What are your best B2B sales channels

22 brand new trends in B2B sales

Trend researcher and futurologist and management consultant Ulrich Eggert predicts that in the future thinking will not run from production to customer, but from customer to production and thus to the sales department of the suppliers.

He does not see B2B sales as being characterized by great uniformity. He divides it into two fundamentally different markets

  • Sales of the consumer goods industry to the consumer goods trade or even across the board to the end consumer
  • Distribution of capital and / or industrial durables and consumer goods as well as services from suppliers to users, either directly or indirectly via sales intermediaries such as wholesalers (the latter case also known as "industrial B2B (PVH)")

For these two relatively different markets, Ulrich Eggert notes that since the introduction of the Internet, especially in recent years, developments in consumer goods-oriented sales have increasingly served as a model for newer developments in classic B2B through to retail trade.

According to Eggert, due to the special situation of Germany as an export nation - strong internationalization and integration into the EU - globalization is taking hold in both markets, and thus diverse geopolitical trends that are reflected in global economic trends. Issues such as energy shortages and price increases for raw materials, international division of labor, shifting financial forces to Asia or the emergence of new, extremely strong competitors in these regions play a role here.

Ulrich Eggert believes that the German position in the international network can be maintained or even strengthened - on the one hand through permanent innovations and on the other hand through the expansion of global cooperation in sales. A decisive accompanying aspect is price stability on the one hand, combined with currency stability on the other. The high wage situation in Germany therefore means that a constant revision of one's own cost items has a say in the future of all sales efforts.

Irrespective of the international integration of German companies and the development in these markets, Ulrich Eggert Consulting.Köln defines the following key trends for the next few years in its study "B2B sales trends":

Trend 1: Creativity and a culture of innovation are moving even more to the fore

The tough competitive situation in all markets means that only those companies are successful in their sales that build up a continuous flow of innovation. This requires your own research and creativity, but open innovation is also becoming increasingly important.

Trend 2: The relationship between supplier and customer is reversing

The customer can choose the suppliers and that is why he will actually be the focus of all efforts in the future. H. from the back to be rebuilt.

Trend 3: The price competition remains fierce, but it is supplemented and partly replaced by a concept and format competition

Rounds of price increases are becoming increasingly rare. The winner will be the one in the market who has developed the better concept, the better sales format, namely formats that prefer or focus on the customer.

Trend 4: The primacy of strategy

The focus is no longer on the product, but on the strategy of satisfying the customer's wishes. This requires differentiated corporate planning, including controlling, in order to be able to align or redefine the company's core competencies to the customers.

Trend 5: "New" sales concepts are pushing forward

The Internet was invented a good 20 years ago, but it had no meaning. 10 years ago it was an important success, today it is indispensable. But the topic of the Internet is not uniform; it enables an infinite number of different sales concepts. New sales are not only defined by the Internet, but also by cooperative approaches, verticalization, virtualization, etc. New processes such as 3D printing bring completely new aspects to the market for individual markets: It is not the products that are sold, but the licenses to be able to manufacture the products themselves.

Trend 6: The primacy of finance

Finances play a role everywhere - also in sales! The last financial crisis showed that only those companies survive that adopt healthy financial conduct.

Trend 7: Primat III - cost optimization and e-business

Optimal finances can only be built up through an optimal cost position. One way to get there is through rationalization and the other is e-business with optimized IT. All company processes have to be recorded and designed electronically and the entire supply chain - from the sub-suppliers to the customers - mapped.

Trend 8: logistics optimization

The movement of goods logically plays a major role in sales. But logistics is more: it also includes inventory management and thus the recognition of strengths and weaknesses. In the future, RFID technology will play an ever greater role for fast and, above all, error-free recording and, associated with this, the possibility of setting up fully automated sales processes. Another crucial aspect in the context of logistics optimization is contract logistics and the associated outsourcing of various business processes to third parties, namely logistics companies, in order to relieve the companies through outsourcing.

Trend 9: Green Business

No company can do without corporate social responsibility, compliance and corporate governance in the future: sustainability in every respect is the order of the day!

Trend 10: Cooperation & strategic alliances on the advance - also in sales

Those who work alone need enormous strength. Those who refrain from cooperations are foregoing income. Horizontal sales cooperation brings better utilization of the teams, reduces the risks, especially in international business.

Trend 11: verticalization and system formation

That is the other side of the cooperation, namely economic level cooperation - on the one hand in the direction of upstream suppliers for procurement, on the other hand in sales towards the customers. In the consumer goods sector, it is primarily space partnerships in which the suppliers rent the retail space and thus rush forward. But it is also about commission, consignment and above all about the joint coordination of what is offered to customers. Verticalization usually results in the formation of vertical sales systems such as franchises and similar models.

Trend 12: Sales coordination through contracts

Trade marketing models, i.e. loose cooperation agreements, have usually had their day. The agreement reached will in future be increasingly chiseled into contracts such as franchise, agency, depot, commission, license contracts, etc. Functional outsourcing contracts are gaining momentum.

Trend 13: E-Commerce - the growth engine

The Internet forms the basis for a variety of new forms of electronic distribution. Own electronic shops, but also the use of electronic marketplaces, etc. will be more and more in the foreground in the future. Mobile business and multi-channel approaches are coming to the fore, and cross-selling will have to become part of corporate cultures.

Trend 14: From customer orientation to customer loyalty

The exhaustion of existing customers is cheaper than the acquisition of new customers - only in the long term it is not possible without acquiring new customers. Customer relationship management is becoming more and more important and the internet offers new approaches through social media.

Trend 15: Social Marketing / Social Media

What has long been true in the end-consumer business is increasingly having an impact on the B2B business. Twitter and Facebook are less in the foreground than the company's own activities on their websites through the provision of comprehensive information, through discussion forums, through permanent information about new developments, application videos, blogs, etc.

Trend 16: After Sales Marketing

Especially in B2B business, customer care after the purchase is a crucial prerequisite for the customer to buy again. Visits, phone calls, but above all social media initiatives (see above) play a decisive role in this.

Trend 17: Problem solving through services

IBM is developing from a hardware manufacturer to an almost complete, exclusive software provider; machine tool manufacturers often make more than a third of total sales with maintenance and care. In the future, customers will also expect services, information, advice and after-sales services in addition to goods in B2B business - yes, especially there. The financing of the delivered goods through leasing or factoring is becoming more and more important: It is more and more about using instead of owning.

Trend 18: Differentiation and segmentation

No customer is the same, he wants to be addressed and served individually. So it is necessary to form increasingly segmented clusters and to process them in a differentiated manner in order not to let the costs run into infinity.

Trend 19: emotionalization

The human being is an emotional being - also the buyer in B2B business, like his counterpart, the seller. Everything that happens in B2B business is by no means rational. Emotions are increasingly coming to the fore - this does not only apply to the consumer goods business.

Trend 20: employee orientation

Sales is a personal business, as mentioned in the aforementioned trend. Only in rare cases do the computers do the business - the employees will continue to play the decisive role in the future. Your leadership and motivation are crucial aspects for sales success.

Trend 21: brands

Almost nothing works without brands: They are the anchor of profiling in the competition. For suppliers - especially wholesalers - it's not just about the brand of their products, but also about corporate branding, i.e. the company as a brand. The company as a brand rubs off on the product brands and facilitates global business. Brands allow brand and marketing cooperations and this in turn results in cost advantages in competition. They facilitate market access, but are barriers to entry for competition.

Trend 22: Virtual corporate management as a network-managed brand

More and more companies are withdrawing from production and even sales - they just form “BRAND”. This means that they largely forego investments in material goods, they invest in their ideas and marketing and let third parties take over a wide range of tasks such as production and sales in order to put their core competencies in the foreground. A network of diverse partners forms the overall concept; a partner who doesn't work can be exchanged for the whole without any problems.

A total of 50 trends

These are just some of the more than 50 trends and strategic developments that are shown in the study “B2B sales trends” by Ulrich Eggert Consulting.Köln. In summary, Ulrich Eggert sums up these trends as follows: “A constant innovation process must be built on the basis of healthy financing. Brands certify the core competence of the supplier to the customer, who serves the markets cooperatively and cost-effectively and controls a vertical alliance from the supplier to the customer using modern media in multi-channel sales. "

Source:Ulrich Eggert Consulting, Cologne, www.ulricheggert.de. You can order the complete study (approx. 600 pages) there for from 685 euros.