We don’t need to tell you that the B2B has shifted to online sales — the past year has made it pretty obvious. Those not embracing an online sales process will be collateral victims of what the pandemic has brought. It’s not totally about face-to-face anymore. Here are 3 reasons why:
- The days of doing all business with cheques and cash have—for good or ill—gone away. We live in a digital economy. The cha-ching of cash registers has been replaced by the clicking of keyboards and automated online transactions.
- Online commerce has skyrocketed because of social distancing fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic. Digital-first strategies are coming out on top and traditionally slow-moving B2B environments are struggling to catch up. This is partly because digital-first strategies are fueled by shorter sales cycles and quicker cash flow, so it’s easier to stay agile.
- Regardless of what is spurring the growth, online sales are simply better. They will always play a role because the online sales process benefits from automation and greater reach and speed. That speed is enhanced by low-friction purchasing with SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) products.
This article will cover the fundamentals of an online sales process and why embracing these is so vital for B2B SaaS business.
SaaS — learn from it and use it
SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) is a great example of an industry that grew up online. Fundamentally, the success of SaaS has to do with the ways in which SaaS itself is aligned with the needs of online sales. Integrating SaaS products into your portfolio can help supercharge online sales. However, on a more basic level, by looking at what helps SaaS succeed online, you can strive to mirror many of these capabilities within other contexts.
SaaS points to ponder:
- With SaaS, sales cycles become lightning fast. B2B customers can see everything on the SaaS platform to make a quick purchasing decision.
- SaaS can be a frictionless way to onboard new customers and drive sales with free trials and freemium versions of your product.
- SaaS can be a bridge or tie breaker for an undecided B2B purchaser as well as a path to building trust—the foundational element of customer retention and repeat sales.
While we here at Gripped don’t offer a SaaS product, we try to adopt similar practices. For example, we try to onboard customers frictionlessly in order to ensure the rest of the business relationship works. We offer flexibility to help customers experience our services with limited commitment, and seek to offer value upfront. This is all essential in building trust — our customers must know from the get-go that they’re investing in a marketing agency that works for them.
Code Marketing — applying the SaaS approach
The term that we use to describe this “SaaS-inspired” approach to online marketing and sales is “Code Marketing” — a term coined by Hubspot’s Brian Halligan to describe B2B companies that allow their customers to try products through self-service and online channels as part of the sales process.
So, Code Marketing lets customers get a taste of what you offer before committing to an actual purchase or making a long-term commitment, e.g. “try before you buy.” This strategy, by the way, is the foundation of the Gripped approach, and central to our advice on how to move your B2B sales process online. We provide a free growth assessment to potential customers who want an idea of how Gripped could help your B2B tech business grow.
Aligning sales with marketing
Another requisite of a B2B marketing strategy is where sales and marketing teams work together. Your marketing team and the data they collect, curate, and make available to the sales team can really improve your sales process.
The critical connection between sales teams and marketers is content marketing, which draws leads that, in turn, result in sales. Content marketing, as a core of sales strategy, requires high-quality and sincere writing about your product and placing that content prominently on your website pages, blogs, downloadable white papers and eBooks, etc.
Alignment comes into play when the high-quality content you prepare matches your “whole marketing” approach.
Pro tip: In preparing your web and marketing content, don’t focus too much on SEO (search engine optimisation). Instead, concentrate on good quality content that targets your product’s persona. Yes, pay attention to logical keyword placement, but don’t get distracted. The search engines reward quality content with high rankings.
Using automation to your advantage
Marketing and sales merge and feed on each other when data collection generates leads. If data is the oil of B2B sales strategy, it can be pumped into your sales strategy machine by:
- Using your content as a way to collect information about prospects who read it.
- Employing tracking cookies on your website to collect information about leads
- Harnessing the power of email to generate leads, for example, adding a fill-in form to download an eBook or White Paper.
Reminder: Again, it’s not “all or nothing” when it comes to online B2B sales. You need to ensure each sales process you employ works together and likewise aligns with your marketing.
What will the future look like for B2B SaaS?
The Grandview research report projects a bright future for B2B eCommerce through 2027. For example, the “global business-to-business eCommerce market size… is expected to expand at an annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.5%” through 2027. That’s from an already whopping USD 5.7 trillion in 2019.
Among the reasons cited in the report were:
- There is a “rising inclination of enterprises towards eCommerce platforms” as business leaders are attracted to the “ease of carrying out businesses.”
- B2B eCommerce reduces costs and increases efficiency by “automating labor-intensive and manual processes” through offering customer self-service options.
- B2B eCommerce platforms “automate the trading processes” with resulting opportunities for collaboration with suppliers and distributors quickly.
As the saying goes, nothing succeeds like success. The growth of global B2B eCommerce was accelerated during the pandemic. When the pandemic passes, the learning curve will have flattened through the experience of necessity. What is needed next is a marketing and sales strategy to harvest business opportunities in the B2B milieu.
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Create frictionless experiences
The beauty of a well-built online B2B sales strategy is that, with the right foundations in place, your business can be agile. It all comes back to creating frictionless online processes — including Code Marketing with the easy self-service approach, aligning sales and marketing, and implementing content marketing effectively, all of which help drive quicker B2B sales cycles.
To learn more about embracing an online sales process, check out our step-by-step guide: How to Move Your B2B Sales Process Online.
How Gripped can help
Wondering if your existing sales and marketing presence is keeping pace with the market demand and your own potential? Sign up for a free growth assessment. We’ll include an objective review of your website and strategy, along with fast and simple suggestions to optimise your online B2B sales approach and strategy that can deliver sustainable, long term, profitable growth.