As in-person pitches were ushered out over the past couple years to make way for Zoom calls and digital channels and content, many business development teams felt the pressure to adapt to the evolving buyer’s journey and customer self-serve expectations. Unfortunately, some B2B companies were caught off guard and fell short in their response to the changing needs of their prospects and clients. Is your organization successfully navigating the post-pandemic digital sales landscape?
To help you take stock of your sales strategies and guide future decisions around prospecting and customer relationship building, we sat down with a select group of B2B business development leaders to gather insights and ‘lessons learned’ regarding the post-pandemic evolution of sales trends, strategies, and tactics.
We’d like to give a big shout out to our friends at Channel as a Service, Highspot, Hubspot, Impartner, Intercom, Microsoft, and Neural Impact for sharing their expertise and experience with us. Here’s a glimpse into the group’s perspectives on leveraging post-pandemic B2B sales trends to close more deals and drive efficiencies through the sales cycle:
(For a more comprehensive deep dive into the topic, check out our new 2022 B2B Sales Post-pandemic Trends: A Guide to Prospecting and Customer Relationship Building!)
Top 3 B2B sales strategy shifts since Covid
With the pandemic limiting in-person interactions, sales teams had to pivot quickly to adapt to the new digital normal. Amy Caroll, Head of Relationship Management at Intercom, weighed in on how her organization’s sales and marketing strategy shifted:
- Technology infrastructure became a priority vs. a nice-to-have. The sales teams that adapted the best were the ones that had excellent internal communications and systems of record, as well as multi-channel tools through which they could connect with customers.
- We pivoted to working with our largest customers fully remotely. To stay relevant for the many stakeholders we work with in these organizations, we became more intentional about how we structured our sales process and meetings to keep each interaction relevant.
- While trade shows and conferences were not happening, we focused more on co-marketing opportunities and running educational webinars. This helped to generate a sense of community and the dialogue we would typically have gotten from attending a trade show.
Caragh Kennedy, Head of GTM Partnerships at HubSpot, noted a similar shift in how customers were interacting with vendors, stressing that adopting a digital strategy to prospecting and selling can be fruitful. She witnessed the following changes to enterprise B2B sales strategies occurring since the beginning of Covid-19:
- Video and live chat have emerged as the predominant channels for interacting and closing sales with B2B customers.
- Buyers will spend big using remote or self-service.
- Remote engagement is successful for both selling and prospecting.
We asked our group of sales leaders to weigh in on the biggest changes they noticed amongst buyers—and how the buyer’s journey has evolved—since the onset of the pandemic. Jake Braly, VP of Global Alliances at Highspot, found buyers to be “more confident in finding, evaluating, and making large purchase decisions through completely virtual channels.”
This shift is good news for forward-thinking vendors embracing digital transformation—and is in line with industry predictions that 80% of B2B sales interactions between sellers and buyers will occur in digital channels by 2025. In fact, more than three quarters of buyers and sellers say they now prefer digital self-serve and remote human engagement over face-to-face interactions.
And buyers are putting their money where their mouth is: seventy percent of B2B decision makers say they are open to making new, fully self-serve or remote purchases in excess of $50,000, with a sizeable 27% comfortable spending more than $500,000.
While many buyers seemed more hesitant to part with budget as the uncertainty of the pandemic took hold, Amy found that companies were “embracing investing in technology with open arms, having realized how important it is in a hybrid working world.”
Sarah Kiss, Senior Manager of Partner Development at Microsoft, noticed that buying teams swelled to greater numbers and decision-making became more distributed. Adding complexity to the process, priorities shifted across the buy side organization without clear alignment from all buying parties.
Adapting to change
With vendors and customers increasingly comfortable buying and selling remotely, we asked our group of business development leaders about the implications for their B2B sales teams. The consensus revolved around focusing on process and automation to help vendors scale, and implementing the right tools to educate, engage, and connect with prospects expediently and seamlessly.
B2B sales organizations are re-evaluating their tech stacks to better serve today’s prospects who are leaning towards digital interaction, especially at the beginning of their purchase process (top of the funnel). Companies are doubling down on technology that streamlines and expedites the sales process, while enabling them to get the optimal resources and content in front of prospects at the ideal time in the buyer’s journey—from implementing lead generation, customer engagement, and content management tools to optimizing integration between their CRM and proposal management, predictive analytics, and sales content publishing platforms.
Jake’s observations summed up this strategic shift: “Sellers have to be proficient in helping buyers navigate their evaluation, be equipped with resources that help buyers understand differentiation and quantify/justify ROI and value, and go beyond this by establishing trust and rapport in a virtual world.”
The Covid-19 crisis challenged the existing rules about lead generation and customer relationship building, upending the B2B sales professional’s playbook. While the trend towards more digital B2B communication and fewer in-person interactions was already underway, the pandemic shifted this transition into overdrive.
How is your digital sales strategy evolving? If you’re struggling with creating a responsive digital B2B sales model that powerfully demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of the industry and business challenges and convinces prospects that your solution effectively addresses their pain points—or if you’re just interested in optimizing your sales strategy to close more deals in a post-pandemic digital marketplace—check out our new guide: 2022 B2B Sales Post-pandemic Trends: A Guide to Prospecting and Customer Relationship Building.
This invaluable guide illustrates:
- How the buyer journey has evolved since the pandemic began
- How B2B sales strategies have shifted and what changes are here to stay
- The role of the inside sales team and how to prioritize your sales tech stack
- What skills, tools, and integrations are critical for generating consistent revenue in 2022 and beyond
As we move out of the eye of the COVID storm, the B2B sales landscape has shifted—and sales teams needs to evolve in step to keep pace with the changing expectations and needs of buyers. Download our 2022 B2B Sales Post-pandemic Trends: A Guide to Prospecting and Customer Relationship Building and leverage the ‘lessons learned’ to upgrade your sales strategy, engage more prospects, and close more deals—and get that revenue engine humming!