March 19 by Eric Dreshfield
The B2B business world has changed forever. With a multitude of low-cost competitors emerging in almost every vertical and new businesses with innovative revenue models competing for long-term buyer relationships, business buyers are in the driver’s seat.
This market shift, accompanied by advancements in technology, has enabled a variety of new sales and delivery options, which make it possible for buyers to browse, buy, and pay for a variety of products and services through multiple channels and modalities with agility and ease.
In this landscape, it’s no longer enough to have the best product or the lowest price. You must also be agile and easy to do business with throughout the entire customer lifecycle. Buyers don’t just expect purchasing to be fast, easy, and on their timetable—they also expect to be able to easily make updates, extend, renew and reorder—all without having to renegotiate their contract. Customers expect orders to be fulfilled, digital services to be provisioned, professional services/milestone services to be meet expectations, and invoices to be accurate.
They want to get what they pay for, and pay for what they get. If customers need to update a billing address, add or remove a new product or user to a contract, respond to new payment terms, or check on a delivery status, the expectation is that the interaction is hassle-free, regardless of whether it’s done through a sales rep, channel partner, or website—whether it’s their first purchase or their 100th. In today’s digitally-connected world, this means offering a self-service buying and account maintenance option is essential for your customers and partners.
For most businesses, delivering this level of digital engagement and operational excellence is a challenge. Managing a connected customer experience through a lifetime of purchasing from initial order through updates, extensions and renewal requires flawless orchestration, which is particularly difficult when selling a complex mix of physical products, digital goods like software, and services, which require billing against a variety of financial models and billing schedules.
As a result, savvy businesses are adopting new systems and processes that give them the agility to respond to changing customer needs, manage complex renewals for multiple product types, and support a variety of billing schedules all in one place.