When thinking of e-commerce, some people may only think about business-to-consumer (B2C) sales. However, business-to-business (B2B) sales have huge potential online too.
The internet is a great place for businesses to connect with leads, potential customers, and other businesses. In addition to connecting with people, you can also nurture them and turn them into converting customers.
It doesn’t matter what you sell — any B2B business can have huge success converting leads online.
We’re here to help you understand the B2B buying process and the global B2B market. We’ll also teach you seven ways to identify, nurture, and convert B2B customers online, and how to use Alibaba.com, the world’s largest online marketplace, to do it.
Once you’re finished reading this article, you’ll be ready to open a seller account, start finding B2B leads, and nurture them into high-value, repeat customers!
Table of Contents
The B2B buying process looks a little different from the B2C buying process. B2B customers are often highly educated on the products they shop for. They are savvy shoppers who are typically looking for the best price, the best service, or the best quality.
B2B shoppers will start by exploring their options and researching the products they are looking to buy. They will often contact the suppliers ahead of time to ask questions about minimum order quantity (MOQ), production logistics, shipping processes, and more.
Once a B2B shopper connects with a supplier business, they become a lead. A lead is an individual or business with an interest in your products.1 Once someone becomes a lead, it’s your job to nurture them until they become a customer.
Through sales processes, customer service, and effective communication, you can influence a lead into converting. In this stage, you will negotiate the price, share product specs, and finalize all aspects of the sale.
Once the sale is made and the B2B lead has been converted into a customer, it’s now time to do it all over again.
The B2B global e-commerce market is huge, and is growing larger. Currently, the business-to-business e-commerce market is worth US $7.35 trillion globally. It’s expected to be worth US $18.57 trillion by 2026.2 With a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.7%, this is a fantastic time to get yourself involved.
There are a few key driving forces behind this expected market growth.
Many B2B suppliers who have operated offline in the past are slowly beginning to activate e-commerce sales channels. Most suppliers will sell from their websites and digital storefronts or online marketplaces, such as Alibaba.com.
People also have more access to B2B shopping sites than ever before, thanks to smartphones, laptops, and other portable devices. Business representatives no longer need to travel or meet in person. B2B sales can happen over email, video call, and even text message!
The internet makes it much easier for businesses to connect. Through internet connections, businesses are able to create new partnerships and foster old ones that benefit both parties. In fact, 59% of consumers prefer to shop online rather than in person.
The world’s population is growing. This simply means more people will buy and sell more stuff! Population affects world trade through economic growth, labor force growth, and consumer growth.
New business models are popping up all over the world. For example, private label businesses are manufacturers who package their products under retailers' names instead of their own. Direct-to-consumer businesses have never been more popular. These new business models are helping to increase the global B2B e-commerce market.
Now that you know how B2B sales work and how profitable the industry is, it’s time to use this knowledge to increase your B2B customers online.
We’ve made a list of seven ways to identify your consumers, nurture them, and convert them into customers. Follow these steps and you’ll have a successful online B2B business in no time!
First and foremost, you should use an omnichannel approach in your B2B sales strategy.
An omnichannel approach is a multichannel approach that aims to provide your shoppers with a seamless shopping experience. Conducting sales this way makes your customer’s journey much more accessible, which is particularly important to younger buyers.
Marketing to your clients via email is a great way to get customers to visit your website. And once they’re on your site, make sure your website is informative and easy to navigate. If you then encourage your shoppers to connect with you on social media, that’s another channel for you to nurture them through.
Using multiple channels can help you identify and nurture more customers to help them get to know your business.
To grow any business, you’ll need a sales team. This is no different for B2B sales.
A dedicated B2B sales team will help your business reach new leads and potential customers. These are expert professionals who are well-trained in sales from a B2B perspective.
You can choose whether you’d rather work with an agency or rep group for your B2B sales, or if you’d rather hire an in-house sales team.
Both can help guide your customers through their shopping journey and lead them to conversion. However, one is likely better for your business. If you’d rather have more control over your sales team, an in-house team should be your choice. If you want top professionals, consider a rep group.
There are plenty of resources to help you develop your sales strategy. However, you’ll want to make sure it’s personalized and specific to your business.
Your B2B sales team should help you develop this strategy, and the strategy should be centered around your customers.
First, you need to understand your customers' pain points and problems. Then, you should create your sales strategy to display how your product is a solution.
Your marketing strategy should also be influenced by your sales strategy. Be sure that your marketing team knows about customer pain points and how your product solves them.
There are plenty of B2B marketplaces online, like Alibaba.com. Making your business available on these B2B channels helps with customer satisfaction and customer trust. For example, if a B2B shopper is familiar with Alibaba.com, they will be happy to conduct business through this channel.
Making it easy for shoppers to make purchases will give your B2B sales a higher chance of conversion. Plus, most B2B digital marketplaces provide great value for both shoppers and sellers. With protection measures, helpful resources, and effective features, you can increase your customers' satisfaction easily.
Another great way to increase your conversion rate is by offering flexible payment terms.
Many businesses expect payment terms that require payment to be due 30, 45, or 60 days after ordering. This gives B2B customers time to make sales and generate a profit before they pay you.
Offering flexible payment terms shows that you trust your products and your customers.
A major mistake B2B suppliers can make is having high minimum order quantities (MOQ) or high minimum order values (MOV).
Your B2B customers may be in the start-up phase, have low capital, or may not have tried your products before. Perhaps they want to test your business before they place a large order.
Offering customers a low first-order MOQ or MOV is a great way to build a strong relationship with a new customer. Then, once they have received their first order and are wowed by your products, they’ll order again with a larger MOQ or MOV.
If you can offer this, you’re sure to have new customers turn into repeat customers.
Automation is the way of the future. If you’re not automating processes in your business, you’re behind the times!
The B2B sales process is great to automate as it can be time-consuming. Buyers average a time frame of one to six months between identifying a problem and paying for a solution.
Instead of following manual processes and waiting on your customer, automate your B2B sales process. This will increase your work efficiency and your lead conversion rate.
Online marketplaces will help you find new customers, develop your lead nurturing process, and improve your B2B customer relationships.
There are a ton of benefits to selling on Alibaba.com, including:
Simply open a seller account, post your products, and develop your storefront. Once you're set up, then you can begin nurturing leads and turning them into customers!