The stakes are high for B2B eCommerce sites. Business buyers might only self-serve for smaller items such as accessories or spare parts, however as part of a larger account, their experience can impact a much more significant revenue stream.
This is a critical step in your company's evolution, and you only get one chance to make a first impression. So hire the right people to get the job done properly. Expect to invest between $50,000 and $100,000 and a 12-week timeline for these diverse skills to come together and create a professional sales and marketing channel that works hard to return a profitable income for many years to come.
Here are the seven critical skills we believe are must-haves:
1. Strategic Planner. You are essentially opening up a whole new sales and marketing channel. Plan it strategically with your teams in operations, finance, channel management, product marketing, and any partners it may impact. This is a company-wide initiative. Do this with the guidance and advice of a qualified external marketing professional who brings real-world experience managing products, communications, pricing, channels and internal stakeholders - as well as B2B eCommerce sites of course.
2. UX Designer. Visitors will make a decision about your company within a second of arriving at your site. Get off to a good start with a UX designer capable of creating brilliance in terms of brand application, site look and feel, navigation, visitor journey, call to action engagement points and eCommerce based design. Invest properly in this space too. A poor job here can negatively impact years of brand building, and thereby reduce perceived value, pricing elasticity, and create some very unhappy sales people managing the account as a whole.
4. Digital Marketer. With nearly all your buyers online during their buying journey, a great digital marketer is now worth their weight in gold - well at least as much as many great sales people combined. So get one on board who knows the B2B space, and understands how to leverage search, pay per click advertising, LinkedIn Social Selling, inbound and content marketing, and a whole lot more to generate digital engagement, qualified leads, and now actual online transactions in a business-buying context.
5. Copywriter. Your product descriptions need to do more than inform - they need to sell. That's because your online business buyers are making purchase decisions often without talking to a human inside your organisation. So don't underestimate this skill. We suggest you no longer leave it to a product manager alone as this often results in copy that comes from a product perspective and lacks sales argument or the buyer's perspective. It also needs to be written to optimise search performance which demands specialist SEO knowledge too.
6. Photographer. Does great photography add to the appeal of products you buy online? Of course, it does. The same goes for your business buyers. So don't fall into the trap of using an internal snappy on an iPhone by a staff member. Invest at least in a designer who can make your images look great (and consistent) or better still, engage a photographer and get it done professionally first time for a market leading impression.
7. Testers. Make sure everything works perfectly. Get every person and their dog to test the eCommerce site every which way before you launch. There are many moving parts to a B2B eCommerce site from promotional activity through the site itself as well as invoicing processes, return processes, integration with the operation and logistics of your organisation and more. Create a glitch-fee experience from day one.
OK that's it. Whether you hire these skills in-house or engage an agency such as ours to help you deliver and make the most of this opportunity is up to you. Either way, just make sure you get all the specialist skills on board - and watch your business grow as you reduce the cost of sale for years into the future. What a great investment.