During these crisis times companies are thinking the unthinkable. They are scrabbling to fix problems they have never faced before, applying ideas they only just dreamt up.. then executing at speed, and often at scale. They need touch-less tech solutions, brand logo’d face masks, perspex sheet protective screens, eCommerce friendly product packaging, unusual business insurance cover, video backgrounds for homeworkers, more air freight capacity… the list goes on and on. Some are accelerating R&D to bring whole new product categories to market faster. So if you are in a B2B business here is something I can be fairly confident of:
Customers you have never met, from places you have never heard of, are wondering if you can supply what they need.
But what happens when their frenzied online searches chance upon your corporate website? Too often, the sad truth is, they click a few times, give up and move on.
One of the joys and privileges of being a Gartner analyst is the sheer range of industries we serve. Before every client inquiry call I take, I search for and click through to the company website. Often I find myself trying to quickly assimilate a speciality industrial B2B product category that I have never thought about before. Sometimes I didn’t even know it existed. That puts me in the same position as a desperate COO or general manager, spending his or her evening searching the internet for a supplier of a possible solution to a novel problem that surfaced last week. Imagine what happens when that tired, distracted, bleary eyed person hits your site for the first time.
- Yes.. I could call you on the phone, if the number is right there where I can see it (often it isn’t). But will I remember tomorrow, from my distant timezone, when the next crisis steals my focus?
- Maybe.. I could contact my local distributor – if your website made it easy and obvious who that is.
- Possibly.. I would continue my interest – if I could be sure you sell in my country.
- Perhaps.. I’d be prepared to start the ordering process right now – if I could work out whether you sell direct.
Here’s the horrible reality of many, perhaps most, B2B company websites. They do not quickly answer the simplest and most important of all questions – HOW CAN I BUY YOUR STUFF?
Your values? – sure. “About us”- check. Press releases – of course. Recent industry awards.. technical product enhancements only specialist cognoscenti can comprehend.. even spec. sheets. These things and more crowd B2B websites. But they assume that I’m an industry insider and that I care. But maybe I’m not and maybe I don’t.
I’m the new customer that you’ve never heard of or thought about. I’m the one who might have ended up giving you a massive order that would fix your revenue shortfall for the rest of 2020. But I have no idea how to buy from you.. I lost interest and I moved on.
The analyst writing this is not a design thinking specialist, or an experienced marketing agency website designer, or a B2B sales expert. So maybe this thought is a bit simple, but indulge me for a moment.
Would it be such a bad idea to have a prominent top-level link on your B2B company website homepage called “how to buy from us”..
.. leading to a simple information page on how you sell – with the three to five main options, and the quickest paths to those?
Oh for sure.. there are sensitivities. Who gets listed, in what order matters. Trade relationships are delicate – I get it. But these are crisis times. During emergencies there tends to be more forgiveness and maybe this is the right time to start reasserting your control over those issues anyway. If you try it tomorrow, and it causes agitation, you can pull it down again the day after right? That is the beauty of online – it is very adaptable in a crisis.