally
  • Decreased costs
  • Minimized errors
  • Increased customer base 

Combining order history, demographics, and user preferences give B2B eCommerce businesses the opportunity to provide fully customized digital shopping experiences. What’s more, your business stands out to existing customers and potential buyers in an already crowded market. This customer-centric strategy can lift sales by more than 10%. Here we breakdown the intricacies of how.

7 Ways a Personalized Online Portal Can Increase B2B Sales

Optimize the customer journey to increase B2B sales

1. Enhanced Customer Experience

From curbside pick-up at Target to top-notch service on Zappos.com, customers know great experiences. 

“What did I buy last time?” Make it easy to buy it again. 

“Is this available now?” Show inventory at the product level.

“When will my order arrive?” Share real-time order statuses.

Customer experience leaders provide the most relevant information at the time for the task at hand. Customers want simple. And while B2B businesses know this, they still lack the customer-centric focus of their B2C counterparts. In our experience, getting the little things just right makes all the difference.

What you might not know is that 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for great customer experiences. An average of 13% more if the added features are high-quality! Meaning small investments into the customer experience translate into big dividends for your B2B business. 

2.  Simplified Reordering

26.8% of B2B eCommerce businesses receive more than half of their online sales from repeat orders. So why not make those transactions as seamless as possible?

B2C businesses have been leveraging this tactic successfully for years. DoorDash, for example, makes it easy to reorder your favorite meal – customizations and all – from your top restaurant. What makes these experiences simple – minimal clicks, easily accessible, personal approach – provide a roadmap for B2B businesses. 

Reinforcing this sentiment, 86% prefer using self-service tools for reordering rather than speaking with a sales representative. Give customers what they want! Visibility into order history along with custom order templates, simplifying repetitive buying and parlaying into more sales for your business.

3.  Improved Customer Engagement

Take a look at your phone. How many applications do you have? 70? Maybe 100.  Now think about how many of those apps you actually use on a daily basis. 

The average person has 80 different apps on their phone, but only 9 see daily use. The majority of applications are forgotten quickly. Because they lack the coveted “sticky-factor.”

When COVID-19 hit, people had a myriad of options for staying connected – for both business and personal use. Uberconference. Webex. Microsoft Teams. But Zoom quickly emerged as the leader. Why?

Functionality-wise, they are very similar, but the one thing that set Zoom apart? Virtual backgrounds. This feature added a level of personalization others couldn’t beat out of the gate. Zoom provided that stickiness that had users coming back again and again.

This highlights the importance of a customer-centric strategy. Make your customers want to order from you. Not because they have to, but because it’s their preference. 

How is this best achieved? Through a scalable platform that offers feature sets focused on engagement. For example, keep your sales team in direct contact with your customers through a collaborative sales feature

While completely digital, these real-time conversations allow your sales team to upsell while providing concierge-level service to your customers. This increased engagement builds stronger long-term relationships, greater brand loyalty, and therefore, more sales for your business.

4.  Customer Visibility

91% of B2B buyers prefer doing business with companies knowledgeable about who they are. When I contact Chewy.com, not only do they know me, they also know the name of my dog. Now THAT’S a personalized-approach. 

Best run businesses don’t treat customers like a number. A personalized B2B online portal allows businesses to anticipate customers’ needs based on their order histories. It also places the most pertinent order information – from status to shipment tracking – in the hands of customers.

This benefits all sides of the business – from forward-facing to backend.

Customers/Buyers

The self-service approach gives customers access to the order information they want whenever they need it. This significantly cuts down the number of inquiries to call centers. 

Customer Service Representatives

Customer service representatives can talk with buyers on a more personal level. Basic order information is self-service, giving customer service representatives the necessary bandwidth to troubleshoot intricate questions or problems.  

Also, call centers are no longer tethered to a specific location. A customer-centric strategy benefits your CSRs the same way as customers – information is available from anywhere, at any time.

Sales Representatives

A personalized digital approach does not remove the human factor. It’s just another tool sales reps have to sell more to existing customers. Just in a more streamlined and efficient way.  

5.  Competitive Advantage

88% of B2B buyers would stop engaging with a vendor who failed to meet their digital sales needs. 29% of those cited a lack of personalization as the driving factor for not completing a purchase.

The marketplace is more crowded than ever before. That means current and potential buyers have more options. 

Further, an Accenture Strategy report found 33% of B2B customers abandoning business relationships because of a lack of personalization alone.

These stats add up to the fact that a personalized digital approach is the way to build – and keep – customers. More customers lead to more sales – and happy customers lead to long term relationships with your business. 

6.   24/7 Availability

A customer’s emergent needs will not always arise during regular business hours. They will take their business to the company that never really closes thanks to a personalized digital presence. 

Remember, however, a customer-centric strategy does not end at the checkout. Be sure to offer support that also aligns with the needs of your customer. These tactics could include live chat support, an integrated ticketing system, or as mentioned previously a collaborative sales component. 

7.  Quick Go to Market

Personalization. Customization. Implementation. 

These are terms that equate to dollar signs, typically with a lot of zeros at the end. It also means months to a year of development time, with no concept of when you’ll begin to see ROI.

However, it is possible to achieve personalization without customization. A cloud-based eCommerce platform like CUE Commerce seamlessly integrates with a variety of ERP, CRM, and EDI systems. This minimizes costs and time to market drastically so businesses begin to see ROI, and increased sales, almost immediately. 

A customer-centric approach to your eCommerce business will increase sales in a variety of ways. On the path of digital transformation, it’s never too late to align with the preferences of your customers. Delivering a world-class customer experience is a strategy that will lead to more customers and better relationships, and ultimately, increase B2B sales.

Stacey Panco
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