One of the most common challenges faced by any business now is the reduced ability to get products and services in front of customers. Many tried and trusted business models that predate the COVID-19 pandemic, have left many B2B businesses woefully unprepared for the new normal. This new normal is a world of remote working and remote selling, where businesses are struggling to adapt and achieve business continuity.
Within the B2B sales environment, the ability to meet face-to-face with potential customers to discuss their requirements is now a redundant business practice. So how then do you get relevant solutions in front of a customer in a way that’s less impersonal than an email or website yet more effective and productive than a phone call? In other words, how do you break through the COVID-19 sales wall?
It’s likely to be the modus operandi for a long time to come.
What is becoming patently clear is that the ability to reach and sell to existing and potential customers online is neither a short-term requirement nor a nice to have. It’s likely to be the modus operandi for a long time to come. Yet even these very basics of B2B ecommerce may not be effective enough.
What’s still required in the sales process is a bridge between the traditional practice of in-person meetings with online engagement and transactional platforms. This is because sales teams may still want to walk customers through a potential solution in an immersive selling environment. The need for this becomes heightened in that businesses can no longer rely on ongoing projects for revenue but must also secure new business. Engaging new customers through an immersive sales process is infinitely more powerful.
How then do you create an immersive selling environment?
The answer in short is B2B business model reinvention. The longer answer involves a series of steps:
STEP 1: Create package solutions that can help your customers operate in the new normal
Work-from-home (WFH) practices are likely to be with us for some time. Even long after social distancing is no longer required, more flexible working practices may become ingrained. We assume that most end-customers have embraced online tools that facilitate WFH situations with relative ease. We also incorrectly assume that the most important tools for WFH situations are online engagement and collaboration tools. There are definitely more. Small and medium sized businesses also need:
- Tools to automate internal processes
- Tools for product / service exposure
- Tools to sell online
- Tools for sales automation
- Management oversight tools
- Tools for online security
ICT Resellers need to package solutions that assist SMEs with all of the above if they’re to continue operating and generate new business.
…resellers need to stimulate demand for their package solutions.
STEP 2: Use digital channels to generate product exposure
Once these package solutions have been created or identified, ICT Resellers need to generate mass awareness. Often customers may not be aware of what tools they may need to ensure business continuity, therefore resellers need to stimulate demand for their package solutions.
Under the current circumstances, all customers are online. The most effective channels are therefore social platforms, particularly Facebook and LinkedIn. Resellers also need to consider Google AdWords, which contrary to popular belief remains an effective way to generate B2B sales.
At this point in time, online customer marketplaces may be the only route to market…
STEP 3: Find / build an online customer marketplace for your product or service
Not every business has the expertise, means or luxury of time to develop and own a customer platform or marketplace. Some will find that leveraging existing platforms is simpler and more cost effective as they access new ecosystems or become enablers or providers of new services, products or customer experiences.
Online customer marketplaces deliver compelling customer experiences, encourage digital innovation and create significant value. It’s for this reason that they’re disruptive and dominant market forces, creating communities of enormous scale. At this point in time, online customer marketplaces may be the only route to market for an ICT reseller’s products and services. Because they offer scale and aren’t confined by geography, online marketplaces allow you to reach customers beyond your traditional footprint that may be in desperate need of your product or service.
…(customers) should be able to engage digitally with a product expert.
STEP 4: Engage existing and new customers through an immersive online selling environment
Once your customer is in your online marketplace, are you able to engage with them as they navigate their way through potential products and services?
Your sales teams should have the ability to meet their customers online to guide them and assist in the decision-making process. It’s not enough that customers can transact digitally, they should be able to engage digitally with a product expert. Customer marketplaces that allow for chat and video engagement with sales teams are far more successful in shortening the sales cycle and generating guaranteed sales. This level or personalised service humanises the sales engagement for new customers and ensures a familiar and trusted face is present for existing customers.
ChannelCenter’s fully digitised customer platform is uniquely positioned to help ICT resellers and customers engage and transact. It’s the optimal solution to breaking down the COVID-19 sales wall.