Seismic shifts in B2B buying will significantly alter B2B commerce in the next 5 years. Majority of B2B organizations will not be denominated in the quantity of sales professionals, at least not altogether.
Boosting individual seller performances could prove to be a weak, lopsided means to address the evolving buying behaviours. Instead, sales leaders should evolve their approach from leading teams of individual sellers to leading an all-encompassing sales effort and embracing digital routes to market.
Within the evolving buying dynamics, digitally-enabled customers are facing difficult considerations that are mismatched with modern sales models. This unceremoniously under-serves customers' most critical need, which is confidently making the best purchase decision possible. Let's look at some key trends that will shape the future of B2B selling at large:
There is a sustained reliance on digital channels, like supplier websites, social media, etc., throughout the buying journey. With the steady shift in customer preferences from face-to-face sales interactions toward digital channels, only 17% of the entire buying journey is spent interacting with the sales representatives.
All this should not come as a surprise for the B2B sales leaders, considering the high-quality information available across more objective digital channels. Digitally-native customers perceive very little value from cold called sales rep interactions.
As more and more millennials transition into key decision-making positions, digital-first buying behaviour will become the norm. Furthermore, this new buying habit also has a considerable impact on customer comfort.
B2B sales leaders who don't acknowledge the digital shift in the market will be outpaced by competitors offering value-based experiences through omnichannel sales models. Enterprises need to embrace a new identity and become the leaders in selling by positioning themselves as a problem solver rather than a seller. Digital sales models coupled with sales specialists will help customers navigate the complexities of an end-to-end purchase decision.
Unlike digital disruptors, conventional B2B enterprises stare at years of necessary rewiring of legacy organizational structures, processes, departmental silos, and leadership mindsets to accelerate their sales success.
Highly complex sales interactions that traditionally required in-person meetings and site visits are moving into virtual reality mode. From real estate to manufacturing, companies will graduate to cloud-based project management tools for customers to facilitate seamless buying enablement.
B2B organizations will have to drill down at a granular level to understand how, where, and what customers are learning. Isolating friction points, information gaps, and opportunities to build better buyer confidence is key to driving success in the future.
The rapid rise of the virtual buying model has created innumerable opportunities for analytics and data-driven sales processes. Customers who buy online leave their footprints across all touchpoints.
Whether it's website visitors, content downloads, or form fill-ups, B2B marketers have historically used these digital signals to analyze the depth of customer engagement and buying readiness. Innovative sales organizations are also tapping customer data similarly to understand funnel trends, generate forecasts, qualify opportunities, and actively engage with buyers.
Customer data flows from various touchpoints and enter the system in a non-standardized format. Organizations need to establish faculties that can help capture, organize, clean, and query customer data systematically. Effective data analytics should no longer be viewed as an abstract, vanity concept and must be prioritized as a fundamental growth competency.
As digital capabilities continue to grow, the amount of available customer data will simultaneously peak. The next 5 years will see B2B sales leaders leveraging high-end analytics tools to analyze customer behaviour and product usage patterns.
Vanguard B2B enterprises will aim to build 360-degree customer engagement models supported by data from all customer interactions. Whether it is customer service, technical support, or product interactions, all of them can help inform an enriched view for successful sales campaigns.
As the B2B buying landscape becomes more omnichannel, organizations will need to balance out the scope and substance of their seller behaviour. Sales leaders will also have to rethink their role as a problem solver and sales-enabler rather than aggregating the numbers. Traditional and digital sales channels should conjoin together to drive sales performance and increase customer engagement, thus boosting the bottom line and revenues.