GUEST: Chloe Thomas, founder of eCommerce MasterPlan
In a new era of B2B buyers shifting towards eCommerce and online buying trends, we ask the question, “How can sales professionals and retailers be competitive?”
The Online Shift
According to Chloe, consumer buying behaviors are exactly what’s causing a shift to eCommerce in the B2B world. “Once Amazon jumps into something you know you gotta start paying attention to it,” Choe said.
Because B2B buyers are living B2C lives, they are growing to expect an online experience that they’d get as a consumer – which has caused businesses to race for an online presence. This can be problematic if eCommerce isn’t aligned properly with existing channels. “If you just throw it up, you’re going to cause problems because it won’t be integrated into your systems,” Chloe said. “The sales team...have got to be brought in to the online opportunity, or it’s never going to work.”
New website and eCommerce technologies have made it easier than ever to integrate with existing channels, but can also serve as a distraction. “I think it’s easy to get sucked into a complex piece of tech to solve a problem...that could have just been updated with text on your website,” Chloe said.
Are salespeople too reliant on new technologies nowadays? Maybe, but using technology as a crux can certainly limit human-to-human interactions. “The sales teams remain hugely important, even in the online world,” Chloe said. “In the B2B space, huge amounts of it is still about that personal relationship and that reassurance and that guidance through the process.”
The Self-Service Aspect
As eCommerce gives buyers more control over the purchasing process, they are becoming less reliant on sales and marketing professionals. “You have to see it as a benefit,” Chloe said. “It means that you now are able to let the customer get on with the normal stuff and then give them the value-add.”
This means that rather than dealing with menial tasks about getting an order, salespeople can focus more on providing additional value, recruiting new customers and optimizing the customer’s experience and ROI for the sale.
“You have to identify the benefits. Yes, you could be doing less of what you do now, but that’s good because you could do more of the things that generate more money,” Chloe said.
The Most Common Challenge
“What should I be doing?”
It’s the number one question that Chloe is asked by businesses wanting to improve their eCommerce experience. “There’s so many options these days, the most challenging problem is working out what to do to generate the sales,” Chloe said.
“The most successful businesses I see in the B2B space, and in the B2C space, are those who have identified the marketing method, or two methods, that work well for them and just doubled down and optimized and squeezed every last cent and order out of that that they can.”
What is Most Effective When Someone is Trying to Sell You?
We like to ask our podcast guests this question. Here’s how Chloe answered:
“I am very much an introvert, so I hate phone calls with a passion. And I like people to give me details and be fast. So those intriguing emails that some people send that are like, “Hey Chloe, I’ve got something really interesting that will completely change your world.” Just spam. If you send me an email which proves you’ve done a little bit of research and which shows that this might be of relevance to me...tell me what you do...tell me how you think it might help me...then I will almost certainly get back to you.”
In every episode of the B2B Revenue Executive Experience, we try to pull one nugget of wisdom from our guests that they would impart on a sales professional. Here’s this one:
“Color-coding your diary and ring fencing time. You’ve got that balancing act between fresh leads, hot prospects, contracts...those different levels...and all are equally important. If you can create some zoning in your diary...if you color-code, you can avoid the day running away with itself and you can make sure those all-important tasks...still get done.”
If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.