The preference for B2B digital sales has doubled since the beginning of the global COVID-19 crisis.
Online business-to-business sales are now becoming the norm and have far surpassed traditional sales methods since the disruption of lockdown.
Many larger B2B organisations are thriving in the digital space, while micro and SMEs are opening their eyes to the possibilities and gains a digital presence can bring.
Phenomenal Growth of B2B E-commerce Sales
A global survey by McKinsey and Company shows that, since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the importance of B2B digital sales has doubled compared to traditional methods. For both B2B buyers and B2B customers, the importance they placed on digital was much less before the outbreak of COVID-19. Only 47% of B2B buyer and 48% of B2B customers were focused on digital pre-pandemic, whereas this has shot up to 65% and 66% respectively as a result of the lockdown restrictions.
The COVID-19 Effect on B2B Sales
It is clear from McKinsey’s findings that the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted a need for all B2B industries to reassess the strategies they use to reach and service their customers. Companies, large and small, have had to shift budgets from traditional forms of marketing and sales to adopt digital tactics to ensure potential clients are still able to find and trade with them despite the disruption of global lockdown.
Budget Shifts to Digital Marketing
Despite a global drop in overall marketing spend since the onset of the pandemic, according to an ongoing survey by Econsultancy, about one in five respondents say that “they have increased spending, or invested new spending, in strategic initiatives such as digital transformation for the first half of 2020”. In addition, “23% say that they have increased their spending, or invested new funds, into technology or infrastructure spending” since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis.
From both the Econsultancy and McKinsey surveys, it is clear there has been a shift in business mindset to understanding the importance of digital transformation and growth. Companies are becoming more aware that they need to evolve toward directing all sales through B2B e-commerce. Switching to a fully digital business model will build future resilience should a similar global event occur again.
Digital Sales Win the Race
The McKinsey survey marks the huge response to the digital changes that B2B organisations have had to adopt in recent months. B2B e-commerce revenue has increased by over 20% globally since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Not only this, but 96% of respondents have managed to adapt rapidly and have changed their sales models to digital methods.
The McKinsey survey indicates that the most preferred method of B2B ordering is now via a supplier’s website or using a mobile app, while ordering from a sales rep in person or via the phone are lower.
Selling to other business customers face to face has plummeted, while selling online through B2B e-commerce and assisting customers using chat, video or mobile apps has edged forward.
The Econsultancy survey backs this digital shift remarking that, “More than half (54%) of respondents from large enterprises say that the best way to describe their organisation’s response to the outbreak is “Shifting messaging to emphasise digital fulfilment/digital products/digital services”.
It doesn’t look this move to digital sales will be short-lived as 64% of decision makers believe their new digital sales methods are just as effective, if not more so, than those they used prior to COVID-19. A huge 80% of their respondents stated they were very likely to continue working this way for more than a year in the future.
Don’t Get Left Behind
Driven by the economic shock, the business world has taken a massive leap toward its digital future in only three short months. As the use of digital is predicted to stay, backed by the upward trend in B2B e-commerce sales, it seems this tremendous change will be irreversible.
In our experience, we see that many small and medium-sized companies have been slow to embrace e-commerce, especially in the B2B sector. They tend to have focused their budgets on more traditional lead generation and sales techniques such as trade shows, conferences and face to face meetings.
These statistics clearly show a big acceleration in digital change in the B2B sector. If you don’t adopt at least a few new online tools or techniques in your organisation in the near future, you will rapidly get left behind.
With a downturn in the global economy every single lead is precious and now is the time to invest in digital growth. Are you still relying on traditional sales processes? Think about the valuable leads and potential sales that those who are visible and easily found online will snatch up from you in the blink of an eye.
Now is the time to move to digital sales and digital marketing before your competitors do.
How We Can Help
We know it can be a daunting task to embark on your digital journey, especially as B2B e-commerce isn’t always as easy a sell as B2C in many respects. That’s where we can help.
For over 10 years, we have worked with over 900 companies to start them on their international digital journeys and with our business accelerator programmes we can help you do the same. If you are ready to futureproof your organisation, find out what you could gain from joining us on one of our accelerators.
In our next article in our series on B2B E-commerce, we will focus on the mistakes that companies always make on their route to digital transformation.
For further information and graphs from the McKinsey study, take a look at Slideshare (slide 9, 10, 11, 12, 13).