The B2B sales process is undergoing a transformation. Here’s what you need to know to successfully sell B2B today.
By Rieva Lesonsky
Are your B2B business’s revenues falling short? Perhaps it’s your sales process? Is it keeping pace with today’s B2B buyer? Here are six new rules of B2B sales you need to understand.
1—A new generation of B2B buyers is in charge
Millennials are taking over the B2B buyer role. Nearly half (45%) of B2B technology buyers are between 25 and 34 years old. By comparison, just 30% are aged 35 to 44. Millennials have grown up with technology and they conduct the B2B buying process differently than older generations. They expect to purchase B2B products and services the way they shop for anything else: by going online, doing research and getting input from their peers.
2—The B2B buying process is getting more complicated
More than six in 10 companies surveyed by Demand Gen Report say their purchasing process has gotten longer. Some 45% of B2B buyers say they’re using more sources to gather information and spending more time researching purchases before they pull the trigger. In addition, there are more cooks in the kitchen—nearly 80% of buyers say up to six people are involved in the buying decision.
3—The B2B buying process is moving online
By 2020 55% of B2B buyers will research half or more of their business purchases online, Forrester predicts. More and more, buyers are gathering their own information before they ever reach out to your business to speak to a sales rep or ask for a quote. This makes your online presence more important than ever before.
If you’re not selling your products online yet, what are you waiting for? Alibaba.com is offering a new program that allows U.S. small and midsized businesses to sell on its global e-commerce marketplace. Use Alibaba.com’s proven tools to start selling to B2B buyers across the country or across the world. It’s a great way to get started in online B2B sales fast, without having to build your own website from scratch.
Buyer research usually starts with a general online search, according to Harvard Business Review. That means it’s vitally important to use the right keywords to attract those searchers to your business website or e-commerce sales channels. You also need to create content that uses your keywords and answers buyers’ questions about your products. That could mean spec sheets, comparison charts, blog posts, detailed product descriptions and pricing information. Alibaba.com makes it easy to set up an online storefront (no coding needed), upload your entire product catalog, and add photos, videos, certifications and more to highlight your key selling points. You can also use Alibaba.com’s digital advertising tools to attract even more buyers to your listings.
4—B2B buyers rely on others’ opinions
B2B buyers talk to others in their industry to get opinions on your business and your products. They also go online to look for peer reviews and recommendations. Over half of the buyers in Demand Gen Report’s survey say they are using social media as a buying research tool more than they used to, and 65% say they use online rating and review sites more than in the past. Make sure your business has a strong social media presence and encourage your satisfied customers to write reviews or recommend your business on LinkedIn.
5—Speed is of the essence
B2B sales may be taking longer than ever, but you still need to respond quickly to prospects’ inquiries. Demand Gen Report found that timely responses are key to purchasing for two-thirds of B2B buyers. Alibaba.com’s all-in-one client management system includes built-in CRM to keep track of leads and reach out to customers, plus a message center with real-time translation for instant responsiveness. All of this can help you communicate with prospects, track those interactions and manage your customers better.
6—B2B buyers want convenience
Just like B2C customers, B2B buyers want ease when it comes to purchasing. “The organizations that will succeed going forward will be those that materially simplify the purchase process for customers,” says Gartner, which calls the new way of B2B selling “buyer enablement.” Essentially, that means providing the information buyers need to make a decision, then making the purchase itself as easy as possible.
Alibaba.com provides a wide range of built-in tools to simplify sales for both B2B buyers and sellers. For example, you can respond to RFQs, set flexible pricing and negotiate directly with customers on quantities, pricing, and shipment. The site also calculates shipping rates, taxes and fees; converts prices into international currency; and lets you accept payments on platform.
Are you ready to start following the new rules of B2B sales? During “Super September,” Alibaba.com is offering a special deal to new B2B sellers who join the platform. You’ll get a discount on membership fees, plus free product showcases and ad credits to help increase their web traffic and sales. Bonus: If you mention this article, you’ll get up to $500 in online advertising credits to spend on promoting your products.
For more on Super September, Click here.
In partnership with Alibaba