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B2B Sales: How To Create Sticky B2B Relationships with Buyers

Learn how procurement digitization and ​​eCommerce integration help B2B sales by enhancing the buyer journey and creating sticky buyer relationships.

blog8-11.pngIt has never been easier for B2B buyers to switch suppliers. Once upon a time, B2B suppliers controlled the flow of product information, and it was difficult for buyers to move without disrupting their business. Moving to a new supplier wasn’t impossible, but the barrier was high enough that buyers were often content to stick with imperfect suppliers.

Today’s B2B sales space is different. B2B suppliers no longer control the information flow. Research by Gartner shows that sellers have little opportunity to influence buyer decisions, most of which are based on independent online and offline research. Buyers are less willing to meet sales reps because they no longer rely on them for product and pricing information. Furthermore, they don’t want to rely on reps, with many preferring self-serve digital sales channels to relationships in which reps act as gatekeepers.

So how can B2B sellers reduce churn and create sticky relationships in 2021? The answer is not to stubbornly adhere to the old ways, but to collaborate with buyers to develop streamlined procurement processes. 

According to Gartner, 77% of customers say that buying is complex or difficult. Challenging procurement experiences create churn as buyers seek streamlined, cost-efficient alternatives. That fact gives proactive suppliers an opportunity to build streamlined buyer journeys that support long-lasting and robust buyer relationships.

What Is a Sticky Buyer and Is Stickiness the Same as Buyer Loyalty?

A sticky B2B buyer continues to buy from your business because they find the products valuable or the procurement process convenient. Stickiness is not the same as buyer loyalty, although some use the terms interchangeably. Loyalty depends on a long-term relationship that becomes somewhat immune to transactional factors. A loyal customer may continue to buy even though they could source products for less elsewhere because they trust you and your team.

In contrast, a sticky B2B buyer is concerned with transactional factors. They may switch to another supplier in the right circumstances, but they choose to buy from your business because it provides value and convenience. To create sticky buyers, give them a strong incentive to continue the current relationship.

4 Ways To Build Sticky Relationships

Building sticky B2B relationships helps your business in two main ways. First, it reduces churn, which in turn reduces buyer acquisition costs. Second, sticky buyers are far more likely to turn into loyal buyers in the future.

The key to creating sticky buyer relationships is to give buyers what they want: a fast, simple, automated B2B buying journey built on modern digital technology, including self-serve eCommerce that integrates with their eProcurement or ERP system.

Let’s look at four factors that influence customer stickiness.

  1. Comprehensive product information. Buyers want up-to-date, accurate product information, including personalized pricing information with negotiated bulk-buy discounts. They want to access this information online without having to consult a sales rep.
  2. Easy and convenient purchasing. Buyers should be able to create, approve, and send orders quickly and easily. Your catalog software should integrate with their eProcurement platform to minimize manual data entry.
  3. An accelerated purchase cycle. Buyers prefer to work with suppliers who can quickly process orders and deliver products. The more reliable and responsive a supplier is, the more sticky the buyer relationship is likely to be.
  4. Reduced transaction costs. Buyers are interested in reducing procurement costs, not only by sourcing products for less but also by improving procurement efficiency. Often, that means eliminating expensive manual work, automating the flow of data between buyer and supplier, and ensuring that transaction data is available for analysis.

As you can see, digital sales, integration, and automation are key to creating a sticky procure-to-pay experience.

How Integration and Automation Create Sticky B2B Buyers

By integrating your eCommerce store with buyers’ eProcurement or ERP platforms, you open the door to a range of procurement automation features that include:

Together, these features create a streamlined eCommerce-based B2B buying journey. Buyers can access preferred Suppliers’ eCommerce stores within their eProcurement platform, build a shopping cart,  and have the cart details automatically transferred to their eProcurement system where a purchase requisition is created. Once approved, a purchase order is automatically generated and sent to the supplier’s order management system to await fulfillment. With the addition of electronic invoicing, the entire purchasing cycle is automated and accelerated, eliminating manual data entry.

This level of procurement automation was once prohibitively expensive, requiring custom development work to integrate each buyer. But, with the PunchOut2Go Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS), integration and automation are fast and inexpensive. The iPaaS supports all eCommerce and eProcurement platforms, translating between incompatible data protocols and formats, empowering B2B suppliers to offer the superior procurement experience buyers expect.

To learn more about how PunchOut2Go helps B2B suppliers to build sticky buyer relationships, complete the form below, and a B2B integration specialist will contact you soon.

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