How relevant is your b2b sales team? Today, digital empowers your customers to discover and learn about your brand without ever talking to your sales team. In fact, research indicates over 70% of your B2B customers begin their search via Google and 57% have purchased $5,000 or more online. Moreover, a growing number of larger corporations with budgets of $500MM+ purchase directly via the supplier’s website often via EDI. Interestingly, half of these organizations are spending 90% of their budget online according to a 2013 State of B2B Procurement Study. So, as the customer shifts to the online marketplace, how can you ensure you’re ready? 

Your web presence should act as your virtual sales associate regardless of whether you sell product directly online or via distributor or offline channels.

We’re seeing a pattern of sales executives retiring and not being replaced, a growing end customer base with no direct sales channel support and greater focus by companies on operational efficiencies and right sizing teams. The role of the influencer, especially Millennials, is impacting how information is gathered and shared as their presence becomes mainstream in organizations. They may not be the primary decision maker (yet), but their voice is being heard as part of the product selection process. This means that your digital experience must blend B2C best practices into your overall site. Rich media, images, robust search and related items are simply expected without gateways or impediments to gather and share information. When executed well, online self-service experiences also garner higher customer satisfaction.

Content is critical.

Stakeholders all have different expectations based on their role and the challenge is how to create contextual experiences that serve the right data just in time. But what is the right data? Latest product specs, obsolete, related or replacement parts, older manuals for easy reference or even how to use the product training modules can all be important elements, in the right context. Meta tags with informative title descriptions, published dates and meta-keywords will help improve the ability to find and select the right content. Conducting a full audit of existing content helps inform the right schema and taxonomy needed to support brand(s) and product lines today and tomorrow as product catalogs change and grow.

The hub of this content resides in a well-designed product detail page. Pricing (list & personalized pricing) and availability top the list for many visitors who measure site success as the shortest time required to be on the site. Others, are looking for related content including product alternatives, manuals or tutorials to discover, learn or validate they have the right product to solve their needs. They will invest considerable time and will define their experience as a success with the amount of information they can easily consume. Well designed self-serve models support each of these customer journeys and success metrics must be contextualized to report the types of experiences. In a future post, we’ll discuss the measurement and KPI’s to better understand what is working today and areas for future optimization of your web presence.

So, as you begin the consideration process of transforming your digital experience, remember to consider the following questions:

1. Is your digital ecosystem supporting the early sales funnel lifecycle well?

2. What content is needed to create awesome experiences for your key stakeholders? Is finding content easy?

3. Do you have a solid Product Detail Page that can be easily searched, found and explored?

Debbie Carkner is the VP eCommerce Strategy at SMITH.

Tags: B2b, Strategy and Intelligence