On balance, B2Bs have more daily headaches than their colleagues in B2C. And that’s especially true of firms with sales teams, judging by a survey of 406 B2B firms in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Germany and the Netherlands by Forrester for FPX.
Of the marketers polled, 66% say that it’s at least somewhat difficult to provide a consistent, high-quality experience in direct channels. And 16% say it’s very tough. Here are the challenges:
Things are even worse on the indirect side, where sales are conducted through partners. Of the marketers surveyed, 77% say it’s at least somewhat difficult delivering a high-quality experience via indirect sales channels. The reasons:
At the same time, most say it’s hard to sell complete solutions needed by the end customer — 62% for direct, 70% for indirect.
The answer to these dilemmas, of course, is an email platform capable of sending triggered messages to both customers and partners. It’s not easy integrating that with siloed and outdated systems, but figure it out: if partners don’t have access to information, here’s one way of getting it to them.
Granted, the study doesn’t delve into the email option, and FPX executives were unavailable to discuss it: Maybe they don’t think it plays a role.
But the study does conclude that B2B firms need to invest in configure-price-quote (CPQ) technology —that is, “a united platform that interfaces with your existing sales, CRM, and ERP technologies; provides guidance for product and pricing recommendations; and is exposed to all of your sales channels to deliver a consistent, high-quality experience,” the study states. Clearly, such a system would feature an integrated email capability backed by strong data analytics.
But back to the findings. The study shows that 35% of all sales now come through ecommerce, a figure that the respondents would like to get up to 55%, both on the direct and indirect sides
For their part, customers want that consistent, high-quality experience —68% say that it’s very important, and 24% that it’s somewhat so. (You have to wonder about the 2% who say it’s not important). Here’s what they want:
Given all this, do B2B marketers even need sales teams and the commission plans that go with them? You bet they do, and here’s why: “While there is a desire to expand ecommerce capabilities to deliver a better experience to customers, it would be a mistake for B2B firms to place all their eggs in the ecommerce basket,” the paper states. “Self-service channels are only expected to replace about half of sales in an ideal world, which means the other half must be delivered through consistent, high-quality direct and indirect channel sales.”
Better get your omnichannel house in order.