To succeed at B2B e-commerce, companies need to put in place teams that go beyond conventional ways of doing things to better engage customers online, says executive recruiter Jerry Bernhart, who will speak on recruitment strategies at B2B Next.

Jerry Bernhart

Manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors looking to move into online selling aren’t just adding a channel—they’re looking at major change that will have an impact across the company, says Jerry Bernhart, principal at Bernhart Associates Executive Search, who will speak at B2B Next in Chicago next month.

Bernhart will examine the challenges and solutions of staffing for B2B e-commerce as a panelist in a session, “People Power: The Frenzied Competition for E-Commerce Talent.” In a recent interview with B2BecNews, he discussed what B2B companies should expect in launching an e-commerce initiative.

  1. What is driving B2B companies to expand online?

Bernhart: From where I sit as an executive recruiter who places these candidates, the battle cry often goes like this: We see how this is benefitting our competition, and we need to be there. Also, the buyers and other decision makers who order our products are buying their own goods and services online, and they want a similar experience when they go to the business marketplace.     

It means challenging time-honored ways of doing things, shaking up existing organizational structures and cultural norms, and learning new practices.
Jerry Bernhart, principal
Bernhart Associates Executive Search



Q:  What are some of their biggest challenges?

Bernhart:  Many of the B2B companies that call my office are relatively new to digital. Moving up the curve of digital maturity requires a strategic shift that is not always easy to achieve. It means challenging time-honored ways of doing things, shaking up existing organizational structures and cultural norms, and learning new practices such as utilizing more advanced analytics to gain stronger insights and strengthening cross-channel integration. Perhaps most importantly, there must be a high level of investment priority.

Q: What are the biggest gains they’re realizing?

Bernhart:  I’ve seen some of my clients generate everything from sharply increased revenue growth to much higher levels of customer satisfaction. The great thing about it is that these gains can be measured.

Q: What in your opinion is the biggest thing B2B companies still need to realize about e-commerce?


Bernhart:  Generally, creating a more user-friendly experience.

Q:  What is your most valuable piece of advice for B2B companies looking to add online sales or increase them?  

Bernhart:  Hire the right leaders. The formula is simple: You need leaders who can reconceive businesses, and inspire people. Then, watch your online business grow.

Registration for B2B Next ( is open. The conference features:

  • 38 Sessions
  • 44 Speakers
  • 28 Exhibitors
  • 9 Networking Events

Learn more at (