Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent social distancing measures, traditional face-to-face sales have come to a temporary halt. B2B buyers and sellers alike are now forced to use digital routes instead.
B2B Buyers and Sellers Prefer the New Digital Reality
What was originally a crisis response has now become the new normal, with many B2B decision-makers praising the effectiveness and convenience of digital sales. In fact, a McKinsey survey found that 70-80% of B2B decision-makers prefer remote digital interactions or self-service. Additionally, B2B decision-makers globally have reported that online and remote selling is as effective as in-person engagement—or even more so.
Furthermore, B2B buyers who were originally hesitant to make big purchases online have become used to the idea. In fact, according to McKinsey, 70% of B2B decision-makers are now “open to making new, fully self-serve or remote purchases in excess of $50,000, and 27% would spend more than $500,000.” Before the pandemic, the prevailing wisdom was that e-commerce was mainly for smaller-ticket items—but this has clearly changed.
B2B sellers praise the effectiveness of digital sales, and B2B buyers love the convenience of digital self-service routes. As a result, the general consensus is that digital sales are here to stay, even after the pandemic is over. In fact, only about 20% of B2B buyers say they hope to return to in-person sales, even in sectors where field-sales models have traditionally dominated (such as pharma and medical products).
The Challenges of Digital Sales for B2B Sellers
While digital selling is exceptional when it works as it should, it’s incredibly frustrating for buyers when it doesn’t. For B2B sellers, building seamless digital buying experiences remains a challenge. 45% of US customers still find B2B buying online more complicated than buying offline.
In fact, many companies still lag behind in the digital transformation. Because the transition into digital sales was so abrupt, companies have struggled to make the switch. Digital sales
encompass a myriad of skills, tools, and processes that many companies didn’t already possess.
Only a third of buyers indicate that most of their existing vendors are well-prepared to support them in a virtual environment. Additionally, almost 80% of buyers have abandoned purchases because of poor website navigation, irrelevant search results, or unclear product information.
The pressure is on for these companies to catch up. In today’s world, buyers can easily switch suppliers to one that has already optimized their digital experience.
Optimizing Digital Sales is Essential
The rise of digital sales is raising customer expectations at a breakneck pace. 76% of customers now report that it’s easier than ever to take their business elsewhere, switching from vendor to vendor until they find an online experience that matches their expectations.
If a buyer has a less-than-pleasant experience on a seller’s website, they can easily switch vendors. In fact, 57% of customers have stopped buying from a company because a competitor provided a better digital experience.
Additionally, the demand for a seamless digital sales experience is so strong that 56% of B2B customers say they would “pay more for a better experience.”
In all, it’s clear that B2B buyers are increasingly demanding effective digital sales routes—and they will switch vendors and pay increasing prices until they find the experience they’re looking for. Therefore it is vital that B2B sellers optimize their digital sales routes and focus on their buyers’ digital experience. Companies that lag on the digital transformation risk losing existing customers and will struggle to find new ones.