The pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of many B2B companies. Implementing ecommerce and other digital tools requires rethinking how your organization operates and how it interacts with customers. It’s an opportunity to improve sales and back-office efficiencies.
Part of the transition involves changing employees’ roles and responsibilities. Employees will need to adjust. Likely they lack the required digital skills. Many will push back or refuse to evolve.
What follows are ideas for helping your B2B team get on the digital train.
There are many terrific educational resources. One is Practical Ecommerce, including my recent webinar on high-performing B2B sellers. Gartner publishes more than 800 on-demand webinars on topics ranging from marketing to finance to management.
My favorites books on managing change in a digital world include:
- “No Ego,“ which addresses how to lead through change. I’ve read it many times. It boils down to inviting people to step up to the challenge. It reminds me that leaders cannot make people change. Leaders invite the change.
- “The Lean Startup.” The digital transformation is a process of iterative learning. “The Lean Startup” challenges leaders to create a company-wide culture that values learning and innovation, which is essential to embracing change, in my experience.
- “Growth Hacker Marketing.” Successful marketers today wear many hats. “Growth Hacker Marketing” addresses how to blend technical and marketing skills to reach targeted prospects and convert them into raving fans. The book is focused mostly on retail, but its concepts apply to B2B merchants, too.
- “Content that Dances.” B2B ecommerce sites can compete with larger companies by demonstrating subject matter expertise via compelling content. “Content than Dances” explains how to create content that connects with your audience and starts the conversion funnel.
There are many helpful conferences on B2B ecommerce. They are virtual in 2020, which makes attendance very affordable.
- “B2BNext,” from Digital Commerce 360, is Sept. 29 – 30. I am presenting on the 29th.
- “B2B Online,” from WB Research, occurs October 28-29.
Closing the Skills Gap
When it comes to gaining skills, there’s nothing like experiential education — learning by doing. Consider having team members learn from each other.
Look for platform-specific tutorials and instruction, especially if you are re-platforming or changing systems. Ask your developers to assist, too, in gaining skills.
Create a safe space in your company for people to try new things. Launch smaller projects to help staff gain skills. Identify employees who are eager and interested in the digital opportunity, even if it’s not part of their current job.
The team members at my company, for example, get four hours per week of what we call “rock time” to focus on quarterly priorities and goals, such as developing new skills, trying new technology, or working on special projects. This comes from the Entrepreneurial Operating System. At the end of the quarter, employees present to the staff what they learned and how it can be used.