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B2B E-commerce vs Sales Rep

Business is increasingly facing the daunting task of keeping up with a multitude of disruptive trends. Companies adopt the wise pivot model when facing disruption models, which in short means, they adopt new technologies and scale them, while growing the core business by maintaining their conventional methods, systems and other applicable nuances.

In the Business-to-Business (B2B) world, one of the most debated topics always remain e-commerce. Although e-commerce can wear many hats and look different for every organisation that switches on this sales channel, it is still a feared channel for especially distributors and manufacturers. Channel business can be very unforgiving, and often strong-arm suppliers into refraining from selling via an online channel.

Considering the wise pivot principle however, can companies ignore the disruption that e-commerce brings with it? The answer is no. To be objective on this topic, one has to look at some statistics based on companies that have ventured down this road successfully.

For the purpose of illustration, we will consider B2B e-commerce as the disrupter and the B2B Sales Representative as the core or conventional channel of doing sales. In a recent survey (2018) done by Forrester, the following statistics were concluded:

  • The relative convenience of e-commerce over sales reps for B2B buyer amounted to an astounding 70% vs 30%
  • Buyers that prefer self-service e-commerce over being reliant on sales representatives grew from 59% in 2015 to 67% in 2018
  • Buyers that preferred doing research and gathering information via online self-service portals vs being reliant on a salesman grew from 53% in 2015 to 61% in 2018.

From the results of the survey, it is very obvious that there is a growing adoption of the disruption brought on by B2B e-commerce. It is also worth mentioning that the pace of the adoption is not too rapid for conventional sales models to become completely obsolete in the very near foreseeable future. For companies that have not yet ventured down the road of e-commerce however, it might be time to define their own wise pivot model, and make themselves more future-proof, as it seems the e-commerce disruption will only continue to grow.

Cassie van Wyk is the main author of this blog and has years of experience in the field of channel marketing and e-commerce respectively. He has a passion for writing and sharing knowledge, and does a lot of research in order to bring factual information to all the blog visitors. Feel free to reach out at any time!

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