Make Your Industrial Website a Digital Sales Accelerator
In a previous guest blog post, "The pathway to predictable sales growth, B2B lead generation and the sales engine", Tom Halpin discussed the components of the sales engine and how a client is successfully providing actionable lead generation to its independent rep partners. In this guest blog post, Tom focuses on how an industrial supplier's website can fuel the sales process by incorporating digital sales accelerators. Enjoy.
Today’s B2B digital consumer operates in a completely different environment than buyers of the past. This new buying process requires B2B marketers to think and act differently.
For example the following illustrate of the shifting landscape in the B2B Buying Process:
- 94% of B2B buyers conduct some sort of research online 
- Studies show that 60% of the buying journey is now complete before a buyer’s first conversation with a salesperson 
- Since early 2014 more searches are done on mobile devices than on desktops 
- 43% of B2B buyers are millennials (born after 1980). Millennials think and buy differently than their GenX and Baby Boomer counterparts and have an entirely different set of expectations .
The shift in the B2B buying process and the increased importance of your digital presence must be recognized in your overall sales engine. It only follows that B2B suppliers need to leverage technology to quickly advance conversations along the sales continuum. I refer to these tools as digital sales accelerators which consist of your website, product search and selection tools such as online catalogs, product configurators, online 3D CAD models (downloadable) and the ability to transact (if applicable). There are other digital sales accelerators that can be employed depending on the uniqueness of your sales process, target market and intended business outcome.
The diagram above illustrates how a user might execute a search within Google, Yahoo! or Bing and, once they reach your website, utilize your onsite product search selection tools to quickly select the product of choice before converting. In some cases, a B2B client might not offer products or services that lend themselves to transacting through an ecommerce platform, so a conversion might be something other than a transaction (e.g. a phone calls, a 3D CAD download, an RFQ form submission, a video viewing or another positive action/event). In today’s buying process, companies that serve up compelling content and facilitate the digital buying experience outperform their peers every day of the week and twice on Sunday!
The following case study outlines how RTS Cutting Tools has successfully won new, web-driven business at an unprecedented rate [ed: CDS's own RTS Cutting Tools case study is here]. By acknowledging the buying process had changed, RTS Cutting Tools positioned themselves to win sales more efficiently and consistently.
In working with several B2B clients I’ve witnessed the impact of digital marketing solutions firsthand. Specifically, investments in some or all of the following:
- New, Content Rich Website with Digital Sales Accelerators
- Online Catalog
- Product Configurators
- 3D CAD Models
- Shopping Cart (if applicable)
- Search Engine Optimization & Conversion Improvement
- Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising
- Website Analytics.
Clients that allocate budget for these digital marketing solutions typically achieve the following common results:
- Unprecedented growth in actionable lead generation
- An increase in new customer activations and overall web-driven transactions
- Analytics-driven guidance to further optimize their digital impact.
Buying-in to digital sales acceleration is likely the most important strategic decision you’ll make this year. Think through how your company can reallocate sales and marketing budget to adapt to this new reality and watch your sales grow predictably.
That's what Tom thinks and we agree with his guidance to industrial suppliers. Please let us know what you think by commenting below.
 Acuity Group 2014 State of B2B Procurement Study: Uncovering the Shifting Landscape in B2B Commerce
 Forbes: The Disappearing Sales Process
 Search Engine Watch: Mobile Now Exceeds PC, The Biggest Shift Since the Internet Began
 Adage: Google Says Millennial Influence on the Rise in B2B Buying