McKinsey's research finds that 70% of decisionmakers are prepared to spend up to $500,000 in a single ecommerce transaction.

B2B buyers are pretty determined in the digital purchasing experience they expect from sellers. And pretty much when they want it is now, according to a new McKinsey & Co. survey of nearly 4,000 business executives in 13 countries.

“B2B companies winning the most market share are simultaneously employing five major modern sales and marketing tactics,” the survey says.

The five sales and marketing tactics

  1. Deploying advanced sales technology
  2. Increasing hybrid sales teams and capabilities
  3. Delivering hyper-personalization
  4. Tailoring strategies on third-party marketplaces
  5. Achieving ecommerce excellence across the full marketing and sales funnel

“They’re developing a sophisticated digital customer experience — especially by leveraging social media, mobile devices, and texting early in the buying process,” according to the survey.

McKinsey survey results

The McKinsey survey finds that B2B ecommerce has taken the lead as the most effective sales channel. Ecommerce is rated first by 35% of respondents, ahead of in-person sales (26%), video conference (12%), email (10%), and telephone (8%).

Companies winning market share have not only digital self-serve channels such as their own websites but also broader ecommerce offerings. For example, 48% of successful sellers growing ecommerce are selling are on industry-specific marketplaces. That compares with only 13% of companies losing ecommerce share, McKinsey says.


B2B buyers also are spending more money on placing larger orders online. McKinsey’s research finds that 70% of decision-makers are prepared to spend up to $500,000 in a single ecommerce transaction. Meanwhile, the number of buyers willing to spend up to $10 million in a single ecommerce transaction rose 83%.

“This trend is particularly prominent in China, India, and the U.S. — and especially within the global energy and materials (GEM); telecommunications, media, and technology (TMT); and advanced industries sectors,” McKinsey says.

“These trends we are seeing continue to shake things up for companies,” says McKinsey partner Jennifer Stanley. “And the signals are clear. Customers know exactly what, where, how, and when they want things. What’s even more clear? Companies that adapt and respond to those needs and provide value are being rewarded in multiple ways — from higher retention rates, higher sales, and higher market share.”

Other research findings include:

  • More than half of digital-first sellers have hybrid sales teams. Hybrid sales models, which involve sales staff meeting with customers both in-person and remotely, were used by 57% of companies that are growing their market share, McKinsey says.
  • Approximately two-thirds of B2B sellers (69%) are planning to increase their sales team investments in B2B ecommerce, and 72% of respondents plan to increase capital expenditure on related digital technology.

“It’s a defining moment for sales and marketing leaders,” says McKinsey partner Candace Lun Plotkin. “Companies that are defying the odds and going all in on critical investments, and growth levers are realizing market share gains at a faster clip. What this means for those who are looking to emerge stronger, is that growth — even in this difficult climate — is attainable. It comes down to charting that path and taking decisive action.”


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