We have been talking about digital transformation for many years and the reality is that we are still at the beginning of the process. Although COVID has changed the context, accelerated the process of digital transformation exponentially, and is again generating a lot of noise in this regard, there is still a great need to adapt to digitization for many companies. But we are not so aware of the dimension of these digital changes. Firstly, because there are still many to come and secondly, because it is very difficult to get away from the tree to see the forest.
One of the great changes has occurred in B2B business. A study by McKinsey (October 2020) on the transformation of B2B digital sales offers some useful insights in this regard :
The preference for digital B2B sales has doubled. Customers want self-service tools: Online chat is the preferred channel to contact suppliers.The preference for ordering from mobile applications increases by 30%. + 250% on orders via mobile application. For this reason, companies that offer a good digital experience are twice as likely to be hired.
What has motivated the change to digital B2B sales has been that teams worked remotely (96%) and purchase decision-makers have realized that they prefer the digital channel (65%) because they obtain equal or better results than before of the pandemic (the countries where this change occurs the most are: China, India, Spain and the UK).
So what could we do for our B2B marketing strategy in order to adapt to the following changes :
Convert the webs into commercial platforms.
Define a marketing strategy that supports B2B sales.
Facilitate the digitization of the commercial team.
So far, we have the data that describe the reality and the methodology that will help us take the first steps. Perfect. But what now? Companies don't change just like that. The digitization of B2B companies begins with people, and first with a relatively a simple change of mindset. What happens? Well, as in all great changes, this begins with people. If the people that make up the company (and ultimately the sector) are not moderately digital, the transformation of these businesses will cost much as the data from the studies say otherwise.
Hence, this change, at least the beginning of the change, begins with a simple change in mentality.
It is curious to see how our way of seeing things changes when we are at home or in the office. At home we make purchases online, we watch series on digital platforms, we participate (to a greater or lesser extent) in social networks, etc., etc.
But we come to our work in a B2B company and we manage the orders by printing purchase orders and signing them. That is, at home we are in 2021 and at the office in the year 2000 (or almost).
For this reason, we talk about the famous digital transformation, changes in processes, tools, ... a lot of things that represent such big changes that companies do not find the time to undertake them. It has happened (and continues to happen), in B2C, and it looks like the same thing is going to happen in B2B. In reality, big changes start with small things. Why don't we dress our B2B businesses in B2C? Why don't we apply common sense and try to apply what we do at home to our B2B businesses?
So, where does the digitization of B2B companies begin?
Well, wherever. The change is cultural, but it begins with deep knowledge and adaptation to customers. It is, and always will be, the guide for the transformation of our companies. Based on the analysis of the problems along the customer journey of purchase, you will realize that the solutions to the problems are pure common sense and not so advanced that they pose an obstacle when it comes to implementing them.
Let's see some of the digital proposals by phase of the purchase process:
Solution for the knowledge stage:
Provide the necessary information through PDF catalogs (perfect moment to define a micro-conversion and ask for the email in return) and online assistance in real-time (how many B2B websites do you know with online assistance of this type? It's more of an eCommerce, right? No.
This is the key moment, whether the final conversion is a sale or a qualified registration, it is when we must have a clear and optimized process, all the information at hand, online assistance, etc. remember that we are dealing with a professional buyer who makes a the decision for his company (less weight of emotional factors).
Immaculate purchase process:
Be it a real purchase or a qualified lead, if you are in this step, it is because you have thought about it and you have half a sale made.
Detailed monitoring of post-conversion and loyalty processes through personalized services / content.
If you look there is nothing different from what we could propose for any eCommerce or B2C website. The real difference is in the mindset of the company and management's commitment to digital.