Selling complex products is well… complicated. Throw “online” into the mix and there’s a whole new level of complexity. How do you sell super complex products online? We’ll try to demystify it for you. Let’s start.
Why are online B2B sales difficult?
Most B2B buying journeys differ from the B2C ones. The B2B sales process is usually much longer, because the buyer needs to do a thorough research, negotiate a deal, and convince other decision makers (or even whole procurement departments) that a product is worth spending their budget on. Moreover, B2B customers usually require a salesperson’s assistance. There is a need for someone who can explain the product in great detail, give advice on customizing the order, and sell it.
B2C sales is rarely that convoluted. It most probably relies on self-service. As in B2B, consumers may also search for information about the product, but in most situations, they don’t need to consult a salesperson nor other people to make a purchase. They go to the store, pick an item from the shelf, pay for it, and it’s theirs. Or they find it online, put it in the shopping cart and pay for it. They know what they want, how much they want, and where they can get it. It’s that simple.
B2C companies focus on making sales even easier by investing in digital tools. They can use technology to grow their business. It helps them understand their markets, perfect their sales strategy and optimize their processes. Yet, when B2B firms are entering the world of digital sales, they may have a hard time to get a customer. Why is that? They have a different buying journey that common sales tools can’t cater to.
B2B buying journey for complex products is different
Customers go through a lot of steps before they order a product. All of those steps fall under the term “buying journey”, aka what a customer goes through until they buy. Every company has its own buying journey, but there are some similarities. B2C companies have some common points, so do B2B businesses. Yet, the B2B buying journey for complicated solutions is a whole other piece of pie. How so?
B2B sales for complicated products needs personalized customer experience and a special focus on human-to-human relationships. Salespeople need to stay close to their customers and be able to customize the product. The buying journey is way more complicated for such solutions. It involves a lot of interaction between buyers and sellers before they can reach the agreement. Plus, there is a lot more paperwork involved, such as orders, manifests, invoices, etc. Without help, or a streamlined process, formalities become a great obstacle in B2B. It’s a greater volume of work than an average B2C sales is.
Using B2C tools for B2B sales doesn’t help
When a B2B company wants to start selling online, it discovers that the majority of sales tools are made for B2C firms - and its focus on self-service - in mind. The lack of the right equipment to do one’s job can be a great obstacle. How can you attract the right customers, explain your product, tailor the offer to the company, and negotiate the deal when you use tools that are tailored to making the customer less reliant on a salesperson’s help?
Most B2B companies, especially the ones that sell complicated products that need a personalized approach to customers, can’t rely on self-service. They need tools that help them establish a great level of trust with those they sell products to, customize the order on the go, and negotiate the agreement. Those needs should be addressed.
How to sell complex products online?
Creating an online strategy for selling complex products doesn’t require a lot of resources. You don’t even need to go through the burden of digital transformation. There’s a way of doing it smart. What you need is some sticky notes, a pen, blank wall and an hour or two for thinking things through. What do you need to do?
Make a few lists. Each list should be in a separate column. Use different colors of sticky notes, so you don’t mix them up. Every sticky note should contain only one thing (place/way/time/need) plus your customer’s feelings, such as frustration, anxiety, relief that accompany that thing. What kind of lists are we talking about? Create seven lists. Jot down:
- every place you get customers from - do you make cold calls, attend conferences, get customers through word of mouth? Each sticky note should be a single place you get customers from plus feelings that accompany the interaction;
- every possible way your customer can get in touch with you - when customers want to discuss the order, do they use phone calls, ask you for a face-to-face meeting, visit you? Devote each sticky note to every method of communication plus write down what your customer can feel when they reach out to you;
- every possible way you get in touch with customers - a reverse scenario: what means of communication do you use to reach out to your customers? Do you need to schedule a meeting or pick up a phone and call them - write that down on the sticky notes;
- every time your customer needs to talk with you - when do the customers seek your assistance? What do they do? Think about a couple of your most recent customers and jot that down;
- every time you need to talk with your customers - how many times do you get in touch with your customers, and what for? It’s important to write down what sort of feelings accompany those conversations, too;
- everything you need to discuss with your customers to file the order - in what situations do you need to contact customers? For example, you may call them to get some data from them or follow up on the offer - write down any situation in which you need to reach out;
- everything you need to know to propose a solution to your customers - make a note of every piece of information you need to suggest the right product to your customers; as always, make sure you pay attention to the feelings of your custom at that time.
Now, what you need to transform those sticky notes into the online world. For example, if you need to explain what a feature X does, why don’t you prepare a short PDF explaining it, or better - post it on your website if that’s not classified information. Similarly, let’s say you need to remind your customer to send you some important stuff, what can you do to automate the process with the use of tools?
Such a list may seem silly, but all the sticky notes put together is a buyer’s journey at your company. After you have everything written down, you can start imagining what you can use to take the whole process online and make it digital. Trust me, it can be done and you don’t need a lot.
If you find yourself looking at one sticky note and not knowing what to do, see how other companies solve a similar problem. Inspiration can come from everywhere, so don’t limit yourself to just your competition. Chances are that the digital revolution can make you unbeatable, just as we discussed in the article about how CX is king.
Use tools to sell super complex B2B products online
The above exercise helped you discover a buyer’s journey. In order to transform it into the digital world, you might consider acquiring the right tools. But don’t worry - you don’t need to revolutionize the way you sell your complex products. Tools should assist you.
There are many apps that can help you store data about your customers. Those are called CRM platforms, which is short for Customer Relationship Management platforms. If you want to track your inventory, use PIM or ERP to help you manage orders. What about sales?
To maintain a high level of customer satisfaction during the sales process, we recommend you get interested in tools that help you sell over video. We explain why that is important in another blog post (Video sales vs. phone call sales), but to sum it up: video helps you continue to assist your customers in a way a phone call cannot. Plus, modern tools, such as our app for video-based selling, Meetsales, don’t require you to adopt new habits. They are fairly intuitive and reinforce human-to-human relationships at your company, and create an outstanding Customer Experience.
You’re ready to sell super complex products online
You examined the way your organization runs sales. You learned that tools can help you digitize your sales. As a first step to selling super complex products online, we would love to propose a challenge. Take one of the tasks that you hate the most, and try to automate it with online tools. It could be sending an email reminder to a client, setting up an alarm to call them or… reaching out to a new client via a video-based selling app. We can help you with the last one. Let’s schedule a demo with us and we can show you how Meetsales work. That would be fun.