Online B2B sales: What's big tech doing during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Updated 21:18, 22-Jun-2020
By Gong Zhe


The COVID-19 pandemic has crippled the world economy to the extent that some cross-border traders in China are moving to English education.

For a lot of salesmen, the pandemic has also been a disaster in which they can no longer go to anyone's doorstep and sell products face-to-face because the quarantine has prevented so many potential buyers from opening the front door.

But online sales are different: Browse, order, pay and the product is ready for shipment. For cloud service sales, it's even easier since everything can be done online.

It makes almost no difference between B2C and B2B sales, according to Claudio Christensen, vice president of IBM Digital Sales Centres in Europe.

In Europe, a lot of small business owners are used to buying services online, just like e-commerce.

One important benefit for online purchasing is that you can browse many brands at once and compare them side-by-side, which will probably lead to more rational choices.

IBM is not new in digital sales, Christensen told CGTN Digital. In the Dublin Digital Sales Centre in Ireland, the largest of its kind within the IBM Corporation, they have a team of more than 600 people from 23 countries, and more than half of the staff are millennial.

"By sales center I mean actual centers instead of old-fashioned call centers," Christensen stressed.

The team's workflow is in no way complicated. For some cloud products, they offer a three-month trial period, which was extended after the COVID-19 outbreak. Since the services are online products themselves, it's straightforward to just let users dive into the actual product.

From a five-dollar cloud server to million-dollar video streaming platform, products from across the internet are using trial periods to attract new users.

IBM also offers what they call "demo webinars" to offer demo product tailored for a client with salesmen guidance.

"Virtual [selling] is king. It seems the only way you can sell to clients these days in Europe," Christensen said.

Just like other companies like Huawei, Oracle and Microsoft, IBM is seeing an increase in the need for a secure mobile network and video chat software from customers.

The rising stars in the business-level video chat arena like Zoom and Tencent's VooV Meeting are using these companies' products as the backbone of their networks.

We at CGTN Digital are also witnessing a drastic increase in the use of video chat as part of news media. The once "low-quality" video content has now become one of the most used content forms by major video news outlets.

Talking about the future of digital sales, Christensen appeared very optimistic.

"Digital sales are here to stay," Christensen said, predicting that the surge of online business will survive longer than the pandemic.