The B2B sales process can be long and arduous, and the amount of effort it requires to convert leads into customers does not appear to be going down anytime soon.
In fact, a recent survey conducted by Crain's BtoB Magazine and B2B marketing company Bizo found that the sales cycle in B2B transactions has lengthened. While traditional sales in this space may have included a call or two followed by a demo and in-person transaction, the addition of the online element has introduced numerous new channels and have made the process convoluted.
Bob Felsenthal, VP and publisher at Crain's BtoB Magazine, commented on the results in a press release and indicated that while technology has helped the process in numerous ways, it has also increased the need for marketers and sales associates to adjust the way they do business.
"The survey results reaffirm that most B2B marketers still need to improve their online marketing mix to meet the needs of the sales pipeline, as over half stated," Felsenthal said. "However, the report also confirms that technology continues to improve the ability to identify the right buyers and measure the results of marketing initiatives."
So how do payments factor into this?
The increasingly high competition in the online marketplace is having a major effect on organizations in the B2B sector. More procurement specialists have ditched traditional means of obtaining new products and services in order to search online. The reason it's taking so long for B2B companies to close deals is because prospects have so many options at their disposal now. Vendors have to differentiate themselves from their competitors, and the best way they can do that is through payment processing.
Obtaining payment solutions to ensure the security of customer information is crucial. PCI compliance is essential and companies that fail to follow payment security standards are going to have an even harder time attracting customers. A procurement specialist is always going to have the security of their company's information as a top priority, so if they find three similar vendors online and only one is PCI compliant that's the organization they will likely buy from.
Obtaining a tokenization solution is ideal and will help an online organization with its marketing efforts because it will show prospects that they have customer data security in their best interests. By storing information offsite, businesses can guarantee that sensitive information will be protected from targeted attacks, which will speed up the process by quickly alleviating any security concerns.
Following a long sales process, vendors must help themselves as well. By accepting purchasing cards, they can expedite the payment process and ensure transactions are finalized quickly. This will help after a long sales procedure because once a deal does go through, both parties will want to receive their product and their cash as soon as possible. However, these kinds of cards tend to cost more to process, so obtaining payment solutions designed to reduce transaction fees is important. Implementing a system that can process Level 3 data with line item detail will speed up payments, but it will also help the vendor because it will guarantee they pay the lowest possible interchange rate.