Since they’re not selling directly to consumers, diamond dealers, gem dealers, jewelry manufacturers, and other Business-to-Business (B2B) sellers in the jewelry industry tend to give less attention to their web presence than B2C retailers.
But with 94% of B2B buyers researching online before finalizing a purchase and 93% of B2B buyers preferring to purchase online, it’s essential for a B2B seller to manage their online presence as thoughtfully as a B2C retailer.
One reason B2B sellers might ignore their web presence is that they tend to see their clients simply as other businesses than as consumers. But when designing a website and developing a web presence, it’s important to remember that these other businesses are your customers, and they shop for services just like customers, albeit with a couple of key differences: the length of the buyer’s journey and the patience of the buyer.
B2B sellers aren’t looking to make a quick sale or encourage impulse buys. A B2B website isn’t going to run promotions, display products on sale up front, or rely on one-click purchases or social media sales. Instead, they expect the buyer to take some time to make a purchase, as they are likely considering a number of options, carefully weighing costs and benefits and consulting with managers and other colleagues in their company throughout the process. Since a great deal of thought goes into their decision, it should be easy for them to find the information they need to make that decision. That means that contact information, sign-up forms, and educational materials should be easily accessible. As part of your effort to demonstrate that you can solve their problems better than another seller, include an easy-to-navigate FAQ section and, if possible, a live chat feature.
The buyer doesn’t come to your website as a “shopper”—they’re not there to browse a catalog, imagine themselves using or wearing the merchandise, etc.—but to solve a problem or meet a need for their business, so it’s important to develop an approach that makes that decision easier.
Support this approach with simple, direct website design. A well-designed website will help your client learn quickly what you are about and if they want to work with you. A poorly designed website will only lead to frustration and a sense of time wasted, which will reflect poorly on your brand.
A well-designed website will offer value in the form of well-organized and useful content, not just sales pitches. What does that content look like? While it might seem that few people still read blogs these days and that all the action is on social media, B2B sites that feature blogs see more sales than those that don’t. A blog is a great place to demonstrate your expertise, share your success stories, and solve the buyer’s problems. In fiction and screenwriting, young writers are often advised to “show” rather than “tell”: don’t just tell the audience that the superhero is strong and selfless; write a scene where the superhero rushes into danger to lift a bus off of the hapless citizens trapped beneath it. A blog is your chance to “show” what you can do for a client rather than just “tell” them through a sales pitch.
As with all aspects of your web presence, consider the needs of your audience when writing or commissioning blog posts. A potential client probably has a lot of other work to get to and many other sellers to research, so keep those blog posts around 1000 words.
Social media serves a similar purpose, with the added objective of funneling leads to your website. Like a blog, it’s a place to share your expertise and build your credibility and trust. You do this not through self-promotion but by identifying what type of clients you would like to work with and showing them how you are best suited to meet their needs.
Newsletters are another valuable tool, serving as periodic reminders of what you can do for a client. A buyer may take weeks to come to a decision about which B2B to buy from. If they’re receiving a newsletter from you every week, you are staying fresh in their mind and giving them more reasons to buy from you. Make sure that before they leave your webpage, they are given a chance to sign up. A great way to entice someone to sign up for a newsletter is to offer something of value. If you are a diamond supplier, for example, an ebook on diamond grading can help demonstrate your expertise on the subject and give that potential client something they can use.
Finally, it’s vital that you know who you are and what you can offer. You can’t be everything to everyone, so you have to identify exactly what it is you do that makes you different from your competitors, and then create a strategy around bringing in leads who value what you value, work the way you work, and want what you can give them.
It’s not just consumers who are online. The vast majority of businesses also use the internet to find suppliers. If you’re not online, or if your web presence isn’t crafted with B2B sales in mind, you could be losing out on potential sales, so consider the best practices listed in this article and craft a brand identity and web presence tailored to the clients you want to reach.