Janice B Gordon Multichannel B2B Relationships

72% of consumers say they would prefer to connect with brands and businesses across multiple channels.  Companies must take a step outside the traditional sales and marketing funnels towards an integrated approach. Capturing interest and conducting conversations on multiple channels that sales reps can further engage and accelerate the relationship forward.

It is essential to recognise the evolving technology and the resulting impact on buyers and customer behaviour. Organisations often fall into the technology trap looking for the latest shiny new thing to solve a problem, while underutilising existing technology and ignoring the basic customer-centric business strategies.

A company I spoke to following a keynote presentation enquiring about sales technology, listing these sales scenarios below as a reason for their underperformance:

  • Relationships are Binary: the buyer and the sales rep have worked together for years and have developed a trusted relationship when the buyer is promoted and moves out of the region or to another company then the buying chain breaks down.
  • Relationships are geographical: the sales rep sales across a division or business unit, then this multi-level relationship falters when a divisional leader joins and brings in their own relationship partners, or the whole division is out-sourced off-shore.

These scenarios are not a technology issue; however, they are a relationship issue. Customer relationships and their business plans are likely to change. Many of these scenarios are predictable when suppliers have a close working relationship with their customers.  The problem is the supplier is not invested in their customer deeply enough to see the writing on the wall. Technology has changed buyer behaviour:

  • “57% of the purchase decision is complete before a customer even calls a supplier.” (CEB)
  • “67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally.” (SiriusDecisions)

Considerably quoted statistics explain what has changed in buyers’ journey and relationship. B2B customers are relying more on online information and interactions.

However, this does not mean that:

  • Sellers should not have conversations early in the buying journey.
  • Sales reps do not have an opportunity to influence the outcome of the online search for information and answers.
  • Face to face relationships building and people 2 people conversations are dead!

In fact, in a digital world real people, face-time is valued and appreciated more not less!

Multichannel adoption will vary by industry and market and transaction value; it is essential to recognise that buyers gain experience and set expectations from their personal experience in the B2C online space and expect no less in the B2B digital arena.

The evidence is compelling…

“Businesses using 4 or more digital channels will outperform those using single or dual channels by 300%.”

Buyers using the online channel to get information and answers to current questions, depending on the problem and answers this can indicate an opportunity to have a conversation and influence the outcome of the search. Multichannel sales and marketing are essential for the simple reason that you must be where your customers are, whatever channel (device, medium, or network) this may be off or online.

Cumulative data compiled from The Enterprise Guide to Global E-commerce anticipates a 246.15% increase in worldwide e-commerce sales, from $1.3 trillion in 2014 to $4.5 trillion in 2021. Almost a threefold lift in online revenue. In 2017, B2C e-commerce sales hit $2.3 trillion worldwide, while B2B e-commerce reaches $7.7 trillion. B2B is 234.78% in market size of B2C.

The power of digital in the B2B world will not diminish, however, the importance of people 2 people conversations to influence and direct will also increase. The people interactions must bridge the distance created in the virtual space. The evidence is compelling:

Multichannel customers generate higher value than an offline-only customer. The multiple channel customer can experience higher customer satisfaction and higher retention and most importantly higher spend across all the channels giving higher lifetime values.

The supplier that can offer their customers a satisfactory multichannel customer experience demonstrates their ability to transition and keep pace with their customer preferences.

Multichannel customers spend 3-4 times more than single-channel customers.  74% of businesses increased sales with a multichannel strategy, while 64% increased consumer loyalty/acquisition

Boosting social and connecting on and offline across multiple channels creates a competitive advantage for B2B suppliers.

11 Reason to develop an integrated relationship building strategy:

  1. To not just increase sales directly but to increase the purchasing value both online and offline.
  2. Customers buy into the integrated relationship, and the best fit organisations can build partnership this creates competitive advantage win-win.
  3. To deliver excellent customer experience and service, connecting on and offline approach.
  4. Online allows a supplier to cast the net wider with more in-depth research to generate engagement and attract attention.
  5. Online analytics can track and measure opportunities for sales reps to engage offline with open rates, hotspots and click through analysis.
  6. Onboarding new relationship is easier with a connected multichannel strategy monitoring customer engagement and preferences.
  7. Monitoring across the channels establishes the level of interaction and engagement and connectedness. The measure of connectedness is an indication or sustainable increasing revenues.
  8. Able to measure and distil relevant information with cross-referencing multichannel interaction that supports direct feedback to improve the multichannel buyer experience.
  9. Sales reps must be integral to the multichannel integrated strategy to follow-up in person at critical points in the buyer’s journey.
  10. Social interaction builds awareness and engagements moving the buyer through h the process, buyers are human, and nothing beats human interaction to develop the relationship.
  11. A dashboard allows you to see any given customer their level of connectedness visually.

The advantage of the multichannel relationship building strategy. The degree of connectedness ranges from being offline only to highly connected customers across channels, demonstrating high-value online behaviours and connectedness. The degree of connectedness allows you to see the actual value of the relationship of any group of customers and judge the potential to increase connectivity and revenues.

The Scale Your Sales approach is to help sales leaders build a strategy to an integrated relationship with your most valued customers. The focus is not just to grow offline and online sales but to grow connected relationships total share of wallet. That comes by engaging, educating and elevating the relationship in whatever way your buyer prefers to engage and ultimately purchase. Sales reps are an essential stream in the multichannel that must be an integral part of the whole relationship building integrated strategy.

Suppliers that can integrate the off and online relationship will not only connect the dot of the relationship but connect the results. The most efficient Integrated Relationship Building Strategy will reap accelerated growth and cost savings. Scale Your Sales ensures your sales reps drive home the result of the integrating your B2B relationship across channels.

Building B2B relationships across multiple channels in the inter-connected global economy is an essential future-proof business growth strategy

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