June 17, 2014, 11:55 AM

In B2B, the strongest sellers are online

An Accenture survey finds that fast-growing B2B companies are going digital in sales and marketing far more than B2B companies with low or negative revenue growth.

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Companies that sell and market to other businesses online—through e-commerce sites, social media, mobile commerce and cloud-based applications—are reaping rewards of revenue growth and stronger relationships with customers, management and technology services firm Accenture says in a new study.

“Masters understand how technology broadly affects their business,” Accenture says in the study, which defines as “masters” companies with the strongest performance in revenue and in how they engage customers, employees and suppliers to operate more profitably. “They consistently embrace digital technologies that affect customer experience (web, social, mobile and cloud), moving from being digitally disrupted to becoming digital disruptors.” In comparison, the study defines as “strivers” B2B companies with moderate performance and “trying hard/laggards” companies with low or negative performance.

The study, which is based on a survey last fall of 1,458 executives at companies across 20 industry groups that sell products or services to other businesses, provides the following percentages of companies by performance levels that are using web sites, social media, mobile commerce and Internet-hosted or cloud-based applications to better engage customers and develop new revenue streams.

● Companies with strong revenue growth: 86%

● Companies with moderate revenue growth: 65%

● Companies with low or negative revenue growth: 32%

Accenture says that the top companies in its study also are more likely to invest in digital technologies and campaigns to generate new revenue sources.

“But that doesn’t mean masters are ignoring traditional analog channels,” Accenture adds. It notes that the most successful B2B companies provide consistency in sales and marketing efforts across such traditional channels as sales reps and contact centers, so that customers experience the same marketing messages and levels of service regardless of how and where they interact with a supplier.

But the top B2B companies also avoid using digital channels only to attract new customers before forcing them to rely solely on offline channels for sales and service, Accenture says. “Masters have struck a balance between the use of digital and analog channels, and recognize that a growing number of new, high-value, digitally savvy customers will expect to stay digital throughout the sales and service processes,” Accenture says.

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