It’s no surprise that COVID-19 has drastically changed the landscape for B2B sales, just how many of these changes will remain for the foreseeable future is yet to be seen.
But, if there is one change that will remain after the recovery and have a major impact on the sales process, it’s remote working.
With companies such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft allowing remote work, there no doubt others will follow their lead.
With this workplace transition, it also means that B2B buyers will change how they behave. Sales teams are going to have to adopt a different approach when dealing with a remote audience.
The disruptions of coronavirus have underscored the crucial role of technology, from supporting remote working to utilizing digital tools for sales enablement.
Impact of remote working
B2B sales teams, many now working remotely themselves are faced with an entirely new situation:
- How should they be talking to their customers?
- How can they develop an approach that also helps a customer’s internal decision making?
- How should they be working internally, with colleagues across the business?
- How are they going to continue to support business development?
- What impact will there be on the B2B buying journey?
If you add to this environment multiple new communication channels and an increasing number of stakeholders for any sales process, it’s no wonder that businesses are struggling to generate and nurture sales leads.
So – How can I adapt to this new buying journey?
We have put together five steps that as a business you can tackle all in one go, or work on then step by step.
All of these steps can be undertaken with little or no cost, but they will need you to invest time to get the returns.
Step 1. The new buying journey
The B2B buyer’s journey has today an increasing number of digital touch points, different stakeholders and multiple decision makers.
It has made the B2B buying process far more complex and longer than it has ever been. So, to gain ground digitally it is important to adopt a mindset that is “customer focused and buyer-centric”.
For a more mature company this could represent a major mind-shift to employ tactics that target increased buyer engagement, to listen rather than always be in a ”selling mode”.
It means also the tools you need to present your case are different. Without a face-to-face audience to engage with, sales will need to be able to visualize complex value selling calculations. Customers will look for more interactivity because of the situation, where they can work and present internally new scenarios.
Step 2. Get to know your audience!
First, as a business you’ll need to rethink your approach to your ideal customer profile. The B2B buyer mindset has shifted in recent months and businesses are trying to adapt to these changes.
According to McKinsey, their recent customer-behavior research shows that digital interaction with B2B customers is now two times more important than traditional channels. That is a more than a 30 percent jump since before the COVID-19 crisis hit.
The reality is that a B2B sales prospect will find you when they’re good and ready; no matter how much effort you put into chasing them.
So, it is important to make sure that prospects find your approach easy to work with, that you present your sales argument in a way that a remote audience can effectively interact with.
According to a SiriusDecisions Study on B2B Buyer Behaviour – ”Up to 67 per cent of the buyer’s journey now occurs digitally, shortening the actual time for sales engagement.”
The B2B buyer can be difficult to reach through traditional sales and marketing methods and nowadays prefers to self-educate and use online tools.
For example, to assess different scenarios in their own time, not have to meet one-to-one and interact with different variables to compare your offer to others as a “apples to apples” scenario.
Recent research from Demand Gen B2B Buyers Survey Report 2016 found that the main sources of information that buyers reference were taken primarily from their web search activities, vendor websites and insights from peers. Underlining the need to provide access
Step 3 – A new Buyer Persona
Sales teams need to get an immediate handle on prospective customers and their motivations along with their digital behavior.
While many companies believe they have a well-developed sense of what their customers want and why, the market is now so radically different, for sales they should now question everything.
It will help them to rapidly shift their messaging and value proposition to match their customers’ new needs.
As a business you’ll need to take a step back and consider drawing up a buyer persona that prioritizes the values that your products and services bring.
Detailing a persona that exhibits interest in digital behavior and the new supplier dynamics.
Each type of ideal customer has different wants and needs. And when you know what these are, you can target a relevant online message and approach that builds trust and credibility.
A buyer persona is your semi-fictional representation of an ideal customer.
The first step is to challenge your own personal view of the customer, as it could be a little narrow if you rely just on your own feelings.
Start researching your persona definition by looking through your own contact database, capture information from forms and data fields on your website and get feedback from colleagues and customers.
Step 4. Refocus your brand to connect with and be relevant to buyers
Customers are likely to remember brands whose behavior has been particularly responsive to these tough new times.
Utilising digital tools and creating a positive user experience are key to generating leads and engaging with your sales prospects.
Sales should look to tap into particular elements of the business that are relevant to the current situation and can make a difference with their customer base.
Step 5. Rethinking value selling
Since customer behaviors and attitudes will continue to change, sales strategies should follow suit.
That means essentially re-looking at a new digital approach to remote selling because previous assumptions and processes may no longer apply.
Companies need to rethink their business value proposition for their customers, re-assess which products and services can best deliver on that value proposition, and change how they communicate those values.
The important thing is to build what customers want, will use, and drives their satisfaction and repeat business. To understand what that is and how your product fits those needs, follow our five steps and start to plan how to incorporate digital selling.
Evaluate your buyer persona and their buying journey. Remember to keep an open mind on how and where you can interact with them digitally.
Assess how effective your digital approach is. Are you creating the user experience for example on your website that your customers prefer, do you know which digital touch points you can influence to get a greater share of mind?
Don’t forget that to get a digital commerce program running at full speed, that it needs to be impactful both in its calculations and visualization.
Sales can only increase their impact if you allocate time for strategy and planning. Be dynamic in your approach, test, experiment and assess all the time your actions. If you cannot measure it – you cannot grow it.