B2B sales organizations are witnessing a massive convergence of changes that require major adjustments to their operations. Between advancements in technology and shifts in buyer preferences, modern enterprises are finding that communicating vendor value and differentiating among competitors requires a fresh approach, focused on momentum and meeting buyers’ needs.
Here are four strategies to help your sales organization stay at the forefront.
1. Avoid A Piecemeal Process
Digital transformation requires a whole-of-organization process, not just a new application for sales and marketing, a new workflow for engineering, or a different process for customer success. Aligning mission and digital initiatives—and clearly and regularly communicating them—is essential for optimizing operations and seeing success.
In sales organizations alone, teams often manage a patchwork of technologies. Ostensibly designed to streamline processes, these disjointed technology stacks fail to deliver because of low adoption, a complicated UX, or undercommunicated value. Consider that only 23% of sales reps think they’re as effective in virtual sales as in face-to-face settings; only 39% of them report their managers use technology effectively when coaching staff. Billions are spent on enterprise CRM systems, yet nearly two-thirds of surveyed companies say the return on their investment falls short.
Digital initiatives can’t succeed when they’re not considered an essential part of a bigger whole. Digital transformation requires intention, commitment and a clear path for measuring success. After business leadership discerns the vision for digital transformation, investments need to be made to ensure that the right data, people and technology are in place.
To avoid a process that’s piecemeal (and, therefore, not actually strategic): Do appropriate research, establish key KPIs, educate widely to build organization-wide buy-in and conduct a regular assessment to see what spots are soft.
2. Adopt A Consultative Selling Approach
For modern enterprises, true customer centricity means adopting a consultative selling approach, which prioritizes building customer trust and relationships over simple product promotion. Rather than focusing on selling to, a consultative sales approach transforms the seller into a trusted advisor through an early and ongoing understanding of customer needs.
The key to consultative selling is quality data. When sales reps can approach a customer with insights drawn from customer history, micro-segmented data based on similar customer profiles and clear recommendations based on customers’ pain points, the relationship dynamic moves from transactional to transformational.
3. Blend Experience And Innovation
All sales reps, even the most skilled, will always be bound by time and capacity. The most effective technology is useless if not properly deployed. With the rise of virtual sales, the time available for reps to connect with prospects continues to drop, putting an even greater premium on making those minutes count.
Simultaneously, the pace of digital transformation has led to higher digital demands from B2B buyers, many of whom are often conducting their research outside of the vendor relationship. (More on this below.)
The modern sales process, therefore, is much more than the delivery of a product or service. It is a selling experience in which content and data blend to create more quality engagements. This requires a fusion of sales reps’ talent with unquestionably good marketing content about the product and its benefits. Perhaps this sounds obvious, but the majority of vendors are failing in this. Almost 90% of B2B decision makers think it’s important for vendors to provide relevant content at each stage of the buying process, yet over half (51%) view existing vendor material as useless.
Arming skilled reps with automated, engaging content—such as dynamic price sheets, interactive planograms, targeted ROI calculators, personalized audio and video and more—is doubly effective, infusing sales talent with analytical tools to create a robust sales experience instead of limited engagement.
4. Deliver An Omnichannel Experience
There’s been lots of discussion around the changing buyers’ journey, particularly as buyers do their research about products they’re considering. Ninety-four percent of B2B decision makers view an omnichannel approach (one that includes face-to-face, remote and online interactions) as being as effective—or more so—than the pre-Covid-19 approach that relied on in-person interaction. Yet only 10% of sales and marketing professionals report that their organizations have effectively blended different channels.
With buying audiences more skeptical than ever, using mass-produced content and generic messaging is a wasted opportunity. Not only does it fail to move the needle on short-term sales, but it also fails the critical test of demonstrating that the vendor understands what buyers want. Content, omnichannel availability and customized communications are central elements toward reframing the relationship and demonstrating why you’re the partner they need.
Customized content powered by data and analytics should be optimized for cross-channel deployment. Short and long-form content, interactive tools, videos, chat and more should be developed for maximum engagement for every channel at every stage of the buying process.
The pandemic introduced, then accelerated, major shifts within the sales landscape. Embracing these changes needn’t be scary, but it does require a holistic, intentional approach that can be agile in responding to shifts and effective in measuring implementation.