Digitize to grow your B2B business
Cater to the needs of a new B2B-generation
Digital progress has not been the privilege of consumer markets these last few years. Where the trend was slow to take ground in the Business-to-Business industry, digitization now has become crucial to stay ahead of the competition. For decades, success in the B2B market was determined by excellent provider-client relations: personal contacts levered the closing of sales agreements and generated customer loyalty. These days are over. Due to the 2019 pandemic, an omnichannel approach rapidly became the standard in B2B sales. Though personal meetings remain important, today's business customers expect you to also interact through social media, chat, email and telephone.
This evolution is radically changing the way sales are done. More than ever, sales people need to be digitally literate and knowledge-driven, with product expertise driving the sales experience. This requires a sales team with specific skills or complementary profiles. It also requires a new sort of training, both in terms of product knowledge as in handling digital media. Courses should focus on the necessary skills to gain the trust of a prospect via chat, for example, on how to healthily balance physical and online contact in today's Always On world. Or on how to integrate all channels into your sales strategy without overstepping boundaries and entering the domain of your partners.
Companies offering solutions instead of selling products or services will be the winners of tomorrow's sales race. This also requires a heavy investment in training tailored to their employees and their customers.
B2B customers expect to obtain more autonomy via self-service platforms and user-friendly digital portals. But that does not imply that sales people are on the verge of becoming extinct, on the contrary. With automation freeing up time and energy, sales people can now fully focus on developing and maintaining valuable relationships with their customers. Thus catering to the needs of a new generation of customers expecting the right products, service bundles or ecosystems in every phase of their customer journey. B2B is much more intensive today than it used to be. Players who master the new channels and forms of communication will leave their competitors far behind.
Timing is everything
Digitization has revolutionized the traditional sales process. In the past, sales reps or sales managers worked with leads, trying to get on-site appointments with the prospect or meeting them at events (1). Subsequently, product managers or experts provided in-depth information on the offer (2) after which the deal was closed by a commercial or financial profile (3).
Today, many contacts have been digitized. More and more the very first contact a sales person has with prospects will happen in the second phase of their customer journey. This means that salespeople need to be well-versed in product knowledge, or need to be assisted by an expert. Anyone who succeeds in convincing a B2B prospect with their expertise in this second phase has a much greater chance of eventually closing the deal – be it online or live.
This is how you get B2B customers by your side:
Start from knowledge-driven marketing and communication
Today, the first contact with prospects does not always happen live. Lead Generation relies more and more on digital visibility and good online content. Trigger or convince your prospects with white papers, campaigns or editorial articles that convey indepth information and expertise. Focus less on 'advertising', but offer specialized content clearly highlighting relevance to the target audience.
Prospects are more likely to accept companies and brands which are perceived as market leaders or which are otherwise visible. So it is vital you are always present, across all channels and (online) media. Do not limit yourself to paid media: Public Relations is indispensable for B2B. Through regular and favorable press coverage, you ensure that you radiate authority and lower the threshold.
Create attractive ecosystems
Successful B2B players will get more out of their channels by aligning them, both visually and substantively. A seamlessly functioning digital ecosystem tailored to their customers and partners will encourage interaction and demand, and prevents customers switching shops.
The B2B-customer wants… what the B2C-customer wants.
The digital sales trend has made its way from B2C-markets to B2B-industries. Business clients expect to reach you any time of the day, through their favorite channels. Sure, with online interaction you miss out on the chemistry of a live interaction. But let's be honest: many products or services no longer require a time-consuming wooing phase. They are just as easily purchased through an online platform.
Even for high volumes, B2B customers increasingly prefer digital channels. So, develop these digital channels and tools with both small as big ticket sales in mind. And focus not only to the transaction, but on the total digital customer journey. Guide or nudge your customer through every phase: from exploration to interaction and purchase to after-sales service and facilitation of new orders.
How does iO work?
The expectations of your B2B customers change quickly. As your transformation and communication partner, we make sure that you stay ahead of your competition - today and tomorrow. We gladly offer you the expertise we've gained working for big B2B players in diverse industries.
Together with your team, we determine the priorities and find new opportunities. Supporting you throughout the whole process, from marketing and strategy to developing digital ecosystems and creating digital content. More than developing online 'selling' platforms or campaigns for you, we will help you to gain impact. Offering your B2B target group quality over quantity and solution-oriented long term communication over one-shots.
You can also count on us for monitoring and adjusting your processes or digital tools. This is how you let your B2B grow and prosper, year after year.
Let's partner up
Ask us anything. Our experts are happy to advise you on how to grow your business digitally.
4 pillars on which every B2B-player can build.
1. Sell more through knowledge and insights
Feed your sales teams with insights and arguments that make their efforts even more profitable. Have them infuse their historical and anecdotal knowledge about customers and prospects, and it's a done deal.
2. Get to know your customer, 360°-style
Collect as much qualitative data as possible about the profile and behavior of your customers. Share these with both your sales teams and customer support to help them up their game. Really knowing your customers and prospects also allows you to tailor your e-sales environment and digital functions-as-services to them.
3. Create partnerships
The right partners will help you to optimally unburden your customers by, for example, automating order processing. Sales people can spend more time on personal service.
4. Streamline the internal transformation
Digital transformation also means transforming and integrating internal processes. Ensure everyone in your organisation is on the same page when it comes down to meeting customer expectations. This often requires an update of the corporate culture and and a more intense collaboration, within and across teams.
- In the past, B2B was too often seen as B2C’s little brother, but nothing could be further from the truth. As is the case for every marketing field, B2B has gone through quite the evolution. But what does that evolution look like? And does that evolution require a different marketing strategy? In this webinar, we’ll show you what B2B looks like today and how you can distinguish your brand from the competition with your marketing strategy.
All about inbound marketing with HubSpotWhich types of marketing are sure to serve your organisation well, instead of only making things harder? If you are consciously aiming for quality B2B leads, then inbound marketing makes up the proper course. In fact, this goes for digital marketing in general: approximately 90% of all B2B research is conducted via digital, online sources.
3 steps to build a successful B2B inbound marketing strategyShouldn’t the client be at the heart of every marketing campaign? When it comes to good inbound marketing, the same is clearly true for B2B marketing. Inbound marketing is an effective way to gather everything you need to build a successful campaign: the right, qualitative leads - collected in a way that does not disturb the user experience, using data that’s willingly shared. It’s a fitting approach, not only for acquiring new customers, but for turning them into enthusiastic brand ambassadors in the process.
Strengthening your B2B brand in 2022In the past, B2B was regarded as the smaller, less interesting brother of B2C. Now we know better. Today we'll show you how you can make a difference as a contemporary B2B brand and get the edge on your competitors.
Social media and B2B communications: the perfect marriageWe know that social media has greater influence when used for B2B than to B2C communication. Your target audience is more contained, easier to define and you know your network much better, and can therefore make meaningful contacts easily.
Does video have a place in your B2B content strategy?Is your content strategy already harnessing the power of video? Video is everywhere. Every month, 1.7 billion unique visitors watch at least one video on YouTube, and visual social media such as Instagram and TikTok are extremely popular. B2B is not immune to this. With the rise of video can we expect to see the decline of the copywriter and the arrival of the video content creator? It's not so black and white, thankfully. But, as marketers say, as a company it’s always better to respond to trends so you don’t get left behind. And video has long ceased to be a 'throwaway' trend. How can you integrate video into your content strategy? And what are the benefits?
Sell smarter with B2B buyer personasBuyer personas are a great way to understand your prospects' goals and desires. Creating buyer personas is not an end in itself, it's a means to sell smarter, using arguments that are more effective for different target groups. In this blog we explain how to successfully approach this by focusing on the emotions that play a role in buyer’s decision making processes.
B2B e-commerce is still in its early stages in EuropeB2B e-commerce in Europe is in its infancy when compared to online sales on other continents, such as Asia and America. Hans Maltha, CCO of iO, believes we have a lot of catching up to do. He provides the necessary tips and tricks for a B2B organisation to be prepared and to make rapid progress.