Five concurrent strategies for omnichannel gold, from McKinsey & Company’s B2B Pulse report

McKinsey & Company’s new B2B Pulse report is out and shining a light on the near-complete consumerisation of B2B. Companies going all-in on omnichannel are growing their market share by over 10%. Buyer-power is talking with a clear and confident voice, while the winners’ circle is defined by five simultaneous areas of strategic omnichannel investment.

The B2C-ification of B2B is shifting the way B2B buyers are valuing their buying experiences. Trends born in 2019 and amplified during the pandemic are continuing their sustained momentum. Today, the B2B buyer wants to be able to purchase “everywhere, all at once, and all the time,” according to the report.

This change in behaviour is informed by a commitment to invest in and provide omnichannel experiences that rival the B2C experience. B2B marketers are cultivating a comfort with multiple channels that were previously avoided, and treating people who buy enterprise software solutions the same as people who buy lactose-free cheese with their supermarket loyalty points. They are all human, and conceivably, all want a personalised purchasing journey.

Let’s break down what concurrent omnichannel strategies McKinsey identify as elevating B2B winners above their contemporaries.

Hybrid sales are winning the race

Companies that are investing in hybrid sales teams and capabilities are seeing their investments pay off. McKinsey & Company’s report demonstrates the difference between winners and laggards, showing a 79% increase in market share between those who have decreased and increased their hybrid sale capabilities.

On the surface, this makes perfect sense from the B2B buyer’s perspective. Being able to interact with prospective solutions, products, or partners through a choice of mediums will broaden the conditions for interaction. It’s a process designed to give buyers autonomy, and the evidence shows they’re enjoying it.

Warp to hyper-personalisation

It used to be that hyper-personalised sales approaches were only for B2C. But those who oppose that belief are being rewarded. 59% of winners in the McKinsey & Company report utilised a data-driven approach to enact a direct or very personalised approach. Only 32% of laggards did the same. Analytics is helping organisations present their offering to buyers at the right time, in the right place. With predictive models, they’re even showing prospects what they might want to see before they even know themselves.

Investment in personalisation-enabling sales technology is helping B2B companies move to the front of their buyers’ minds and forms an essential part of successful omnichannel growth.

Innovative or stagnate

Advanced sales tool adoption is another strong predictor of success in the B2B market. 55% of market share winners plan to increase their investment in innovative sales technology to reduce customer churn. Automation is also on the rise, with 64% of winners making use of chatbots in their sales journey, and only 42% of laggards doing the same. It’s a fascinating adaptation, and one that winners will continue experimenting with in future.

The willingness to bet on advanced sales technology seems to be paying off. Winners in the B2B market are getting there with a mindset for fostering continuous improvement.

In the last year, B2B e-commerce has emerged as the single most effective sales channel.

Join the (third) party

Third-party marketplaces are becoming increasingly popular among B2B sellers and buyers alike. Industry-specific marketplaces are all the rage, with 48% of market share winners selling their services on them, while only 13% of laggards are doing the same. This speaks to a willingness from B2B marketers to be available to prospects wherever they’re looking, and for specificity to be a net gain when sourcing high quality leads.

E-commerce channels were once a touchy subject, with concerns about channel conflicts being loudest in the room. The benefits now outweigh the possible costs and could even spark a shift away from intermediary-dependent sales strategies.

Start your own(ed) marketplace

The final piece in the omnichannel jigsaw is the proliferation of owned marketplaces. An interesting finding from the report saw an 83% increase in the amount of B2B buyers willing to spend $10 million or more on a single e-commerce transaction. Despite this, 38% of respondents refuse to sell online outright, but those diving in are reaping the rewards of an increasingly motivated B2B buyer base.

In the last year, B2B e-commerce has emerged as the single most effective sales channel (35%), comfortably overtaking in-person sales (26%), video conferencing (12%), and telephone calls (8%). This has been met with an increased willingness to develop owned marketplaces too, with 50% of those surveyed saying they have already built or plan to build their own e-commerce marketplace. Expect those who have already done so to keep spending on refining their investment.

Winners are all-in

One thing is clear: In the battle for B2B superiority, those who are gaining the most market share are all-in on all five of the above strategies. There’s no testing the waters and waiting to see. The omnichannel approach only bears fruit when it’s implemented in its entirety.

This brings its own set of challenges. More channels mean more complexity, and that needs to be navigated successfully to execute your strategy as seamlessly as possible. Buyers must be able to transition across channels without the same information presented to them repeatedly, and each channel must run to the same high standard.

It’s an important lesson for those looking to pursue an omnichannel approach for the B2B offering. To succeed is to commit, and to commit is to strive for perfection.

A last word from the McKinsey & Company report: “For those companies still waiting to commit to the omnichannel present and future, the window of opportunity may be closing.”

If you haven’t started yet, what are you waiting for?