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More and more B2B companies are investing in a customer portal where they can offer a personalized shopping experience by using digital aids and customer information. However, some companies receive orders by phone and email and close new deals with the help of salespeople in the field.

Are you one of them? In that case, it may be worth considering a B2B portal to, among other things, meet new customer requirements and take advantage of several sales opportunities.

The new buying process places new demands

In the traditional B2B buying process, you always had contact with a salesperson. As a customer, when you had a business need, you looked for a seller to be informed about the different options available on the market before making your purchase decision.
 

"Today, more than 50% of the buying process is already done before a customer contacts a seller. - Forrester"

The buyer has first obtained information digitally. When the buyer feels ready, he contacts a seller. This change in buying behavior places greater demands on the product information that is available digitally.
 

3 pitfalls without a B2B portal

Today, more and more B2B buyers expect to be able to shop from anywhere and anytime. Therefore, it is easy for you to miss an opportunity to sell if you do not have the current product information around the clock. The three most common pitfalls in such a case are:
 
  • You are not available and miss the order when the customer wants to order
  • The customer becomes insecure about ordering when the product availability, price, and delivery time are not made available or updated
  • Geographical restrictions and specific opening hours prevent the customer from shopping from where and when he wants, and this uncertainty reduces sales

Millennials make new demands

Without a B2B portal, you will miss large parts of the entire buying process in the long run. The reason is that the buyer’s behavior has changed. Today, it is primarily millennials – ‘generation Y’ born between 1980–2001 - who have great purchasing power in B2B. Surveys show that millennials are here now, and they affect your business if you are not prepared.  
 

Here are a few trends identified from those surveys:

  • 73% of millennials are involved in purchasing products or services for their business
  • With a younger and more digital generation, the purchase price also becomes more digital, and purchasing decisions are more independent
  • Millennials first want to find out the information themselves and contact sellers much later during the purchase than previous generations
  • Millennials rely on independent experts, social media networks, and industry colleagues. So, if you want to win their trust, invest in credibility, openness, and empathy
  • Millennials wish to work with apps and portals and can act independently
  • Millennia have grown up in a rapidly changing world and with new technology constantly at hand. This has redrawn the map for what expectations and priorities we have for the world around us.
  • Millennials expect a first-class experience with intuitive, digital self-service options
 

Some figures that give perspective on millennials’ views on the B2B market:

 
  • 76% of buyers feel significantly more comfortable as decision-makers compared to five years ago
  • 83% of buyers report that technology keeps them more informed about product choices than ever before
  • Almost 60% of buyers say they will probably switch brands if their current one does not offer a user-friendly mobile experience
  • 79% of buyers indicate that salespeople must act as ‘reliable advisors,’ a role that can only be realized through the use of intelligent, digital e-commerce technologies
Generational change can be challenging, but it also provides ways to find new business opportunities and increase your business’s growth. If you want to maximize the business effects and secure your business’s future, you, as a B2B organization, must listen to what the younger generation wants. This applies to both your own business and that of your customers. Let the millennia guide you in the digital journey of change.
 

B2B portals are needed but require a change

Back to the question: Is it worth investing in a B2B portal to meet future buyers’ demands? The answer is, of course, ‘Yes.’
 
But first and foremost, you must decide when it is the right time for your business to begin your change journey. The next step will then be to prepare the organization well in advance for the change journey. If you are out too late, there is a risk that the organization does not have a standard view of what the change means for the company’s various departments and how it will affect the organization.
 
Where you start and how you proceed depends on several factors, such as your business model, customer needs, and existing digital infrastructure. We are happy to help you find the right way to secure the business’s future with a B2B portal.
 

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What your customers do not have is more time. Therefore, it is no wonder that self-service on the web is increasing in popularity. With a customer portal, you can increase sales, offer new services, and at the same time, streamline and reduce costs of customer service.
Something that amazes me as a marketeer is how difficult it is to transform your mindset from push to pull marketing – from shouting out what we want to sell and how great we are at it, to offering the target group something valuable every time they meet us – both offline and online.
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