B2B buyers are no longer conditioned to wait
What has changed? Faster beats better or cheaper. The expectations buyers gain from their personal experience of B2C purchases on a platform like Amazon and eBay, inform their B2B purchasing expectations. No longer are B2B buyers willing to wait days for a response to an enquiry.
I ordered a banner out of 9-5 hours and the first company online platform could not resolve an issue out of hours, so I went to another supplier, and although more expensive, I was able to complete the order online without the need for human engagement and unnecessary delay.
I had the honour to listen, James Taylor, International Keynote Speaker on Business Creativity, Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Innovation. James expertly demonstrated how he uses AI to move the conversations on to qualify his buyers and resolve their issues that static lead capture enquiry methods could not handle.
Times have changed
Regardless of your current perception of artificial intelligence (AI) augmented reality (AR), there’s no denying that the technology is here to stay. AR investments are projected to reach $60 billion by 2020.
By the close of 2017, B2C e-commerce sales hit $2.3 trillion worldwide, whereas B2B e-commerce reached $7.7 trillion, a 234.78% difference in market size. Cumulative data compiled within The Enterprise Guide to Global E-commerce anticipates a 246.15% (threefold) increase in worldwide e-commerce (online) sales by 2021.
What’s driving this impressive growth?
- The appeal of cost savings for sellers and convenience for buyers, says Forrester Research B2B eCommerce Forecast, 2015 To 2020.
- The reality is, According to Sales Benchmark Index, 70% of your customers do not want a face to face meeting. Key decision makers are adept at doing business remotely.
- AI and AR are a great way to save time while delivering a richer immersive, personalised experience. For your buyers, AR provides the opportunity to easily share information and the immersive experience within the decision-making group.
- For savvy B2B sellers, AI and AR can be that true differentiator. AI and AR can free-up an already stretched sales rep, who can give analytically informed personalised service experience at the right time for their buyer.
- Now that more than half of buyers use the buying experience to determine their purchasing decisions, B2B businesses must seek out unique capabilities that differentiate them from competitors beyond products, and this is in your people and your technologies.
To compete in today’s digital world, B2B sales leaders need digital tools. Buyers have so many options available and digital solutions like AR offer visual, interactive and immersive experiences that lead to a deeper level of understanding and engagement that customers develop in your solution. Salespeople already have a lot on their plates successfully meeting revenue targets, building relationships and secure essential opportunities. Now added to that list: modern buyers expect and respond best to fast modern and immersive sales experience.
At first, getting rid of lead capture forms and replacing them with messaging and chatbots may seem crazy, however … As Gartner analysts, Benjamin Bloom and Mike McGuire noted in a recent press release
“Conversational marketing will be a recognised channel of B2B and B2C customer engagement and revenue by 2020, displacing a combination of marketing, sales and service activities.”
The good news is you don’t have to do it on your own. You can partner with best-in-class AI, AR sales enablement developers and providers and benefit from their investments and expertise. Just as you provide the best-in-class solutions for your most valued customers, there are companies developing solutions to your AI and AR needs.
The B2B commerce environment is changing the requirements of a typical sales rep to demonstrate and sell. AR dramatically improves how companies can demo products and allows potential buyers to understand better how each option would fit into and influence their organisation. AR solutions ensure prospects can explore complex, large or spatially oriented B2B products by-passing the need for salespeople to deliver product demonstrates. The buying experience is now a shared experience.
The better the seller is able to immerse the buyer and the decision-makers in a test drive experience of the solution, the lower the risk for the decision-making unit.
- The ability of the buyer to view demonstrations of products in real time, anywhere, creates numerous opportunities to package products and personalised to the customer requirements.
- The packaging of bespoke solutions to solve a specific problem leads to cross-sell and upsell opportunities, which the sales rep would otherwise struggle to sell individually.
- The benefit of projecting virtual products helps decision-makers experience real-time the solution in the working environment.
Customers that experience AR remains engaged throughout the entire sales process, it is still relatively new, and AR you can create highly personalised buyer experiences. Victor Antonio is the co-author of Sales Ex Machina: How Artificial Intelligence is Changing the World of Selling, backs this up with five specific areas where AI algorithms can help your salespeople sell more:
- Price Optimization
- Lead Scoring
- Upsell and Cross-selling
- Forecasting and
- Managing performance
Supported by the best analytical data that AI can easier provide, AR has the additional benefit of helping B2B companies adopt visual selling strategies to sell the evidence-based solutions.
AI and AR make engagement more targeted on buyers and decision-makers that have indicated interest triggering a cost-effective digital response, a clear benefit within the sales function supporting sales reps and the whole sales business.
The technical hurdles of onboarding AI and AR are not as complicated as they once were, as companies do not have to build custom solutions.
AI and AR will certainly not replace sales reps. It will enable sellers to nurture interested prospective and re-engage past buyers, to present better-informed offers with specific solutions that the customer has test-driven; the sale rep can focus on answering questions and discussing options rather than selling the concept.
AI and AR accelerate the sales cycle, to engage and communicate the relevant product benefits and values early, helping to educate buyers and share the experience with the decision-making unit gaining internal consensus faster. In addition to leaving a lasting, positive impression with the buyer and creating excitement within the group to test drive the solution and de-risk the decision. The more innovative the buying experience, the more memorable, the easier it is to engage the buyers you want.
I am certainly looking to apply more AI to my sales process, isn’t it time you came onboard to AI and AR?
If you would like to find out more contact Scale Your Sales to arrange a consultation.
I would also recommend reading 5 Ways AI Will Enhance the Modern Sales Professional