Business to business electronic commerce is by no means a new phenomenon; the use of internet and web technologies has gained much popularity over the recent years. Integration and linking of different organizational business processes has created ease of conducting businesses, promised reduction in time and cost savings as well as shaped new business opportunities. The many examples of business to business applications cover a broad range of sales and purchasing processes, industries and products and services.
Electronic data interchange allows the performance of a multitude of real time transactions, all these gives smaller businesses a realistic opportunity to join in and reap benefits enjoyed by their larger counterparts. In my view, to obtain value, investment in business to business to support selling processes is worthwhile and helps concerns to compete effectively in the market.
In the recent past, attention has shifted to internet-based electronic market places, the investments to form inter-organizational online market places is increasing, these market places provide opportunities for buyers and sellers to meet and exchange information about prices and products, service offerings as well as negotiating and carrying out business transactions. When selling organizations interface with a multitude of customers, they lock in the customers by providing a basis for comprehensive one-stop shopping cites. There are also offerings for business partners in different industries and business partnership helps in gaining competitive edge among different players in the industry.
One of the most important managerial considerations is the need to integrate or at least coordinate decisions in more than one distinct or autonomous organization: this is because the level of risk in relation to opportunity costs is higher within one firm than when different organizations or people work together, this points out to the need of outsourcing. In a one organizational setting, the adoption and use of one application has to be achieved through the use of a favorable business representation or other targeted strategies in order to overcome uncertainties and to benefit from economies of scale and scope. This in my view puts the organization at a point of need to include outside participation for proper coordination of flows (Blythe, 2005).
The prudent strategy would therefore be to use an external sales force since without prior experience on business to business outside sales, this duration will be limited for training. Adequate expertise is required for concentration on core competencies; outsourcing of business functions therefore ensures that an organization gets unique selling propositions hence intensifying business competition, if anything; the main objective of a going concern is to increase sales and get maximum returns by using the best strategies. Outsourcing arrangements also ensures more cooperative and integrated relationships hence partnerships are initiated based on an individual organizations unique state of affairs.
In implementing this scheme, a host of technological and business process issues will definitely follow in the wake of this decision of outsourcing the sales experts: in dealing with the technological issue, an electronic infrastructure will be required in order to communicate effectively with the partners. This will be done with the help of a team well assembled and managed.
Outsourcing will ensure services are offered at reasonable costs and at the best quality. The sales task force is in a better position to initiate sales transactions and deal with many other parties interested in buying and selling of goods and services, the sales team has complete control over the supportive information systems and provides consumers with the best platform for purchase and for other added value services.
Segmentation allows one to communicate to a group about subjects they will identify to be of interest and value to them, this approach identifies a relatively small number of subjects or external sales values for each segment and therefore, will greatly simplify personalization of my communication. It’s the process of determining the external sales values, which are built on common sets of unfulfilled needs, matched core competencies, and similar purchasing behavior, that drives segmentation and targets marketing.
The rational next step is to find the right way to communicate these values to the customer. Like many business to business marketers do, another strategy will be to focus on distribution channels including the use of direct catalogue sales in order to cut across industries and require product differentiation to remain competitive.
Understanding a customers purchasing behavior and identifying common needs and examining the ability to provide the same features is a process that if followed, would lead to stunning results and can see the total market potential flourish. The selling process also will need to be reexamined so as to ensure that key is to manage customer relationships and to focus on servicing in the whole sales and marketing process: this will lead to maintaining contacts of value which by extension results to customer loyalty.
Having done the overall cost-benefit analysis, the value of a sales representative has to be done on the grounds of attracting new business. The traditional roles of sales task force are fast changing to more of a consultant and problem solver and in my view, without sound experience in business to business engagements; a sales taskforce will find it challenging to deliver.
The sales force is the main driver in business to business marketing, its importance can not be underestimated as they need to develop and nurture contact channels. They are also supposed to identify strategic inflection points in order to meet the demands of the buyers. One form of business to business strategies emphasize on sales transactions, by using online capabilities, a firm can achieve greater efficiency in its selling and buying. By dealing with its corporate customers online, it’s able to build its computer systems and related products to meet their specific needs. This requires an extensive sales force and consultancy services to deliver value to these clients (Lowry, 2001).
Blythe, J (.2005) Business-to-business marketing management: a global perspective
Lowry, P.B. (2001) The e-business handbook CRC Press.