We’re living in the age of the consumer-driven sale. Gone are the days of consumers buying and purchasing because of “the way things have always been done”—handshakes, signatures, and project lead times. Today, successful businesses provide their services and sell their products in ways that are easiest for the consumer. In the B2B world, this is done with efficient, self-service methods:
- One-step sign up;
- Automating accepting and provisioning of products;
- User-driven product adoption and expansion.
Automating What the Customer Wants
In B2B sales, the customer wants the process of what they’re buying to be simple. They want to know how much it costs off the bat—without having to speak to a sales representative. Successful tech platforms have been able to automate this purchasing process, almost alleviating the need for a sales person to get involved altogether.
HubSpot is a prime example of this sales methodology. The company has a complex set of products it sells, but it makes the experience of accepting and provisioning those products inside their own platform extremely easy. HubSpot also provides configurations for sales representatives to package together what products and services are best for a specific type of customer, making the sales process swift and easy. What’s even more valuable is that this configuration goes beyond the sales process. HubSpot has built its onboarding process to cater towards its customer, too, making the product(s) ready to use immediately—driving quick user adoption and product stickiness.
Slack is another company that uses an instant gratification sales methodology. Slack lets the user decide, not the executive. A recent article by our friends at Innovatemap outlines this B2U (Business-to-User) sales tactic:
"These days, tech adoption goes bottom-up, not top-down. Execs aren’t the ones choosing software; employees are. In fact, since founding my company in 2014, I haven’t bought a single piece of software from a salesperson. I’ve never had to—because my employees discover products for themselves. If we graduate to need the paid version, that’s when it’s brought to my attention that we need to start paying for the software (some examples we use are: Trello, MixMax, Dropbox, Pipedrive, Slack). At that point, value is derived and the decision is easy.” —Mike Reynolds, Executive Product Partner, Innovate Map
This business-to-user revolution has skyrocketed Slack’s growth and value. Slack lets users sign up for free, then from there are clear value-breaks that integrate into its checkout flow, allowing users to upgrade at the right time based on their use of the product. In 5 years since its inception, Slack has accumulated millions of daily active users and more than 80% of the Fortune 500 as customers. The bulk of those users came without a sales person ever picking up the phone.
The “B2U” paradigm in tech has proven the consumer-driven sales method works, and it’s completely reinventing how businesses go to market.
"The B2U model bypasses traditional sales channels. Instead of pitching decision-makers, a marketing department directly targets the end user. One employee starts using the software, then shares it with a coworker, who shares it with another, and so on until critical mass is reached. Soon everybody’s using it and asking for the premium version until decision-makers implement the software company-wide and pay for premium features.” —Mike Reynolds, Innovatemap
The Viral Factor
The B2U revolution supports another key piece of instant gratification in B2B sales: The Viral Factor. Like with Slack’s customer, once a user signs up and endorses the product, usage and signups spread like wildfire. This is because of the ease of use of the product and the need to engage other users within the company.
Dropbox is another tool that’s adopted this sales strategy. Its simple pricing structure easily scales from consumer to enterprise, and a bulk of transactions are handled inside of the application. Like Slack, Dropbox’s solution extends beyond cloud software with native apps, catering towards consumer satisfaction and ease of use. This further adds to “The Viral Factor” with flexibility of use, driving more adoption.
Does the “Instant Gratification” Sales Method Eliminate B2B Sales Jobs?
This isn’t a new worry in the B2B world. In 2015, Forrester released the report, "Death Of A (B2B) Salesman”, which predicted that “1 million B2B sales reps would lose their jobs between 2012 and 2020.” Reasons being for exactly what we’re discussing in this article—”[automated] sales processes and [the promotion of] digitally-enabled commerce”.
In March of 2017, the lead analyst on the report Andy Hoar published a follow-up to his research, and as predicted, many of the predictions and analyzations remained on the same trajectory: (from Forrester)
- B2B consumers still want to know and understand what their buying: Buyers wanting to get their own information versus working with a sales rep has gone up from 53% to 68% since 2015.
- Digital, self-service sales increases revenue: Proving to be both cost and consumer effective, businesses have continued to double-down on digital sales and self-service purchasing models. Per Forrester, “Coca-Cola reported that it reduced its average cost-per-interaction by 85% by [moving] B2B customers online. Also, US Foods said that customers who buy online spend 5% more than those who only buy offline, and Levi Strauss reported that shifting its B2B customers to a self-serve portal increased its revenue by 10%.”
Where We’ve Seen B2U Succeed
In our case, we’ve seen many customers begin to adopt B2U approaches to sales by implementing standardized, one-click contract and onboarding processes that stand alone through our platform or are integrated into their products. This process can eliminate redlines for smaller-sized deals and give more bandwidth back to your sales and legal teams to manage the more strategic relationships you’re trying to close. Standardized contract language and product pricing makes for easy selling to the smaller markets you may have previously considered.
Instant gratification sales is the future of doing business, and we’re only in the infancy of adoption. In the future, it won’t just be tech startups and e-commerce companies—and we have companies like Amazon to thank for eliminating the headaches of a traditional sales process.