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7 effective ways to optimize your B2B buyer experience

Actualizado: 16 nov 2023

7 effective ways to optimize your B2B buyer experience

Can you guess what brands like Amazon, Apple, and Ikea have in common?

An unbeatable customer experience.

Whether you buy online or in-store, expect a top-notch journey from start to finish guaranteed.

Looking at the stats, it’s easy to see why such brands devote more time and money to their B2B shopping experience. As far back as 2014, 89% of businesses competed based on customer experience, and these days, 73% of buyers consider their customer experience an essential part of their buying decision.

So if you’re hoping for a bigger slice of the B2B commerce pie, here lies your opportunity. To help you get started, in this article, we’ll unpack why it’s crucial to optimize your B2B commerce business for unforgettable buyer experiences and what it takes to make it happen.

Table of contents

  • Why Improving your B2B buying journey is worth its weight in gold

  • 7 practical ways to optimize your B2B buying experience

  • The right way to handle your B2B buying experience

Looking for a shortcut to level up your B2B buyer’s experience? We’ve got you covered.

Why Improving your B2B buying journey is worth its weight in gold

It’s easy to assume that improving your B2B buying journey is a “nice to have”, especially if the sales are rolling and customers are happy. But when you consider your sales reps have only 5% of your customers' time in their buyer’s journey, and customers are 57%-70% of the way through their research by the time they reach out to your sales team, one thing is clear. Optimizing your B2B buyer’s journey is a valuable pursuit. In case you're still on the fence, here are a few more reasons why upgrading your buyer’s experience is crucial:

Lay the foundation for growth

A well-built and smooth-operating business has the capacity for growth beyond your wildest dreams. So if you want to scale, fine tuning every area of your B2B buying experience is a must. This sentiment is solidified when you consider the shift towards eCommerce in recent years and the financial gains up for the taking. Nearly 70% of B2B buyers are poised to spend up to $500,000 on a single eCommerce transaction.

Reduce costs and increase profits simultaneously

Did you know inefficiency costs companies anywhere from 20% to 30% of their revenue each year? Yep, not good. Inefficient processes can bloat your expenses and dampen productivity, spelling bad news for your business’ bottom line. But not all hope is lost. When you make improvements to your B2B buying experience, you can reclaim your time, boost productivity, and cawl back profit.

Gain a competitive edge

With increasing competition and rising buyer expectations, providing a fantastic customer experience is becoming increasingly important. Why? It sets your brand apart and keeps buyers coming back.

Providing a phenomenal customer experience is so effective it can even help you poach your competitors’ customers. 1 in 3 customers will abandon a brand they love after a single bad experience, while 92% would completely leave a company after two or three negative interactions. Moreover, when considering business costs, it's essential to recognize that retaining current customers comes at a substantially lower expense than acquiring new ones. This fact reinforces the strategic advantage of focusing on customer satisfaction and loyalty.

7 practical ways to optimize your B2B buying experience

Now you know why up-leveling your B2B buyer’s journey is so crucial, it’s time to act. But what steps should you take? Let’s run through some optimizations to make your customer experience faultless:

Top tip: Optimize each stage in the buying journey from awareness through to advocacy. We’ll be diving into every step, so sit tight!

1. Make your products discoverable

A great way to ensure a breezy buying experience is to help them find the items they’re looking for quickly and easily. Here are some areas to focus on:

  • Site navigation: It’s not uncommon for B2B wholesale stores to have massive catalogs and product lines with multiple variations. As a result, finding products can be a chore for buyers without the right website setup. The problem is so common that 35% of buyers struggle to find desired products on ecommerce websites due to poor site structure and navigation. Overcome this challenge with optimized site navigation, search functions, and an intuitive design.

  • SEO: Providing clear product descriptions, imagery, and videos reinforced with a well-thought-out keyword strategy can improve your search engine ranking to get more eyeballs on your products organically.

  • Search engine placement: Did you know 89% of B2B buyers use the Internet for vendor selection? So it's wise to make the task easy for buyers. For example, you could place ads on search engines, do guest posts on industry websites, and optimize your website for search.

2. Provide a seamless buying experience from start to finish

Whether your customer is buying online or in-store, their purchase journey should be effortless. Keep in mind that your B2B buyers have also been purchasing online for their personal needs and are used to the high standards executed by B2C brands. So take inspiration from top brands in the B2C space like Amazon, Zalando, and Nespresso. Study their buying journeys, then cater their approach to your specific B2B buying journey.

To put this point into perspective, if you have an online webshop with physical locations, you could have:

  • An eCommerce solution that offers the option to purchase on an online account or without one

  • Files and data synced in a CRM and document management system to access essential customer and company information from anywhere

  • Ability to request a quote online

  • Easy reordering capabilities, e.g., bulk ordering features

  • Quick checkout process, e.g., one-click purchase

  • Payment options designed for business buyers (more on this later)

  • Digital sales rooms and hybrid sales teams (online, in-house, and field)

  • Customer service to answer questions

3. Digitize your back-office processes and procedures

Back office tasks may not immediately spring to mind when you think about improving your B2B buying experience. But your administrative processes lay the foundation for a smooth or rocky customer journey.

For example, manual and paper-based processes and procedures can create data siloes and increase admin workloads. The average small business spends 120 days on admin alone. The same goes for employees whose lost productivity racks up losses to the tune of $5 trillion annually. Worse still, the inefficiency zaps your team’s precious time, creating an opportunity cost.

On the flip side, digitizing back-office processes and procedures will have a positive effect on the buying experience. For instance, say your sales and customer onboarding processes are paper-based and decentralized. Going digital on a centralized platform makes it easier to nurture and close leads and execute effective customer success initiatives. To set your business up for big wins, digitize the following areas:

  • Operations: Digital Commerce and ERP software can help make your business operations, returns management, warehouse management, asset management, and more. Solutions like Odoo and Acumatica can help you organize these tasks.

  • Inventory management: Use a solution that can give you a clear view of your entire supply chain, accurately predict stock needs, and time shipment correctly for efficient warehousing. Look to solutions like Flieber and Logility to make demand planning easy.

  • Document management: Whether it's field sales agents or warehouse operators, everyone should have access to data from one source of truth to do their role. All files should be available digitally (extra points if your document management has offline usage capabilities). Document management software like Confluence and ClickUp can help you streamline workflows hassle-free.

  • Accounting: Sync your sales channels and procurement solutions to accounting software so you can track revenue, receivables, and payables with ease. Accounting systems like Kashoo and Zoho Books will ensure your numbers make sense.

  • Scheduling: Allow prospects and customers to book in time with your team through appointment booking solutions for things like demos, follow-ups, onboarding, and support. Implement solutions like Calendly and Timetap to keep your scheduling in check.

  • Conversion Rate Optimization: Split testing elements in your online sales channels like CTAs, messaging, and colors. You can use solutions like Hotjar and Glassbox.

4. Make payments painless with a B2B Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) solution

No one likes a painful payment experience. You know, those stores where you’ve got to provide everything but a vile of blood to pay. There’s a strange phenomenon in the B2B commerce space where brands optimize their entire buying journey, that is, until payments. Seems that they forget that only when complete a payment is considered a converted deal. In other B2B commerce, it’s also common to see that buyers are requested to fill in long forms and wait for 1-2 days to get payment terms or face paying the first order upfront. It’s clearly not ideal and can make even the most buyer want to hit the exit button.

Guilty? Don’t sweat, you're not alone. Turn over a new leaf and increase conversions in the process by making payments easy for your customers. Since 95% of B2B Buyers want to pay by invoice, a great way to uplevel your payment experience is through a B2B BNPL solution to allow your buyers to purchase on net terms. A streamlined end-to-end experience can maximize conversion and retention, and even increase average order value. For best results, onboard a B2B BNPL solution built specifically for B2B commerce and has a wide coverage of buyer locations.

Want a breakdown of what to look out for in a B2B BNPL solution? Check out our guide.

5. Sync, sales, marketing, and inventory

B2B buying is tough. So tough that 73% of B2B buyers said their last purchasing spree was complex or difficult. Most buyers can relate to the disappointment of seeing an ad, clicking on add to cart, only to discover it’s out of stock. Or worse, paying for the item only to receive an apology and refund shortly after due to a stockout.

Scenarios like these can derail a buying plan as customers must scramble to find an alternative. The result is a poor buying experience and additional work for the buyer, as every buying decision is valuable and can affect the prosperity of the business. But when you link sales, marketing, and inventory, you can ensure you only sell what you can fulfill. You’ll also be able to maximize your ad budgets and take advantage of every lead that comes in.

6. Modernize your marketing efforts

The demographics of B2B Buyers and online spending habits have changed. Millennials now make up more than half of the workforce and participate in 73% of all B2B buying decisions. Also, as far back as 2015, 74% of B2B buyers spent at least half of their research time online before they made an offline purchase.

Knowing this, don’t be afraid to stray away from the classic PDF proposal, infographics, and sales decks. Opt for personalized assets that will appeal to the digital native generations, like social media images and video reels. Also, share content and ads on the channels your buyers frequent for each stage of the customer journey. Also, educate your prospects to help them make informed purchasing decisions. Don’t forget to highlight the USP and benefits of your product to position it as the best option for your ideal customers.

These steps alone can pay huge dividends for your business, as 52% of buyers say they’re definitely more likely to buy from a business after reading its content. And according to research by FocusVision, this content should be directly on your business website, available on internet searches, social media, publications, and emails.

7. Go omnichannel and personalize your customer touchpoints

Oftentimes, buyers look around online before reaching out to a sales rep or making a purchase. So where your customers start their buying journey isn’t necessarily where they’ll finish it.

To maximize your conversions, it's crucial you create an unforgettable, branded experience across channels. That’s where omnichannel commerce comes in. Omnichannel commerce is a sales initiative that enables you to provide a uniform buying experience across channels. For omnichannel commerce to be effective, everything from your messaging to your color selections must be in sync.

However, note getting omnichannel commerce right is no small feat and will take time and skill to execute properly. So don’t be afraid to call in the experts to make your investment worthwhile.

Additionally, personalize touchpoints in your buyer’s journey. Nowadays, 71% of customers expect personalization and get frustrated when it’s not present. So making this adjustment will grab your prospect’s attention, make your offers more relevant, and show customers you value them. The result? More sales!

The right way to handle your B2B buying experience

Whether you’re a pure-play wholesaler or multichannel distributor, paying attention to your buying experience can pay huge dividends. But if you want to be successful, make improving your B2B buying experience a continuous pursuit.

Stay on top of customer buying trends, scour other industries for ideas on how to freshen up your customer journey, and test, test, test. Soon you’ll have a B2B buying experience that delights your customers and keeps bank balances high. Who knows? With time and effort, your business could also have a seat among the commerce superstars.

Ready to take your buyer’s experience to the next level? Chat with us.

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