Welcome to Part II of our four-part series on Optimizing the B2B Experience to Meet B2C Expectations. In this series we are looking closely at three key issues identified in the Forrester report “B2B E-commerce: A Trillion Dollars For the Taking”. Today we’ll talk about the potential for conflict between direct sales and e-commerce for B2B organizations.

The Perceived Conflict

If your company has experienced success through a traditional “feet on the street” approach for B2B sales, it’s no surprise that you may view the heart of your operations as your sales team—not an online selling platform. The question is: should a company really be one or the other? Will investing resources in developing an e-commerce presence really undermine the work of your sales team?

The answer is No. But transitioning into the world of B2B e-commerce does mean a changing role for your sales force. Many B2B transactions are complex and require in-person client education, even when online sales are available. Direct sales combined with e-commerce gives your company the ability to maximize revenues by deploying your sales team when in-person help really adds value, but allowing customers to easily complete straightforward and repeat purchasing tasks.

How Technology Can Bridge the Gap Between Channels

  • Let your sales force focus on new business and complex sales— Using an e-commerce platform with online customer service tools make it easier for sales people to focus on finding new business, growing existing accounts and handling complex sales instead of being tied up with routine customer requests.
    • Move routine tasks online by implementing self-service models – Offer your customers online self-service tools such as placing repeat orders, immediate access to sales history and account activity, bill payment, order tracking and other customer service related tasks. 
    • Expand your customer service capabilities to expand into new markets – Self-service tools can also make it affordable for B2B organizations to address the needs of small-scale customers, which can allow your company to cover more markets.
  • Arm reps with mobile-assist technologies to increase efficiency — Outfitting your sales force with mobile assist technologies such as tablets and smart phones makes it easier for them to access relevant sales collateral on the fly as well as increasing their efficiency and ability to service a large book of business.

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