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How B2B Sales are Changing during COVID-19

Businesses are left with no other option than to go online by implementing an eCommerce solution that will help them not only to survive but also to grow.

Kevin Faulkner - Marketing Executive Written by Kevin Faulkner - Marketing Executive 12 Aug 2020 in B2B eCommerce

In The Past

Digitisation began in the late 1990s and again in the mid-2000s with the computerisation of businesses. The term ‘digital transformation’ was a phrase conceived in the mid to late 2010s when it became a popular trend.

The phrase was and still is used to describe the shift from manual to digital processes that was happening across many sectors including retail, wholesale and distribution.

ERP systems were now recognised as no longer only for the multinationals. These systems were gradually being adopted by smaller businesses across many diverse industry sectors.

SAP, Sage, and Intact saw massive growth in the adoption of their ERPs across the globe as businesses began to harness the power of automation and all the benefits that it brings.

Each part of a business being able to access the same repository of data was a revelation for B2B companies that had to manage large complex inventories.

These ERP systems could be extended to a company's B2B or B2C sales channels with integrated eCommerce. It provided smart sales automation driven from the ERP data.

Progressive companies sought to future-proof their business and embraced this growing eCommerce trend.

They implemented an ERP, launched an integrated eCommerce solution and began selling their products online with webshops and customer portals.

Around that time, many companies chose to resist the lure of digital transformation and continued to operate a more traditional business model.

In The Present

Fast forward to 2020, and a global pandemic forces many businesses to close with little or no warning. They are left facing an uncertain future and potential ruin.

The demand for online sales begins to grow as populations are locked down in order to quell the spread of the virus.

Businesses without an online or digital presence are left badly exposed and the race is on.

The need for digital transformation has now turned into a need for digital acceleration to meet customer demand in order to survive.

But thankfully, these lessons have been learned before.

It’s a case of history repeating as in 2003 the SARS outbreak in China caused the biggest boom in eCommerce the world has ever seen.

Alibaba’s B2B eCommerce business grew by 50% that year as registrations for its platform soared which proved opportunities can be found in a time of crisis.

So How are B2B Businesses Adapting?

To better understand how both customers and sellers are reacting, McKinsey & Company launched a survey of B2B businesses across 11 countries in seven sectors and across 14 categories of spend. Read the Report Here.

These findings reveal three emergent themes that they continue to track:


While companies are generally reducing spend, a sizable number are increasing or maintaining it, with rates depending on company size, sector, and—more than any other factor—location in the world.


Looking forward, B2B companies see digital interactions as two to three times more important to their customers than traditional sales interactions.


Almost 90 per cent of sales have moved to a videoconferencing(VC)/phone/web sales model, and while some scepticism remains, more than half believe this is equally or more effective than sales models used before COVID-19.

The insights from this survey can help sales leaders calibrate their responses and navigate their organizations through the phases of the COVID-19 response:

  • Navigating the current crisis with resolve and resilience
  • Planning for the recovery
  • Reimagining the next normal

There is still a great deal of uncertainty, but they are seeing plenty of signals that indicate an acceleration of previous trends such as:

  • Omnichannel selling
  • Inside sales
  • Tech-enabled selling
  • eCommerce

Credit Source: Mckinsey & Company - Click here for the original article.