Seismic shifts have taken place in B2B sales over the past few decades, often due to the introduction of new technologies. In the early 2000s, Salesforce and CRM narrowed their focus to individual prospects and covered customer segmentation. Years later, increased availability of sales analytics and tools has changed B2B sales by focusing on numbers and moving away from the long methodologies or soft skills of individual representatives. And in the last few years, hyper-tuning, personalization and artificial intelligence have played a central role as sales departments look for process efficiencies and improved outcomes.
Looking ahead, Gartner predicts that by 2025, 60% of B2B sales organizations will switch from sales based on experience and intuition. Due to the rapid pace of digitalization, B2B buyers now prefer to interact with suppliers remotely or through digital self-service, and they plan to spend heavily.
The transition to a new B2B buying model, accelerated by the pandemic, requires a commensurate shift in the sales department’s approach to B2B sales. Despite the evolution and availability of sales technology, many teams still depend on an anachronistic approach. Many businesses are reluctant to abandon the “supplier talk, customers listen” model, which has proven useful and profitable in previous eras, despite the changing composition of B2B buyer teams. It is no longer enough to “sell” to customers; sales departments should “cooperate” with them when they make purchasing decisions. The new sales funnel puts B2B buyers in the spotlight and requires quick and continuous communication of demonstrated value.
Often sales representatives treat technologies with suspicion, concerned that they may be altered or that the model in which they were effective has been replaced by a model where their skills are not required. But the new B2B navigation map combines past and future, combining experience and intuition with technologies and innovations that meet the demands of the digital age.
Here are some considerations for the transition.
1. Expand the use of tools, but wisely
Technology has revolutionized sales, but can cause serious headaches if poorly implemented. According to Time management research for sales show that approximately 62% of a sales representative’s time is spent on using sales technology (not actively selling). The two main frustrations of sales departments are performing repetitive administrative tasks that can be automated and upgrading multiple systems that need to be connected. There are applications for CRM, sales and market analytics, processing and sourcing, analytics and reporting, processes and coaching, automation and integration and more as new programs emerge every day.
Tools that are sophisticated and create difficulties in the sales team’s work day mean that sales departments ignore them and find workarounds. The same goes for buying the hottest tools without a clear plan for lifelong learning and training. When considering new technologies, make sure you don’t:
- creating a process where it is not needed
- duplicating unnecessary steps
- displacing widely used and familiar tools without telling how to use them and why they will improve the life of a sales representative
2. Use data better
Although Salesforce estimates that high-performing sales teams are 1.5 times more likely to predict based on data estimates, only 46% of sales representatives have information about customers ’propensity to buy. And while 81% of sales representatives find it important to have a coherent view of data all the way, only 49% of businesses say they have fully integrated systems.
Sales representatives spend time on the cutting edge to determine what metrics and other data will be useful to demonstrate value to each customer. Using artificial intelligence to predict ordering needs or interactive play is useless if you lack useful data about unique customer and market activities. For in-house sales, the inclusion of self-service analytics allows non-technical staff, such as executives and marketers, to easily assimilate complex information to produce better reports and content, and accelerate the necessary step from relying on intuition and moving to data-driven understanding.
McKinsey offers the following examples of key uses of analytics: lead generation, lead counting, reach planning, field performance, talent and people management, pipeline management and forecasting, cross-selling / additional sales, declining outflows, dynamic pricing, dynamic pricing, and A / B price testing. The potential of analytics to enhance sales and engagement exists in all parts of the sales path, and integrating data collection and use is critical to future sales.
3. Transfer control
It has never been more important to convey the right message, at the right time, in the right channel. And with the move to digital, sales departments have the opportunity to achieve this by letting go, leaning towards a growing interest in self-service options for B2B buyers.
AI, predictive analytics, interactive technology and other innovations can effectively enable customers to drive themselves to sales. At the convenience of the client, marketers can capture the audience with highly personalized and effective content, which will lead to greater customer interaction and additional useful data. Relying on digital initiatives, B2B sellers can create a better engagement cycle by using data evaluation to personalize travel rather than just giving product focus. According to Mary Sheaformer Forrester chief analyst Between 74% and 77% of buyers are more likely to buy from a vendor who has adapted to these changing expectations – one who brings customized data and understanding to the conversation, provides an interactive tool as to how their product or service measures business performance or provides other kinds of new and compelling information.
This virtuous cycle gives sales representatives a direct understanding of the pain points, needs and desires of prospects and existing customers. And it gives customers the opportunity to engage the way they want, when they want, and with what they want.
4. Improving communication channels
The number of communication tools is constantly growing, and businesses need to think about how to enable these innovative channels while serving several purposes: providing premium customers, providing customer data, and maintaining compliance. Apps like WeChat, Viber, Telegram, Facebook and others offer easy dating for B2B buyers who have little time and patience to bind to channels due to the inflexibility of the provider. And their acceptance is growing rapidly. Increasing the availability of communication channels not only increases the impact of customer engagement, but can also help sales departments and customers achieve compliance. Companies can manage all communications through a central hub (i.e. through a WeChat ABC Inc. account) and send messages to and from individual sales representatives (such as John Anderson, WeChat ABC Inc. account sales representative) to manage regulatory requirements.
5. Measure efficiency, not reach
Because of the heavy responsibilities that are often imposed on sales representatives, registration information can often remain a thought when representatives move from one activity to another. And because of the residual traditional “sell to whom” sales processes, teams may not capture the data that makes sales successful in the digital age. In terms of sales, move away from quantity data (number of planned contacts, number of new leads, number of contacts) and move on to quality (which collateral provided the most interaction time, which materials led to the highest conversion). Today’s (and tomorrow’s) buyers are more skeptical of sales representatives ’claims than previous buyers’ teams, so focus on indicators that demonstrate immediate and consistent return on investment.
The only constant is change, and sales departments ignore this lesson at their own peril. To stay relevant in the digital world, sales need to adapt their approach to an approach that meets today’s digital requirements.
Read more about enabling sales:
https://www.toolbox.com/marketing/sales-enablement/guest-article/considerations-deploying-digital-b2b-sales-approach/ 5 Considerations for Deploying a Digital Approach to B2B Sales