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B2B Sales Have Changed Forever, its a revolution

B2B salesperson selling via videoconferencing
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New research in Australia: For B2B sales, digital is the wave of the future.

In the new world of B2B Sales, 75% of people prefer to buy and sell via video conferences compared to the telephone. Conferencing with platforms like Zoom, Webex, and Teams have become the new normal, and 89% of companies will retain the new normal of video buying/selling.

B2B decision-makers globally say that online and remote selling is as effective as in-person engagement, or even more so—and they’re not just talking about selling to warm leads. Sellers also believe digital prospecting is as effective as in-person meetings to connect with existing customers.

In this extensive research by McKinsey across the USA and Europe, the findings are not surprising in light of the pandemic. But what about Australia? Are these numbers going to hold firm in our country too?

Sales Focus Advisory decided to survey 450 Australian companies and determine their views both as buyers and sellers. The response was interesting:

  • 81% of companies plan to continue encouraging personnel to work from home as they have found their productivity rates have increased
  • 79% of companies prefer video conference meetings due to the productivity increases and find the discussions more focused, requiring shorter time frames.
  • 38% of people are willing to purchase up to $500k through end-to-end digital purchasing (a higher figure than the USA and Europe
  • 92% of people report spending more time researching products and services and are more willing to purchase from out-of-state suppliers.

So, what does this mean for B2B sales methodology?

With B2B buyers willing to purchase from out-of-state suppliers, the level of competition is going to increase. Salespeople will need to be savvier and have strong digital skills to communicate with potential and existing customers.

With a changing landscape, salespeople and their sales methodologies will need to change to continue to deliver sales goals. Those used to face-to-face meetings to build rapport and relationships now find themselves at arm’s length from their customers.

Although it is good to see the person, and it gives some sense of rapport, it certainly does not have the same connection as when you are sitting opposite the person. Some salespeople will struggle to adapt to this distance selling, and that struggle will not be age-related; it will come from people’s desire to connect with people.

The customers are now comfortable Googling for information and being fully digitised to search for solutions and improved products. The buyers will be informed and, as seen over the last few years, have less reliance on knowledge from salespeople. This trend is continuing, and companies that do not have strong digital assets to guide customers to them will be disadvantaged.

B2B Salespeople will need to become strong digital prospectors or have a functioning marketing force behind them, serving them qualified leads. With people operating from mobile phones connecting with them will be difficult in the first instances.

The next challenge will come with B2B sales presentations, and these can be problematic for some industries. Where samples and test equipment were presented and discussed with customers, there is now a lagger in time if they are to be shipped ahead of a meeting or split in two. Customers will have time to review products unguided by salespeople giving them more control of the buying process. The sales pitch will shift even further toward conceptual selling practices unless high-quality sales decks are produced for sales reps.

For those selling services, the changing landscape has been more favourable for them. Not having products to rely on and many cases, cloud-based offerings, the transition is relatively seamless.

Digitised signing documentation will become normal, and you see the rise of cloud-based proposals and electronic signing to streamline closing deals and purchasing decisions. Sales training companies will need to make deep changes to training content and methods to support salespeople in this new world. The sales process has changed, and account-based selling to multiple decision-makers within a company becomes even more challenging.

What does this mean for Sales Managers?

Some sales managers have been actively remote managing and adopted many electronic and cloud-based management systems. They have a culture within their sales teams that has already captured the unique skills of distance management.

However, the new world has forced other sales managers who were reluctant to a digitised world crashing into a wall. They have lost the learning time that many of their counterparts have developed to manage and manage through more data and trending remotely. They now need to adapt, and their sales team needs them to adapt to remain relevant in the market.

Where they are attending joint meetings via teleconference, we are seeing a disconnect between those managers who are slow or late adopters and their savvy sales team members. Salespeople are often giving them guidance on how to use systems when bugs occur during meetings. Live role-playing is back on the table for meeting formats and is conducted with multiple attendees in sales appointments.

What does this mean for Marketing Managers?

The rise of the digital buyer has been occurring for some time. Throughout the pandemic, people, particularly in Melbourne, have become well-versed in online research and buying. The rise of eCommerce and people’s engagement online has trained them to be the first place of call.

What’s more, they are becoming very good at finding what they need or answers to their questions. They can shift through the noise and identify quality information more readily.

For marketing, those without a digital marketing strategy aligned with sales will be holding their companies back. They will need to ensure they have great content and tools readily available for buyers and the sales team to engage buyers.

Marketing and sales need to be connected to the new sales cycle and what the pain points are that customers will be looking to resolve. Further objective research on customers will be required to ensure that the communications are aligned and that there is no slippage where customers will turn to competitor offerings.

This is a great time for companies to adjust, adapt and streamline their marketing and sales operations. There are cost-saving opportunities with lower sales costs, and these need to be balanced against increased marketing costs.

The measurement of marketing will be as stringent now on leads generated and campaign effectiveness. The measurement flows end-to-end and is applied to sales forces for their performance in managing leads and ROI achieved when deals close.

If you would like to discuss your specific situation and the new sales environment, please reach out to us to organise a Zoom conference or telephone conversation.

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About the Author: Adele Crane

A leader in Implementation Consulting.
CEOs and Managing Directors have relied on Adele Crane to solve challenges with the performance of their sales and marketing since 1990. Her consulting experience in delivering results in 90-120 days is unprecedented by any other known sales and marketing consulting professional in the world. As an author of 3 acclaimed books, appearances on major media, and publications in USA, NZ and Australia, Adele’s experience brings fresh thinking and contemporary practices to business.