Sales reps “B2B” replaced by e-commerce by 2020?

More than ever, companies need to continuously improve their business processes and track trends that evolve at a frantic speed.

Most companies that sell to businesses (B2B) use a basic internet website, sales representatives, printed catalogs, manufacturers’ agents and trade shows… but curiously, only a few of them use a transactional site (online Shop).

Yet, companies that buy to other businesses (B2B), shop suppliers, like everyone else, via internet. They shop, compare and they are eager to find and buy quickly.

Many CEO I meet, to whom I ask why they don’t do e-commerce, tell me “why changing a successful formula, I built my business that way.”

But, when I challenge them on their increase rate, the rotation of their inventories, the percentage of new customers, the increase of their expenditures, customer pressure on and finally on net benefits … every time, I hear a slight tremor in their voice .

Let’s do an exercise, imagine that I am a B2B buyer and that I know what I want.

  • I search and I found a provider online
  • I call and I talk to a receptionist
  • She puts me through the customer service
  • I am a new customer, she informs me that she has to transfer me to a representative
  • The representative is in a meeting, he will call me back (my shopping experience starts being irritating)
  • The representative calls me back, tells me more about his products and services range (I have already seen it on the website…)
  • He asks me questions about my annual volume…this is never ending!
  • He asks me fill in manually an account opening form… as they used to do in the 1800’s (Now… if he starts talking about fax … I give up…)
  • He finally gives me a price list…
  • If it suits me, I have to fill in an order form and send them or sign their submission
  • They will call me back later to inform me about transportation costs and delivery times… not so sure about that… it depends on stocks and carriers.
  • As a joke, I almost feel like saying to the seller: “I’ll attach my order on a pigeon’s paw… and if the pigeon doesn’t stop for eating crusts in a park… you should have my order soon”

My shopping experience… a waste of time, so ordinary.

Let’s do the same exercise with a supplier on a transactional site.

  • I search and I found a provider online.
  • I shop and found what I’m looking on his transactional site.
  • I place order in my cart
  • I register my information, delivery address.
  • I am informed in real time of the delivery fees
  • I pay with my credit card and receive by email a tracking number.

BOOM I finished my order!

Did I enjoy my experience…YES

Will I order again if delivery is fine and the quality is good? YES 

Because business with them, is just easy.

If you were a buyer, what method you prefer?

Particularly since some platforms allow for the integration of preferential price levels for large volume buyers and even to make in B2B and B2C sales via the same platform.

Less 1 million jobs for B2B representatives as of 2020.

The firm Forrester Research investigated to consider the future of the sales model for companies selling to businesses.

Their findings? Functions of sales representatives (B2B) are likely to disappear massively in favor of search engines and e-commerce. A decrease of one million jobs is planned by 2020.

The analyst firm has delivered a study to better understand the future of trade relations “B2B” at the digital age in the United States. According to analysts, this type of trade will be widely abandoned by the human in favor of web tools for efficiency reasons.

Evolution of the salesman function

Electronic commerce is not going to erase all trade representative positions, but their functions will probably evolve.

Almost 100% of their time will be focused on developing new customers instead of managing orders. They will convince their customers to place orders via the transactional website and possibly also work to develop and monitor web customer acquisition strategies.

Most likely, the companies that have several representatives, may decrease the number by efficiency gains and this will be possible through e-commerce.

Make it happen

All the associations in the industry put a lot of effort to educate SMEs on the importance of appropriating new technologies, to ensure the sustainability of SMEs.

Human beings will always have an important role in business relationships. We need to offer more alternatives to customers. Some customers prefer working ‘old school’ while others favor efficiency through new technologies. By having a multi-channel offer, you increase chances to please and attract the attention of your prospective customers and strengthen relationships with your current customers…

More than ever, companies need to continuously improve their business processes and track trends that evolve at a frantic speed.

Sylvain D. Desjardins, CEO, Ecommerce First

Ecommerce First, we power up your business in the new economy by leveraging e-commerce, using powerful tools and a winning strategy.