By Stuart McLaren on Tue 14 April 2015 in Blog
I hope that none of us are in any doubt that the internet is a critical medium for helping companies in all industries and sectors to promote themselves and their products or services online.
We all turn to the internet to research products and organisations, so it’s probably no surprise that this is also true of companies operating in the B2B arena. In fact, the latest annual State of B2B Procurement study from Acquity Group, (part of Accenture Interactive), shows that: 94% of B2B buyers report conducting some degree of research online before making a business purchase, including 55% who do so for at least half of their purchases.
As pretty much all of us know this, it is unsurprising that very few businesses do not have a website of some kind. Even if this is just giving customers and potential customers some basic information about themselves.
However, the really interesting thing is the number of businesses that haven’t made the next logical step – allowing existing and maybe even potential customers as well, place their orders online. So why have so many businesses not made this move?
We hear tonnes of excuses as to why one particular business thinks they are somehow different to all those others that are being successful online. In fact, if you’re not already selling online the chances are that one of these excuses below is the reason behind your decision. In which case I would urge you to read on because we don’t just think your business can take advantage of selling online, we know it can.
Reason 1: “My products are too complex to sell online”
Your product is probably bespoke every time it is sold and needs some configuration discussions, or is a high ticket capital expenditure item that requires a consultative sales process.
What you should sell online: Expand your horizons. If your product or sales process is so complex you’re probably selling training, servicing, calibration, spare parts etc as well. All of these items can and should be being sold online.
Businesses like you selling online: Penny Hydraulics – Cranes | Marlec – Solar Panels | FAAC – Automatic gates and barriers
Reason 2: “The customers that I have would never buy via the internet”
You’ve either made the assumption that your customers don’t want to buy online or you don’t think they’re the type of companies that use the internet.
Why you should sell online: In our experience if buying online is the most convenient option then your customers will do it. There may be some initial resistance, but there’s a reason the phrase ‘build it and they will come’ exists. The fact is over 88% of B2B customers have stated they would prefer to buy online.
Companies like you selling online: Lamp Source – selling to electricians, out on the road a lot, ordered from sites via their mobile. Now they order online, usually outside work hours.
Reason 3: “Our differentiator is personal service; we don’t want people to have to buy online from us”
The nature of SMEs is offering a personal service; we can definitely relate to this. The last thing you want is your customers to feel like they are losing the customer experience that they got from you over the phone.
What you should sell online: Move your repeat purchase sales online such as refills, spare parts etc. 10.4% of B2B buyers say that no sales person is necessary (Acquity Group Study, 2014) so eliminate them from easy sales where you don’t need to have a conversation and focus them on the complex deals. We actually strongly recommend that online is an extension of your offline business model, not a replacement.
Companies like you selling online: IDNS – selling ICT solutions they have built up long standing relationships with customers and didn’t want this to be affected by transferring some business online.
Reason 4: “We’ve tried it and just don’t really get orders via the web”
Let me be honest with you on this one… trading websites that fail haven’t failed because trading online is a failure, they fail because they didn’t offer their customer the right information for a good (and convenient) online experience.
How to actually trade online: Opt for a system properly integrated to your back office accounts. This will mean your customers get their special pricing online, the option to buy on account, the ability to check stock levels, check their order history and the list goes on. All in all, it’s easier, and you’re now open 24/7 so your customers can order whenever they want.
Companies like you selling online: This was the case for a lot of our customers now trading successfully online. Just ask and we’ll put you in touch.
As a final slam dunk on the subject of whether you should investigate trading online – not only can you end up with customers that are more satisfied, but they will also order more, AND more often. These orders then come with LESS admin & processing expense if you have a properly integrated web site, as there is no re-keying!
The excuses are gone… explore the possibilities!
ProspectSoft CRM and eCommerce offers unparalleled integration to Access Dimensions, Exchequer, Pegasus Opera and Sage 50. Get in touch now to find out how we can help extend your business online to benefit you and your customers.
Most of the companies mentioned above can be found on our eCommerce Gallery Site, take a look for more information on their websites and other companies we have worked with.