Thanks to the cloud, today’s online buyer has more exposure to information. Some studies estimate each of us are exposed to more than 3,000 brand impressions a day… and that is only being matched by a shorter attention span.
Potential customers no longer want, nor expect, a long, drawn-out sales process where discovery, education, comparing, payment, and deployment, as well as retention come in distinct waves. For today’s buyer, if any of those steps are visibly disconnected or misaligned with their individual needs, a deal can be ruined completely.
That new sales paradigm has demanded a rethinking of how sales and marketing platforms talk to and work with each other to address buyers in a B2Individual (B2I) world and not just the “consumer” or “business.” No longer can a business look at commerce and marketing as separate cycles that only touch at the very ends of their respective processes. Such a separation creates more opportunity for issues to arise that cause inefficiency and confusion on the vendor-side and leave a bad taste on the buyer-side. And why would you add an extra layer to a process that technology can eliminate?
Let’s look at three key ways to make the online sales experience as streamlined and impactful to the individual as possible.
Addressing Needs, Not Waiting for Them
Now, businesses can use various channels, both direct and indirectly managed, to get their wares in front of buyers more frequently and consistently. Technology has changed channels from being seen as just an opportunity to increase reach to integral pieces of the sales equation. For all intents and purposes, channels today are nearly the same as their direct counterparts, but able to get to the specific markets a vendor cannot easily reach or service.
These new channels can be anything from an online reseller, mobile application, to a live-chat support person—anywhere that the individual touches your business. This array of channels that blur the traditional sales model means that more holistic analysis of the customer is necessary. Every point at which a customer engages, discovers, learns, and uses your service is an opportunity for them to make further purchasing decisions on your products and services—whether that’s to buy something, upgrade from a trial, or just sign-up for a freemium version. That means that, as a customer uses your products, it’s easy for them to add-on capabilities at the point of need. Even the more “mundane” of channels, like outbound emails, sales engagement, and support channels matter in this “transact anywhere” world.
Going With the Flow
Software buyers today are no longer satisfied with a “one size fits all” way to pay, and with increasing number of alternatives to both your product as well its pricing and packaging, buyers have plenty of choices in how they would like to pay now as well. Having the ability to offer a product on a fractional ownership, rental, subscription, or even plain old pay-upfront has become a core part of the value of your solution to your customers. Enabling these various business models requires a holistic, commerce analysis of your key customer segments’ requirements.
Additionally, customers no longer want to spend their money in the same ways as their peers either. Whereas before they had to succumb to the business models promoted by the vendor, taking a holistic approach and looking at commerce as a whole has allowed for businesses to quickly experiment with and customize their models to best suit the needs of increasingly fragmented sets of buyers. Along with increasingly individualized payment models, vendors have to increasingly expand from the traditional “consumer” or “business” methods of payment such as credit card or via purchase orders to payment approaches that increasingly overlap across both, such deferred payments, bank transfers, and other payment options.
Building Relationships Globally
The online world has not only exposed vendors to the global stage of competition but also leveled the field for reaching global prospects and customers. That means if you are not selling global right from the get go, you are already losing share as ideas and product concepts are rapidly replicated worldwide. You may be thinking right now, “How can I tailor to the individual wants of global customers when I’ve only just launched with a sole focus in the US?” The answer is your holistic commerce solution becoming an invaluable extension to your marketing and engagement efforts.
Rather than walking into a new market with a “we will just figure how best to sell here” attitude, vendors can use the localization, distribution, and reseller capabilities of a holistic commerce solution to enter the market with the ability to reach and personalize to the unique needs of that local audience. Even as a vendor focused on one market, but with some international customers, a global commerce solution can drive the same individual-focus regardless of location. That is important because, rather than sending customers the same emails with the wrong currency, taxes, and URLs, their channels can be localized and tailored automatically.
As to the points above, the traditional silos isolating marketing from sales cannot support today’s more inundated buyer. Having a two-part process with its requisite sets of systems and integration points is too slow, too clunky and too risky. That is why integrating the knowledge of these two functions into a holistic act of commerce is crucial.
Customers want more engagement, but they want that executed in a way that is highly personalized with other options for self-servicing, as well as assisted service to buy when and how they want. So, get on the same wavelength as your buyers and start thinking about ways to do commerce. Your customers will thank you for it.