Finding Easy Ways to Grow in Hard Times
By: Matt Schnitt, Senior Director of Product, Commerce and Payments, HubSpot
Looming recession. Climbing interest rates. Ballooning inflation.
It’s become pretty impossible to escape those themes, particularly if you’re a small business owner. Companies around the world are trying to figure out how to address these challenges while continuing to grow their business.
Over the past two years, we’ve talked a lot about how the pandemic has sped up the rate of digital transformation, particularly in the shift to selling online. It feels like we’re reaching another inflection point as businesses try to figure out how to do more with less in the face of macroeconomic headwinds.
In today’s economic climate, companies that aren’t adapting to selling online are missing out on a massive opportunity to better meet customer needs and generate more revenue while still cutting costs.
Need convincing? Take a look at the data — Gartner found that 44% of millennials prefer interactions online with no sales representative in business to business (B2B) purchase settings (and 100% of authors of this post). This stat may be easy to brush aside in economic expansions, but in a time when every dollar of sales and marketing expense should be scrutinized, it’s impossible to ignore.
Recessions often accelerate existing trends, increasing the likelihood that companies that fail to adapt are left behind. Take Blockbuster, for example. Despite having a stronghold on the brick and mortar video rental business, they were quickly left behind when Netflix started selling online in the early 2000s. Their inability and unwillingness to adapt to changing consumer demand was accelerated by the 2008 recession, and by 2010, they had filed for bankruptcy.
At this point, you might be thinking, “okay, totally hear you, but we don’t have a product that our customers will buy online.” To which I’d say, “did you read the Blockbuster example?”
I know that shift can feel daunting. But at HubSpot, we truly believe that anyone can sell online. It can be as simple as turning the channels that you already use to interact with your customers, such as your website, chat, and forms, into a channel that directly contributes to revenue. That’s a win for you in the form of increased revenue, and a win for customers in the form of a streamlined and simple buying experience.
Adapting to Customer Needs by Scrutinizing Your Products
We’ve talked about why you should sell online, but let’s switch gears to what you should sell online. Figuring that out starts with thinking about how your products and services impact your customers. We love a 2x2 grid at HubSpot, so we’ve put this one together to get your gears turning:
Thinking about your products this way, instead of thinking of them as one-size-fits all, is a key part of getting started with selling online. There’s great precedent for how we shop and buy in our personal lives — B2C companies figured this out a long time ago:
While this trend originated in the B2C world, its effects can be felt in B2B as modern buyers come to expect the same great experiences they get as consumers in the B2B buying process. In fact, a recent PYMNTS study found that 67% of B2B buyers report having switched to purchasing from vendors that offer a “more consumer-like” experience. That means that by offering the digital-first, online experience that your buyers have come to expect, you’ll automatically be setting yourself apart from the competition that’s stuck in their old ways.
So what could this look like for your business?
- Low Price, Low Change: This is likely re-ordering or purchasing additional products. Here you should consider those simple, time-consuming invoices you’re sending out to clients and turn them into a page on your website.
- Low Price, High Change: These are the products you have that you don’t sell enough of because the price doesn’t justify the effort. To help buyers mitigate risk, consider offering a recurring subscription to your clients with little to no commitment.
- High Price, Low Change: These are the products where you really need to go the extra mile to make sure your buyer has all of their questions answered. Before hopping on a Zoom, consider leaning into live chat, a knowledge base, and customer testimonials as a way to answer buyer questions in a low-touch way.
- High Price, High Change: Keep on keepin’ on — these are the products where you want to double down on a great human-led buying experience.
Plotting your products along this 2x2 is an extremely helpful exercise in determining what to start selling online. The last question becomes how to start selling online. It’s unfortunately common for B2B companies, particularly SMBs, to be stuck beneath a stack of disparate tools that create too much friction to experiment with new go-to-market motions. This can be particularly painful when it comes to payment tools, which are historically siloed from the rest of the stack and don’t integrate with front-office tools.
Creating Better Buying Experiences with HubSpot Payments
That’s where we come in. At HubSpot, we see a huge opportunity to bridge the gap between B2B sellers’ aspirations and their buyers’ expectations by helping our customers sell online, which is why we’re continuing to invest in HubSpot Payments, our native payment tool for B2B businesses.
Originally launched in November of last year, HubSpot Payments gives B2B businesses the tools they need to grow their revenue by embracing new ways of selling online. With Payments, we’re connecting commerce with the CRM, empowering businesses to turn the channels they already use to interact with their customers into drivers of revenue.
Our first iteration of HubSpot Payments included the tools a business needs to get started selling online — things like payment links, recurring payments, and the option to streamline selling by collecting payments in quotes. We recently launched a handful of new features that will help customers take their online selling to the next level. HubSpot Payments now equips users with the ability to:
- Associate a payment with a meeting scheduling page, creating a seamless transaction whenever time is scheduled with merchants
- Add a payments CTA to emails easily
- Collect payment upon completion of a form
- Store buyers’ transactional information with a payments object
- Harness the power of automation and reporting in HubSpot on payments data
It’s only been a few months, but the success stories are already rolling in. Those use cases are music to my ears as a product leader. Take the International Car Wash Association, who has grown their ecommerce revenue by five times since implementing our tools. With HubSpot Payments, the entire customer buying journey takes place on the HubSpot CRM Platform, including customer and purchase information. That 360-degree view gives sales, marketing, and service the context they need to create more customer-centric buyer experiences. Looking for more sources of inspiration? We’ve gathered examples of other innovative ways our customers are selling online in our Payments Hall of Fame.
In times of uncertainty, it can often be hard to know where to start. But with that uncertainty also comes opportunity. After all, digital transformation isn’t going away — it’s only going to accelerate from here. This is the time to figure out how to set yourself apart from the competition, and one simple way to do that is to sell online. HubSpot Payments gives you the tools you need to make that happen, but it’s up to you to embrace change and commit to crafting the experience that your customers deserve.
It’s hard times, and we’re all looking for easy ways to grow. Selling online is one of them…just ask Blockbuster.