The Coronavirus pandemic accelerated a change that had already started, towards digital buying and the diminishing influence on the sales cycle by in-person selling. More than ever, the composition of sales teams, how they sell and how they’re managed must now adapt to this rapidly changing world, but tech can make the journey smoother. Let’s find out more.
With the ever-shrinking buyer’s journey, how people buy today, the changing demographic of our buyers, the rapid expansion of digital buying coupled with a hike in competition, the job of selling and connecting with buyers “in the moment” has never been more difficult and critical.
We all hope live events will soon be back in the calendar, but it’s likely that these will be far fewer and more controlled, which greatly reduces the opportunities for face-to-face business interaction. The time is now for tech solutions that connect sellers with buyers on a timeline that suits them – making the marriage in real-time.
In this short article, we’ll look at the impact of this change and how tech helps sales and marketing teams meet the challenge. We’ll also look at the cultural shift that needs to happen if teams are to succeed in this new age and highlight some hard truths.
The pandemic has accelerated the move to digital
Make no mistake; this change was coming. A McKinsey study found that between 2016 and 2019, the proportion of B2B buyers that prefer to make purchases through self-service channels rose from 48% to 62%.
But, the pandemic has created a new sense of urgency. In its recent Future Of Sales research, Gartner’s analysts predict that by 2025, 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will take place in digital channels.
In other words, B2B buyers are buying digitally, and organisations need to change to a ‘digital first’ way of thinking to deal with the impact of this paradigm shift.
This requires changes in culture and technology.
Progressive marketers recognise that they need to make the sales and marketing “marriage” happen in real-time.
Our buyers need instant gratification and quick responses, or they will go to the nearest competitor.
Sales and marketing are combining to embrace more seamless digital experiences and harmonized touchpoints, which enable customers to navigate the complex purchase process. Gartner refers to this as sales adopting a more “Sense Making” approach -- a way of developing mental frameworks that help customers prioritise objectives and qualifying trade-offs to make the process of decision-making much easier.
Our expectations of consumer brands, which are already exploiting data and technology innovation, is recalibrating customer expectations in the B2B world.
The bottom-line is, it’s all changing.
Fast and first
With B2B customers discounting the value of sales and with buyers doing the bulk of the evaluation online now, if an organisation’s sales team is to influence the decision, they need to move fast.
They need instant visibility of who’s in-market and who’s active to buy. Even data that is one or two hours old is not really good enough. To truly be able to connect sellers and buyers, the information exchange and connectivity needs to in relative real-time or “in session”.
This is where technology can help, and it’s fast becoming the go-to sales weapon in the fight to engage how today’s buyers buy, plus how marketers drive their lead quotas.
Let’s pause and view it from a marketer’s point of view.
Marketers also needs to recognise this shift as demand generation gets tougher. Let’s think about this logically.
The 'Traditional Demand' Gen Process (and the problem with it)
We spend a ton of money driving potential prospects and customers to our website or marketing assets. We then spend more money on content (lots of it) and endless forms with the aim of capturing data to qualify. Then we sync with a marketing automation platform which does its magic in a variety of ways to ultimately route a potential lead to a salesperson or pre-sales team.
This process is common in most B2B businesses (although frequently broken), but it lacks a simple outcome.
In most cases, by the time that contact or perceived qualified lead lands in a CRM system and triggers a task for someone to follow-up on them, that lead (who first started their journey on your website browsing content and who clicked-through from an email or from an advert) has long gone!
Time kills everything. This process, whilst still has its place, is now somewhat obsolete.
We should want to meet prospects in the timeframe or moment that suits them.
Sure, there’s a process of natural qualification to follow to ensure it’s not intrusive and not a waste of time, however this is now THE battleground for both sales and marketing teams.
Introducing A Newer, Better Process: A Prime Example
Let's paint a picture with Drift, one of the many SalesTech platforms out there that can help you get ahead of the game.
One of the great things Drift does is that it allows salespeople to get instant notifications when a known account or contact is visiting a tagged website or campaign landing page, largely through chatbots.
A chatbot can facilitate human-like and conversational exchanges that your sales teams can monitor and, at the opportune moment, take action on. For instance, by stepping into the chat and speaking with a visitor in real time -- at their most interested and engaged moment.
To learn more about how that works, here are some related resources:
- How LeadFabric and Drift Generated $1 Million in Pipeline in Only Six Weeks [Blog]
- How to Drive Revenue with Chat Solutions [eBook]
And Drift isn't alone. SalesTech is obviously a wide terrain full of SalesTech vendors each with their own specialties. Some of our favourites include:
- Zift Solutions
For more info on Drift and/or other SalesTech solutions, our team of experts is just an email away.
Enabling a cultural shift
To meet the challenges of this new age of selling, teams need to change their cultural mindset completely.
Millennials are becoming the next generation of decision-makers and there is a lot of mistrust between millennial buyers and boomers or Gen-X sellers.
Gartner research found that millennial buyers are 2.2 times more likely than the average to be sceptical of a salesperson’s claims. It’s no surprise that 44% of millennials prefer never to deal with a sales rep at all when they buy!
So, how do sales teams need to change?
Organisations with BDR teams fare much better than teams without, as these younger, more digitally-savvy salespeople are effective at bridging the gap.
Sales teams also have to invest in the best technology that provides younger buyers with the rich experiences they demand. Then, they have to trust the tech. In the end, even the most set-in-their-ways boomer salesperson will be won over by results.
To conclude, it’s essential for technology to support sales and marketing leaders during this change. The goal is to bring these leaders together on a common framework, to deal with the challenge of digital, a new profile of buyers and different routes to the deal. With this support, salespeople can change the status quo and carve out a new future, rather than be reactive to it.
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