The need to invest operations and processes in the digital innovations touches all companies in every industry. B2B companies are seeing a shift in customer attention as they gravitate toward digital tools to research and buy products. B2B selling is more complex, however, involving more decision makers and influencers involved in final purchasing decisions. Higher price points, an array of products and specifications, and many competing sales channels, both traditional and digital, are affecting these types of sales. Having different needs at different stages of the customer decision journey isn’t uncommon either. A balanced approach across channels often includes communication over a variety of digital channels.
Over the past three years, McKinsey built a perspective on the most important digital characteristics needed to improve financial performance. Management dimensions of strategy, culture, organization, and capabilities correlate strongly with higher margins and shareholder returns. B2B companies are lagging being B2C in all but for of the measured areas. Since B2B companies are in a digital footrace, they face shrinking shelf lives for products and require attention to customer demands for price transparency. Customers want a better overall level of service. Getting these companies to adopt digital tools for their legacy-minded sales reps is also a must.
As the “consumerization” of the B2B process moves forward, the pressure to accelerate digitization efforts will only grow. However, there is a positive to this as effectiveness across the board will be boosted. Companies seeking to raise their omnichannel game can give these digital tools to their sales teams. This move implements a happy middle ground and balance between new and traditional channels. Believe it or not, what was once separate may now become very similar as B2B companies should look to B2C companies for inspiration.