Amazon Launches B2B Business

As the web has grown and more B2B companies have expanded their online presences, they have had to deal with the notion of Amazon as a competitor. Not in the normal sense of competition for business, but competition for attention. B2B companies have also had to contend with the Amazon experience. No matter what your business, as soon as you migrate it to the web, your customers expect an experience like they get at Amazon. This means easy navigation, filtered browsing, robust search, recommended products, customer reviews, simple checkout and reliable shipping.

The launch of Amazon Supply brings more than 500,000 scientific, industrial and business products to customers the Amazon way. If your B2B company sells products in these categories, you are not just competing against the Amazon experience, but you are competing against Amazon themselves. This is going to be a frictionless process for many smaller customers, as they will be able to use their Amazon account and associated credit card to make their business purchases. This new business supports a line of credit as well, so if you are in the business of selling these kinds of products, it is time to understand what your competitive advantage is, and how you can leverage your customer relationships to maintain your business.

It is unlikely that you can compete with Amazon on price or shopping experience, so focus on your people and their experience in the various industries. AmazonSupply offers phone ordering, free shipping, technical product support and fax orders 24 hours a day. Wow, really? Faxes?

Social media can help support your existing customers and attract prospects if you create and share content that provides business value to your customers. Even though AmazonSupply has Twitter and Facebook profiles, it is unlikely that they will create a blog, hold webinars or distribute business ebooks (Kindle books excluded, of course) to help their customers solve their business problems. With products in such a broad array of categories (listed below), their content strategy would be too fragmented to be effective. It is likely that they will use social media to promote products and specials and handle customer service issues.

And rather than treating them like Amazon, treat them as you would any other competitor. Although if you have online initiatives that you have been holding off, now may be the time to get those moving. What are other things you can do to compete against AmazonSupply?

  • Abrasives & Finishing
  • Cutting Tools
  • Fasteners
  • Fleet & Vehicle Maintenance
  • Hydraulics, Pneumatics & Plumbing
  • Janitorial & Sanitation
  • Lab & Scientific
  • Material Handling
  • Materials
  • Occupational Health & Safety
  • Office
  • Power & Hand Tools
  • Power Transmission
  • Test, Measure & Inspect

The B2B Social Media Book is Now Available on Kindle

If you have been waiting patiently to pre-order The B2B Social Media Book for your new, holiday-scented Kindle, your wishes have been answered. But it is even better than that. While the hardcover book is due out January 24, and is available for pre-order, the Kindle version is available for download right now (even in the UK).

This means you can read it now and start the year with your head filled with ideas about social media lead generation and how you can contribute to the revenue of your B2B company. B2B marketing has traditionally been about generating leads, and we have focused the book on how social media can support lead generation objectives and demonstrate marketing leadership.

And just to share some of our excitement, the photo above is of preview copies that I received yesterday. You really never know what it is like to publish a book until you hold it in your hands. And we can’t wait for you to not just hold it, but to read it.

We wrote this book to help marketers understand how they should be using social media. It is filled with strategies, tactics, frameworks, inspiration and even some math. And we really want to know what you think about it. And how it can help your company and your career. Share your thoughts on Amazon. Share them online with the hashtag #B2BSM.

If you pre-order the hardcover or the Barnes & Noble Nook version, or order the Kindle version before the hardcover is released, make sure you get your pre-order bonus prequel chapter, Stop Wasting Time With Social Media! Create A Better B2B Website Today!

Blackberry Apps for Your B2B Sales Force

After covering BlackBerry apps for B2B marketers and PR professionals, this week we’re taking a look at BlackBerry apps that facilitate B2B sales.

B2B salesmen and women are constantly traveling, and their nomadic lifestyles demand mobile support. In the field, even a laptop can be cumbersome, so it’s important to have sales solutions that fit in your pocket.

As the go-to choice for most sales teams, it makes sense BlackBerry has many apps designed to close deals and deliver results:

1. Salesforce Mobile

Customer relationship management (CRM) is an integral part of an organization’s sales strategy. Salesforce.com, one of the most popular solutions, has a mobile version for users to upload customer information in real time, right after important customer calls, e-mails and visits. The app helps to manage sales and prospect data outside of the office, which equals less time at your desk and more time in the field.

Thanks to a recent Salesforce update, the Mobile Lite app is now free for all Salesforce users, including Group customers.

2. Oracle Mobile Sales Assistant

If you use Oracle as your CRM system, its Mobile Edge app will take your CRM data on the road.

Mobile Edge puts all of the traditional CRM account, contact, opportunity, activity, lead and ticket information on your BlackBerry, syncs with your phone’s address book and utilizes custom objects, pre-loading device data, centralized administration and interface mapping. Its latest update in October 2009 introduced support in 12 languages, opening up new opportunities for global B2B companies.

While this free demo will give you a peek into the mobile app’s features, you’ll have to contact your Oracle rep for full installation and connectivity.

3. Kindle

E-book readers have become a part of B2B marketing tool kit, delivering novels, industry e-books and blogs (like Social Media B2B) in one sleek package – but what if that package is still too big for salespeople on the go?

Amazon just released a beta BlackBerry app that puts more than 400,000 books on your smartphone. Kindle owners can access their libraries and notes, and the app automatically synchronizes your last page read and annotations.

While it’s not a replacement – BlackBerry Storm owners will be at an advantage, as Bold, Curve and Tour screens require constant page turning and squinting – the Kindle app for BlackBerry extends the convenience of an e-reader.

4. VQ Mileage Tracker

Tracking mileage and gas on business trips and customer visits can be tedious and time-consuming. There are many mileage tracking apps available for the BlackBerry, but VQ Mileage Tracker (currently discounted from $14.99 to $6.99) goes one step further and does all of the work for you.

The app automatically calculates mileage every time you’re in the car, and stores the data until you generate a report with information on the date and time of each trip, address and miles driven. The app also uses BlackBerry or Google maps to pinpoint each trip.

5. MyCommission

More sales equals more money, and the MyCommission app ($2.99) helps salespeople figure out just how many dollars they’ll take home at the end of the day.

The app allows you to enter the account name and status (committed, in upside or are pipeline) of each deal and calculates the resulting commission.

What BlackBerry apps have you found to be helpful in the sales field?

Social Media B2B Now On The Kindle!

One of the things I love most about Social Media B2B is all of the feedback and comments we get from readers. These comments help us make the blog better everyday. While it is easy and free to subscribe to Social Media B2B via RSS and E-mail (see right sidebar) we are always looking for other ways for people to read about B2B social media, that best fits their busy schedule.

Today we are excited to announce that you can now subscribe to Social Media B2B on your Kindle. Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t offer Kindle subscriptions for blogs for free, so it is $1.99 a month. However for executives and other team members on the go who may not like subscribing in RSS or e-mail and want an offline way to read Social Media B2B we think $1.99 is a fair price for that solution.

I do have a Kindle and really enjoy having an e-reader. It is a great solution for some people, especially travelers. Feel free to subscribe on the Kindle here. Even if you don’t subscribe, Jeff and I would appreciate it if you reviewed the blog on the Kindle page.

Please let us know if there are other methods of distribution you would like to see in the future.