Sometimes marketing gets a bad rap in business-to-business sales since vendor selection is often more dependent on relationships. But, Covid-19 has turned the high-touch approach on its head – The opportunity for face-to-face meetings has declined substantially. We know Covid-19 has caused a dramatic increase in online consumer retail sales, but what does the shift to digital commerce mean for business-to-business (B2B) providers who can’t necessarily sell online?
The answer is to provide an experience that gives the impression of eCommerce up until the point of transaction. This involves bolstering your website with a few new tools and providing resources that empower the customer. In a nutshell, providing a personalized digital experience in absence of real face-time.
Here are a few examples to help digitize the business-to-business marketing process so that when a customer calls they’re ready to buy.
Aside from knowing features and benefits, customers want help understanding what’s important. This means providing access to research and knowledge about your industry. This does not mean things like brochures and case studies, but rather creating data-driven resources. These could be industry guides, how-to seminars, and independent comparison tests. Content that showcases industry expertise and educates people can be used in exchange for getting an email address for future follow-up.
The easiest thing to do that mimics an eCommerce experience is to provide pricing information for your products/services. Many B2B companies are hesitant to list pricing because of competitive worries or their offerings are too complex to give a general price. However, customers much prefer an *idea* of how much something will cost as opposed to knowing nothing. Save them the step of calling with a vague request or wasting your team’s time with prospects that don’t have the budget.
You can take pricing information to the next level by incorporating product/service configuration applications. There are a multitude of software tools available for creating product configurators, but if you want to start simple then consider a basic online calculator or online survey tool. The point is to allow customers an interactive way to set some parameters and choose options that will give them an estimated price or cost range. Have a call-to-action to submit their results for a formal estimate or consult.
Online Chat Tools
Website visitors seek quick answers, but want to put in minimal effort. Providing an online chat tool allows an easy, low-commitment way of communicating that otherwise may not happen. Thankfully, the availability of online chat tools and chat bots for websites has exploded in that past few years. The technology has finally reached a point where installing these tools is affordable and answer automation is possible for basic inquiries.
Online Appointment Booking
For whatever reasons customer service levels have seemed to drop in the past few years. We have become accustom to accepting “satisfactory” customer service that usually requires a few calls or emails to schedule a meeting. However, implementing online appointment booking so that website visitors can schedule a conversation for a specific time on their schedule is the new way forward. No more phone-tag or replies within two business days – Give website visitors the choice of when to meet and exceed their expectations for customer service.