The clock is ticking on shifting to a digital B2B sales strategy.
In the face of dramatic changes in recent B2B buying behavior, organizations must above all address their digital sales strategy. In other words, how they sell must reinforce their value to buyers. Sales has now forever been changed by technology. The digitalization of society and the COVID-19 pandemic has now many employees working remotely.
To compete in today’s marketplace, organizations must prioritize their adoption of technology. Faced with the challenge of digital transformation to how customers want to do business. Those companies that make the shift with their B2B sales strategy will be equipped to succeed. While those that do not will be left behind.
Ticktock, ticktock, ticktock. A B2B digital sales strategy.
That’s the sound of the countdown that begins every day. A clock ticking for companies working towards digital transformation. Looking to leverage a digital sales strategy to fill their sales pipeline, with opportunities to nurture and close.
Sell, sell, sell. Ticktock, ticktock.
The average B2B sales cycle has been extended by 22% with more decision makers involved. In addition, 68% of buyers agree that the number of sources used to research and evaluate puchases has also increased. In conclusion, there is a direct impact on the pressure to have a digital B2B sales strategy.
The change to a digital B2B sales strategy
Digital transformation isn’t a new concept for business leaders. But, COVID-19 has made it more urgent, with companies looking to enhance their working practices and decision making. For instance there are sectors that have long drawn out sales cycles such as in manufacturing, engineering, construction, etc. And with the increase in the numbers of B2B buyers “self researching”, its important that your business stands out. Above all, as a business you should to be on the buyers radar when they need you.
With so many touch points, a digital B2B sales strategy needs to recognize the length of the B2B sales process.
Why does it takes longer now to nurture a sales prospect?
Budgets are tighter, money needs to go further so more questions are asked, and proof required of a suitable ROI. A fear of making a bad decision means decision makers need to assess every option against a shortlist of vendors. Buyers have more options to choose from as more vendors are added to give as wide a choice as possible.
More stakeholders are involved so different agendas and an increased level of complexity takes place. Even with a relatively small buying group there are going to be different agendas which impacts the sales process. Reaching a consensus is a challenge with more people involved in the decision making process. Each member of a buying group probably has their own preferences on how they want to interact. So, you cannot reach them all in the same way or with the same sales arguments.
What can you do to generate leads?
Cold calling. Working your way through a purchased list or contact data base, seems like an easy solution.
How do you cold call effectively?
Using cold calling is tough and full of rejections. It has an extremely low conversion rate, can be a negative experience for the prospects. It also undermines your status as a trusted advisor from the first call. In addition its an experience that most salespeople if they are honest would want to avoid.
Experienced salespeople expect to spend 7.5 hours of cold calling to get one qualified appointment, according to a Baylor University study.
Generating leads to help your digital sales strategy
Today, it’s much more difficult for the B2B sector to get the attention of their target audience. That translates into weaker revenue streams and a higher cost of sales and customer acquisition. Many B2B companies are still harping back to a time when it was easy to interact with customers. You could in the old days, call and book meetings and attend conferences. There are limitations now in the traditional ways of developing face-to-face relationships. Replaced by the “new normal” requiring digital innovation to be able to show the value that your product generates.
Organizations risk getting left behind as B2B buyers become far more self-sufficient, mainly sourcing knowledge themselves online. Only contacting sales directly for help making a purchase decision when they are nearing the end of the process. This means, to stay relevant in today’s dynamic marketplace, companies need to embrace the principles of digital selling. Digital selling requires new tools and a new way of working and reaching out effectively to a remote buying audience.
Read our blog on adjusting your sales strategy for a remote audience.
A digital transformation
And that can be a big change for some sales organizations used to the “tried and tested” traditional approaches. With customers increasingly educating themselves online the most effective salespeople are those who develop a more consultative role. Using their digital tools to enable a different format for dialogue. Showing how their product can fit their customers’ needs, providing solutions that can be effectively assessed remotely.
As customers adopt different information consumption habits, they’re also increasingly moving to digital commerce. A digital savvy salesperson is able to cater to the needs of the new buying process. Digital technologies and sales strategies can help companies seamlessly sell and operate across multiple direct and indirect channels.
Companies that excel in creating a seamless omni-channel experience will be in a good position to reap the rewards. Selling is evolving rapidly to encompass a blend of traditional and digital channels. And as we’ve all experienced, sales efforts are dictated by two limited resources:
- Numbers - Researching, finding, reaching out and engaging with connected leads.
- Time - Nurturing and closing sales prospects. And doing this in sufficient numbers in the shortest time possible, to move on to the next sales prospect.
It is possible to save time and grow sales, for instance by investing in the digital processes, actions, and skills. We know that the reality is that for many companies they don’t have enough sales leads to fill their pipeline. Above all, the salesperson needs to ask themselves whether they can add value for the buyer in the sales process.
If not, then the buyer has no reason to engage and is already far along the process of making a decision themselves before talking to a vendor.
Recent changes to the marketplace
In-person corporate events typically make up a large portion of sales leads for B2B companies. In the current COVID-19 environment sales teams are going to have to be more creative. How they supplement the loss of leads, not only in terms of the number of leads but also the quality.
A recent survey from McKinsey concluded that companies think digital interactions will be twice as important as they were pre-COVID. As we continue to lose opportunities for face-to-face meetings the gap needs to be filled. Using scalable, digital processes to help you set your product and its value apart from the rest.
Read more about Alaxa's ValueVisualizer.
As buyers for instance, before we make a purchase decision, 60% of us rely on Word Of Mouth, friends, and social media, 49% on customer references, 47% on analyst reports and recommendations, and 44% on media articles (HubSpot Inbound Sales Report 2016). But before a salesperson has even started their preparations to make contact with a prospect, they are already 57% of the way through the sales process.
The new wants and needs of buyers
Now, it’s becoming more and more important for sales teams to put the needs of their buyers foremost. Think about some of the changes to how we as consumers approach buying goods and services today -
Your buyers' can now find most of the information they need about products or services by self-research. Often before they ever engage directly a salesperson. Buyers now employ numerous tactics to avoid unwanted calls and emails. In other words, buyers want to control the buying experience, and enter it under their own terms.
These shifts are just some examples of how buyers have taken control of the sales process. In addition, with these changes in mind, it's important for sales to adopt a more helpful, human approach to selling.
A few guiding principles would be:
Selling is personalised.
Throughout a sales process, you are gathering data through conversations about how to answer specific problems for the prospects. If you prematurely start to sell before you understand the full scope of the problem your prospect will lose trust in you.
Times have changed, it is no longer "buyer beware", the power lies totally with the seller. For sales professionals to be a part of a buyers’ process, they need to demonstrate how they can add value. This need to be over and beyond what the buyer self-researches, by contributing as a trusted advisor.
Selling is advisory.
Sales professionals need to build trust and a relationship with buyers to keep the lines of communication open. Become a thought leader or reference point for questions from your leads. As a trusted advisor you will also increase the level of trust by educating rather than selling.
Focus on value rather than price, sales can visualize a product's value calculations as a part of the digital sales process.
Read more about Value Selling.
Where are you on your sales transformation journey?
Regardless of size and industry, companies cannot ignore the urgent need to change how they do business. How they sell and interact with their customers needs to transition to remote selling via digitally enabled tools and platforms.
Although the move to digitally transform the sales process can be difficult and lengthy, it can also be broken down. Plan to adopt small, incremental stage changes, just like the sales cycle. Taking each stage of the sales cycle in turn, transforming the approach and then moving to the next stage.
To succeed, sellers need to be enabled with tools to enhance their digital selling prowess. Looking at the tools available to most salespeople, they are outdated, paper-based and static. Today’s digital savvy B2B buyer is looking for the opportunity to be interactive. So, if salespeople are to be empowered to match buyer aspirations, they need to digitally transform presenting their product's value.
Once sales have a solid understanding of the sales lifecycle, its possible to identify areas for improvement. Assessing sales engagement at the different stages. These insights will help you decide what engagement tools and processes can be implemented or optimized.
So, to help you fill that sales pipeline! Prioritize buyers that are active in a buying journey and build trust through digital interaction. Shift into exploration mode when a buyer expresses interest and you see an opportunity to offer advice. Not forgetting to personalize content in response to each buyer persona and adjust to the buyer’s timeline.
If you want to hear more about ValueVisualizer™ or to hear how we can help you re-invent how to work remotely with complex value calculations, don't hesitate to book a Free Consultation: firstname.lastname@example.org