Volume used to be the defining characteristic of more business-to-business(B2B) sales in the ICT market. Yet, while a lot of traction is behind the idea of customer-centric business-to-consumer (B2C) trends, those concepts are increasingly more relevant to B2B buyers.
Research from service giant Salesforce reveals that B2B buyers anticipate and demand customer-centric features, such as personalisation, omnichannel and other retail features. Specifically, more B2B buyers expect an Amazon-like experience than B2C customers do.
“What we are seeing is that some of those big corporates aren’t focusing as hard on the volume play,” said Rory Twort, managing executive of Sales at Axiz. “They are focusing more into the enterprise and value-added play, which could include the hardware on the data stack, and in the context around managing this. And then the more sophisticated ones are having cloud storage discussions.”
Twort said the findings give a hint as to how the B2B market is changing.
“As the Amazon comment reveals, a lot of the above sentiment is being driven through e-commerce,” he said. “This speaks to the current space volume sales find themselves in.”
He added that volume transactions are not going away, but they now operate in a more competitive market. Buyers are more sophisticated in their expectations. Volume is now part of a larger conversation, and the large enterprises that typically support volume transactions are exercising their choice in other areas as well.
“The blend of value add and relationship is essential, especially in our role as a distributor,” Twort explained. “In the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) market, it’s certainly about price and product. But in the value-add space, you need that level of trust around the technical skills. So you need to be a little bit more involved with a personal touch.”
He noted that here many resellers have a problem. “The market is incredibly competitive. Resellers struggle to access the right skills and capabilities to help them hold those value discussions or configure solutions,” Twort stated.
For this reason, remarked Twort, many rely on distributors to help.
“What is a distributor? Well, it’s a logistical bank with technical capacity. It can work with vendors of specific products. Not every customer is in the same place, but everyone now has to provide value and relationships as key parts of their sales offerings. A distributor must be able to provide that,” he said.