Technology upgrades alone won’t differentiate you from your competitors. Learn about how a digital self-service strategy can harness the power of your people and your technology to win sales and keep your buyers happy.

If you’re in the B2B sales channel, chances are you’ve heard the tired trope – B2B buyers are B2C buyers too, online B2B buying experiences are lagging compared to B2C buying, your buyers expect a familiar online experience because they’re used to consumer experiences, be more like Amazon, yada yada yada.

Maybe you upgraded to that slick new CRM system. Maybe you bought a new eCommerce platform to show off your products. Maybe you even dabbled in social media, or automated email distribution, or dove into the content marketing game to shine some digital light onto your #brand.

Those are all good steps to take in building out your B2B sales digital experience. But we here at SMITH have one question for you...

How’s your digital self-service strategy coming along?

Don’t get us wrong, those technology upgrades – CRM, eCommerce, marketing automation, etc. – are vital and are table stakes for any B2B seller (if this is news to you, you should give us a call!). But a digital strategy extends well beyond the software you use. 

Your digital strategy is a marathon, and technology upgrades are somewhere in the first ten miles. SMITH, and our clients, believe that a thorough self-service strategy is proving to be the Heartbreak Hill – how you implement all of your technologies, transform your business processes, and digitally enable your customers is separating the elites from the pretenders.

Developing a comprehensive digital self-service strategy demands that you take a step back and evaluate the ecosystem of your business. Technology advances are encroaching on tasks traditionally performed by sales professionals, yet those technologies are simultaneously expanding your company’s ability to serve your customers. Companies that find a way to use technology resources to improve the efficacy of their sales resources, and vice versa, will be the ones growing fastest.

If you don’t seriously evaluate the intersection of your people and your software, you may keep sales knowledge and technology insights in separate buckets and doom your customer self-service entirely. Forrester estimates that by 2020, 1 million B2B sales professionals will lose their jobs to self-service eCommerce technologies, strictly because customers overwhelmingly prefer to research and buy online versus interacting with a traditional salesperson. Six out of 10 of your customers, says Forrester, would rather use your website than talk with your sales force. Ask yourself: Is my business dependent on sales tactics executed by sales pros to turn a profit? Am I working to transform those key selling tactics into a digital experience? How long ago did my competitors make that same transformation?

b2b-forrester-chart

Using the wealth of data from your software to inform detailed customer journeys is a great place to start when retooling a self-service strategy. Web analytics data can track how customers navigate your website, and progressive profiling can help you figure out exactly what products or content your customers want to see when they come to you. Gartner estimates that by 2020, smart personalization engines will increase digital business profits by 15% through customer intent recognition. Then, combining browsing habits with insights from your sales pros can dictate how your company communicates with those customers. We’re not saying to abandon hope of building personal relationships with clients; however, using data-driven insights to improve your customer’s digital experience may be the differentiating factor that convinces your customers to shop at your company instead of with your competitors. 

An effective digital self-service approach will enable your customers to access a relevant, helpful, and easy buying experience, all while minimizing your pre-sale process costs, automating up-selling/cross-selling through recommendations, and making it easier for your sales team to learn about and connect with clients. Great digital experiences can build customer loyalty, keeping you and your customers happy and excited to do business.

A digital self-service strategy allows brands:

  • to minimize overall cost of sale to seller as pre-sales activity could be heavily digitally based
  • unlike physical sales activities, the seller can monitor the buyer behavior and able to personalize to their direct need
  • the ability to start the price negotiation online were you can learn buyers needs and strategize based on the data and buyer journey till reaching negotiation point
  • the ability to serve content based to show case your subject matter expertise to your buyer 
  • the ability to offer a buyer a view of your different line of business at a glance which increase your revenue prospect
  • to build loyal Omni-Channel buyers
  • the ability to reach out through social media

If you’re ready to learn more about the technology, processes, and strategy involved in building a great digital self-service experience, contact us.

Ayman El Dah is a Senior Director, Delivery at SMITH.

Tags: B2b, ecommerce, Strategy and Intelligence