How the B2B Sales Process is Moving Online

Fiona O'Donnell-McCarthy
July 22, 2015

As online commerce becomes de rigueur for many wholesale brands and B2B businesses, new and better ways of interacting with customers are emerging. Not only are wholesalers empowering retailers to place orders online 24/7, they are also finding ways to extend the collaborative nature of the B2B sales process to digital environments. In a recent article on Internet Retailer,

Paul Demery talks about how B2B companies are using “online deal rooms” to make more sales. According to a study conducted by the Aberdeen Group, these online sales enablement portals have helped companies distribute more sales proposals, gain higher customer renewal rates, and enable more sales reps to meet quota. The bottom line is that a B2B order is a conversation. In wholesale distribution in particular, we’ve found that what ultimately ships out from the warehouse is often different from what was initially ordered, because these kinds of sales conversations are constantly evolving. By facilitating these discussions in the B2B eCommerce environment, the effect is two-fold––the convenience of online ordering combined with the flexibility and complexity of the B2B sales process. Let’s take a look at how B2B eCommerce and integrated sales order management platforms are enabling these digital dialogs.

How the B2B Sales Process is Moving Online

1. A Digital Record Say a company is writing wholesale orders on a paper order form. The conversation may very well end there. That slip of paper is a snapshot in time; it’s unchangeable. Digital orders, however, can evolve and change. They are living documents that buyers and sales reps can collaborate on. Once that order is shipped out, it doesn’t disappear. It simply becomes part of the conversation for the next order. 2. “Interactive Quotes” “Interactive quotes” allow sales reps to write a suggested order (based off of customer order history, sales performance data, etc.) and send it to their customer. The customer can then look over the order online and make changes. Through this process, sales reps can create curated lists of products for each customer and generate more orders while also providing customers with a highly personalized, collaborative experience. 3. Order Notes Giving buyers the ability to record notes under each item that they’re ordering online gives them the ability to ask questions about availability, ship dates, product specifications, etc. 4. Seller Review Seller review allows sales reps to review and confirm incoming online orders before sending them out for fulfillment. This opens up the opportunity for sales reps to reach out, answer any questions customers might have, open up upsell opportunities, or provide strategic advice to the buyer. 5. Email Integration Email integration allows for email notifications when an order is placed, changed, or confirmed. It keeps the conversation flowing while also providing a digital record of that order’s evolution over time.

Concluding Thoughts

Companies have found new ways to leverage eCommerce to bring the collaborative in-person B2B sales process online. In between face-to-face appointments, sales reps can keep the dialog going with their customers to sell more, sell better, and strengthen the customer relationship. Writing orders on paper is over. Technology has unlocked the potential to use online ordering as a way for retailers to become strategic advisors to their retail customers.