According to the Forrester B2B E-commerce Playbook, total annual US B2B e-commerce sales will reach $559 billion by the end of 2013, bringing the transactional volume of B2B e-commerce to more than twice the size of B2C e-commerce. With all that money pouring into a growing market, B2B software companies must ensure a convenient sales process that reflects their customers’ shopping preferences. Businesses must plan for conflict between different sales channels and customers’ expectations of the shopping experience.
B2B sales channels
With the growth of e-commerce, the responsibility of direct-selling shifted from sales reps to online stores. This transition resulted in lower costs and better customer experiences. For example, websites and e-stores allowed business buyers to easily research products on their own and even shop at odd hours (which is especially important in a global marketplace where vendor and buyers may reside in different hemispheres).
However, direct B2B purchases online can be risky. The products themselves are often complicated to install and use and require lots of support and maintenance. If customers buy straight from a website, they may end up with a piece of software that doesn’t suit their needs. B2B products are also very expensive. Buyers may be adverse to submitting payment for large orders online without first talking to a sales rep and clarifying concerns. That’s why its important to make sure your key accounts (the frequent buyers with expensive orders) have access to sales reps and self-service portals when necessary. Read the rest of this entry »
Adobe Creative Cloud
Along with Microsoft’s Office 365, the launch of Adobe’s Creative Cloud last year proved the effectiveness of cloud products sold as a subscription. As I researched Adobe’s recent announcement that they’d be “terminating” their on-premise license, I realized that there was a lot of confusion surrounding the issue. Many people seem to think that Adobe no longer sells on-premise software and has made a complete shift to the cloud. That’s not exactly the case. So let’s set the matter straight and figure out why there is so much hoopla about Adobe’s announcement this week.
First the rumors: My first encounter with the Adobe announcement this week was a rumor that they were shutting down their desktop licenses and moving their entire line of products exclusively to the cloud. To put it mildly I was shocked. With the success of Google, Salesforce and others, software companies definitely see SaaS as an important business strategy. And over the past couple of years we’ve seen big name software makers like Autodesk, Microsoft and Adobe shift to the cloud and subscription licenses. Read the rest of this entry »
Selling B2B software online is a little different than selling a retail product. For one thing, the buying cycle is longer. It’s also more complicated. Business buyers may be leery of submitting their payment information to an e-store. B2B products are more complex than consumer products and may require customization by the manufacturer before use, thus diminishing the need for a direct e-store.
But, whether your B2B product lends itself to direct selling through an e-store or not, you need to optimize the path that customers take toward purchasing. So how do you that? According to this infographic from Google, it’s all about balancing SEO, PPC, video content and mobile design.
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