B2B E-commerce is an Essential Sales Communication Tool. It Will Only Replace the BAD Reps!

One of the biggest points of contention when we are discussing the importance of B2B e-commerce to office technology dealers is how it will fit among their current sales team. This is a great point that I believe is looked at through the wrong lens.

You need to think of an e-commerce platform as a sales communication tool.

Much like your telephones, email, and social media platforms. When positioned properly it quickly becomes the greatest tool a good sales rep can possess outside of sales acumen itself. Do not inhibit your reps from having such a tool!

Now, there is truth and validity to the conversation on how it fits among your sales team. Before we get there, you must realize that the decision should not be made based on how you feel it might fit among your current staff. It’s something they need to adopt, or they likely need to move on.

Why? You would be taking a solid bet that e-commerce will not ever be relevant in our industry.

PS. It already is. See the stats below gathered by HP to validate many decisions in their Amplify program. You don’t have to agree with the ins and outs of the entire program, but you must understand the stats that led to the decision:

  •      92% of buyers research online and on social networks
  •      70% of companies are undergoing digital transformation
  •      92% of modern buyers prefer to buy online
  •      94% of B2B buyers more apt to purchase if the experience is easy

Now let’s address the elephant in the room… Tenured MPS sales reps. The truth is these are the least likely people to adopt e-commerce. For some odd reason in our industry, they see e-commerce as competition. They believe the platforms are there to replace their jobs. They also believe no digital process can add as much value as them. The truth is they are right if they use e-commerce as a value-add tool to their customers. In that sense they automatically have the upper hand. Real product/service knowledge mixed with an easy way for the customer to procure both managed agreements and transactional buys.

Also true, is we are at the tipping point where e-commerce vs. a rep without e-commerce results in an e-commerce win. You can look for confirmation bias and will find it. The exceptions to the rule will continue to dwindle in numbers though. We know this to be true because we have seen multiple different 100% e-commerce workflows sell $50-100k+ contracts. Yes, with finishing options. Yes, with A3 if needed. Yes, with variable terms. Don’t look too hard for what it can’t do—it’s harder and harder to find.

Increasing sales growth chart on a smartphone

Sales reps: look at e-commerce as an efficiency tool. A communication tool. A tool that shows instant respect for your customers’ time and knowledge.

Something that helps them buy easily and you to have the ability to layer more sales opportunities into your pipeline with less ongoing work. Not having e-commerce is the equivalent to saying you will decide to sell without email anymore.

MPSToolbox as an example allows you to customize product mix, pricing, has industry specific integrations into distribution/RMS, and allows for the digitization of workflows you are used to already.

This conversation is not about sales reps vs. e-commerce. It is about good sales reps willing to evolve with their customers vs. bad sales reps unwilling to change with the obvious. Full stop.