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Why B2B online selling is a natural extension of your business model

By Victoria Dyke on Thu 02 October 2014 in Web & eCommerce

B2B selling is very different to B2C. Which is why I am so often surprised at companies trying to make B2C online selling ideas work for their B2B customers.


Take the example of a common sales chain for motorbike clothing.

A UK distributor buys the clothing from a US manufacturer (who probably makes the clothing in China). They import this into their UK warehouse and aggregate these products from their main supplier. These products are sold to bike shops up and down the UK who in turn sell their products to bike owners.

Interestingly, bike owner’s shop loyalty is low, and the frequency of purchase is also fairly low (B2C). Their loyalty lies with the bike brand. However, the sales from a UK distributor to a bike shop (B2B) are much more valuable and frequent. Unlike in B2C there is a heavy focus on relationship building in B2B, due to more regular interaction and investment in advice and support.

So does this mean that online selling suits the B2C transactional selling better than the valuable relationship building B2B sales model? Definitely not!

Research shows that 88% of B2B customers prefer to buy online and in fact two thirds of B2B organisations are already selling online. Why?

Computers are poor at building relationships, that is true – but they are really good at:

  • Cost effective and error free handling of the transactional stuff, like pricing calculations on a customer’s special pricing and order processing. This gives your reps more time to spend on valuable interactions and is really important to get right for a customer placing regular orders, one mistake could cost a relationship.
  • Working evenings and weekends when your customers have the time to sit down and re-orders their stock. Your customers can place orders at a time that suits them, when they’re not trying to run their own business, probably a time when your reps are busy.
  • Taking away the hum-drum repetitive activities (and reducing the paperwork) will free your business from dull and error prone manual tasks. More of a rep’s (very expensive) time is then available to pro-actively help customers and build loyalty and long term value.

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