How Sales Leaders Can Meet Modern eCommerce B2B Challenges

November 26, 2018

How Sales Leaders Can Meet Modern eCommerce B2B Challenges

With B2B eCommerce sales expected to reach an unprecedented $6.6 trillion by 2020, it’s no secret that the B2B buying and selling experience has drastically evolved over the past decade+. According to a recent Accenture survey, 61% of all B2B transactions start online, indicating that B2B buyers have much higher eCommerce expectations - and a lower patience threshold when it comes to dealing with sales representatives. As a result, sales leaders are facing new challenges and are being forced to adapt processes and strategies that have been in place for what now may seem far too long.

Between smaller revenue streams and stiff competition by low-cost B2B models that are popping up across the industry, sales leaders are scrambling to find a competitive edge - one that offers a frictionless omnichannel buying experience for their customers, while still relying on sales reps to create personal connections and build long-lasting relationships. Finding this balance is the key to success for B2B sales leaders, but how can it be achieved (and maintained)?

Let AI do the dirty work

If there’s any doubt about AI’s critical role in commerce, just look at what Amazon has done. In the B2B space, AI-driven platforms are designed to use customer data, as well as a mix of real time market, cost, and competitive dynamics, to deploy strategic and accurate pricing on a per-item, per-customer basis. While much of this work has traditionally been handled manually or by more complicated models that simply cannot consider as many factors, these types of new-age machine learning solutions are now almost mandatory for and B2B sellers who want to keep up with competition and offer a truly personalized experience for their buyers.

Because AI can more accurately quote prices and maximize the value of every transaction, buyers can feel more confident in their purchasing decisions, all while still feeling like their experience was an authentic and highly-personalized one. Of course, relying on AI to “do the dirty work” leads to another massive benefit for sales organizations who are focused on customer retention.

Let your sales team do what they do best

Without a proper AI solution, sales reps are often left to handle way too many accounts, and are forced to spend the majority of their time acting as mere order takers, rather than order makers. Regardless of how much business is now conducted online, sales representatives still and will always play a critical role in establishing personal relationships with customers. In fact, this role becomes increasingly important as a supplement to omnichannel B2B transactions, and can be a key differentiator at the end of the buyer journey - the point at which a purchase decision is made. 

Allowing AI solutions to handle the more time-consuming, backend tasks, while allowing your sales reps to do what they do best - tend to customer needs - will pay enormous dividends in the way of better customer relationships, especially with the increased expectations that B2B buyers now have of sales reps. 

The bottom line: Establish a fluid omnichannel shopping experience

Establishing a fluid omnichannel shopping experience is absolutely critical in today’s B2B commerce landscape. B2B buyers now expect a personalized experience, (including pricing), and would rather conduct transactions digitally. That said, finding a proper AI-driven eCommerce solution will ensure that buyers are getting said experience on a consistent basis.

Additionally, AI solutions offer just as much of a benefit internally, freeing up valuable time for sales reps who would otherwise be stuck taking orders and having to perform inefficient pricing guesswork. With AI handling the backend work in a more efficient and accurate way, sales reps can then focus on what they do best - tending to specific customer needs and building long-lasting relationships. A true omnichannel experience is one where all channels work together toward creating an authentic customer experience.  Leveraging your human resources and technology with an integrated approach has the potential to change your sales process for the better, and improve your bottom line. 

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For more information on how AI-driven solutions enable a frictionless omnichannel B2B customer experience, visit our eCommerce solutions page.

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