Omnichannel in B2B sales: The new normal

B2BGlobalisationSales

November 17th, 2021

Is Omnichannel the future of B2B sales? If you answered yes, you are not alone. The new analysis makes it clear: Omnichannel is here to stay for B2B sales.

 

By Harpreet Kaur


 

When it comes to sales negotiations, B2B buyers want it all. According to a new McKinsey & Co. report based on a survey of 3,500 B2B decision-makers in 12 countries, B2B buyers are now looking to use and sustain omnichannel options such as in-person, remote, or e-commerce channels to make deals with supplier sales reps. In those e-commerce channels, content has a significant influence.

 

In the immediate wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, in-person meetings and deals may appear to be a thing of the past. Despite the fact that many procurement departments have caught up with the digital trend in their processes, many B2B deals and negotiations are still conducted in-person. With the pandemic, that had to change.

 

Omnichannel is a multichannel approach to sales that focuses on providing a consistent customer experience whether the client is shopping online, on a mobile device, on a laptop, or in a physical store. Omnichannel provides your B2B customers with a consistent experience in spite of the digital device or platform they are using.

 

With omnichannel established as the new buying norm, 64% of B2Bs intend to increase the number of hybrid sellers over the next six months, making this model, which includes representatives who interact with customers via video, phone, apps, and occasional in-person visits, the lead sales role.

 

Omnichannel: A Model rather than an Exception

 

The pandemic has firmly established omnichannel interactions as the primary route for B2B sales. Even as in-person engagement reemerged as a possibility, buyers made it clear that they prefer a cross-channel mix, preferring in-person, remote, and digital self-service interactions in equal measure.

 

Figure 1:

Credit: McKinsey & Company

 

As B2B buyers switched to remote and digital modes of engagement, they discovered a lot to like. Since August 2020, the use and preference for e-commerce, for example, self-service has increased. Buyers switch easily between in-person and remote sales as quarantine restrictions change, with the choice of channel based on their convenience and timing rather than effectiveness.

 

The sales leader manages and adjusts with new customer habits and for making their customers permanent, by providing happy hour offers and sometimes they double rewards on almost every purchase by the customers. Change in customer behavior is due to an amplification of digital trends that were started before the pandemic. It is believed that Omnichannel in B2B sales operations will look significantly different in the coming times.

 

The push for Omnichannel commerce urged a revamping of the sales team. Many moved with commendable speed, adapting processes on the fly to respond to and adapt alongside their customer base. With omnichannel becoming the new buying norm, 85 percent of B2B organizations anticipate that the hybrid rep will be the most common sales role in their organization within the next three years (2024).

 

How Hybrid Sales Affects the Establishment of Omnichannel?

 

With Omnichannel becoming the new buying norm, Hybrid sales representatives will quickly become the most common sales role. Hybrid sellers are typically defined as reps who were previously ‘in-person by default’ but now sell with a fairly even mix of remote—mostly via video—and in-person, supplemented by phone or email as needed.

 

Of the nearly 3,500 respondents to McKinsey’s February 2021 B2B Pulse survey, 28 percent said their organizations had hybrid reps in place, and 77 percent of those introduced this specifically to address the surge in virtual selling due to COVID-19. The expectation is that this will quickly become the number-one sales role (Figure 2).

 

Figure 2:

Credit: McKinsey & Company

 

Omnichannel is the Future of B2B

 

People enjoy shopping online because they can browse an infinite catalog, quickly filter by feature and price, and read user and expert reviews about the product. They can also compare prices between different retailers. Best of all, they can avoid the check-out lines at physical stores as well as traffic jams on the way.

 

To date, two factors, in particular, have been blocking greater penetration by retailers’ online businesses, trying to stifle the overall growth of online or omnichannel retail: the digital shopping experience and the costs of fulfillment and last-mile delivery. However, it is believed that developments in both areas will result in significant progress. As a result, it is expected that Omnichannel will have a promising future in B2B sales.

 

Benefits of Omnichannel in B2B sales

 

  1. Long-term relationships with customers: The omnichannel approach’s customer-centric perspective enables distributors to earn customer loyalty across all channels. Because omnichannel marketing is a unified process for all distribution channels, this will not necessitate separate marketing efforts for each channel. This reduces the risk of information loss, improves customer service, and rewards customers regardless of when or where they shop.
  2. Reaching out to higher audiences: People who are constantly online and require the ability to seamlessly switch between online and offline shopping channels, as well as between different online channels, are an ideal target audience for omnichannel commerce. Because they are aware of their options, if they have a bad experience while shopping through any channel, they will simply leave and find another store that will provide a better experience.
  3. A new source of Income: Omnichannel commerce has enabled distributors to create and generate new revenue streams. It simplifies the implementation of payment infrastructure in a wide range of small businesses.
  4. Integration of sales: An omnichannel strategy allows for the integration of sales, marketing, inventory, customer service, and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. As a result, each aspect of the business collaborates with the others to provide the best products and services to your customers.
  5. Increases the efficiency of business: Implementing omnichannel commerce strategies allows business owners to provide a consistent experience to their customers across all platforms. The omnichannel strategy provides distributors with a unified, centralized database of products, prices, discounts, and other information. As a result, the efficiency of the business increases.
  6. Boosting B2B sales: Consumers can shop from any location, using any device or platform. Such adaptability and cross-platform compatibility broaden the market for a distributor’s products. Furthermore, it provides buyers with a broader range of product information as well as numerous ways to access and purchase the products. Distributors and wholesalers can use these channels to their advantage by creating comprehensive product content that converts viewers into buyers.

 

To take advantage of the opportunities in B2B Omni Channel selling, sales teams must acquire new enablement, skills, and technology. Omnichannel isn’t going anywhere. That’s a good thing. B2B sales organizations that embrace this shift and enable integrated interactions throughout the buying journey have the potential to transform last year’s learning curve into a new growth trajectory.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the WorldRef.


 

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