Think back to the beginning of 2020. The world looked vastly different. What we thought would be “just a few weeks” of remote work has dramatically changed how sales teams close deals.
After more than three years of remote and hybrid work models, we're more reliant than ever on digital tools.
Thankfully, secure digital solutions such as digital sales rooms can help sales professionals adapt to this new reality.
In this blog post, we will share our insights about how B2B sales evolved from an in-person sales process to a digital one.
The new B2B buying journey
There is no doubt that the B2B buying journey is more complicated in the digital age.
The modern buyer’s journey is full of twists and turns. Buyers have so many different touchpoints before reaching a decision.
Because of easily accessible digital information, the buyer will spend a lot of time gathering and digesting information independently before even requesting a demo or speaking with a sales team.
When B2B buyers are considering a purchase, they spend only 17% of that time actually meeting with potential suppliers.
The six B2B buying “jobs” that a buyer needs to complete successfully to finalize a purchase are:
At the same time, the buying process also involves 6 to 10 decision-makers. 77% of B2B buyers state that their last purchase was complex or difficult.
Year over year, the number of buyers involved in typical sales cycles has increased. This illustrates the hurdles modern sellers face in navigating complex purchasing decisions – with reduced influence and mechanisms to influence customer choices.
To finalize these steps, the buyer may have to go back multiple times and jump between each of the different “jobs” to arrive at a completely validated decision.
Each time and in each step, new information gathering is carried out to move forward in the process. This adds to the complexity of decision-making.
Sales must adapt to meet new expectations from buyers
Our experience from helping sales teams close more deals tells us that buyers value suppliers that make it easy for them to navigate through the buyer journey.
How do you make that process easier for buyers?
By sharing relevant information at the right time to help them through the different stages.
Buyers appreciate concrete information, such as stats and figures about your products and services and their track record of success.
They’ll appreciate it if you don’t include anything overtly self-promotional.
Highlight how customers in a similar industry have faced the same problems and combatted them successfully with your solution to build trust and provide social proof.
Focus on the customer and the problem they are facing. Put your sales targets aside and concentrate on understanding the customer’s needs to build trust and help them make the right decision.
Opportunities and challenges in digital sales
Being in the business of digital sales rooms, 95% of our sales have always been digital.
The digital sales process, like any other process, has pros and cons. Here are some key challenges and opportunities an online sales process presents.
Challenges in a digital sales process
A fully remote sales process amplifies a few challenges of in-person sales. When face-to-face communication is minimal, sales teams must identify specific ways to build personal connections in a digital environment.
- Demonstrating value: It can be difficult to demonstrate value and to bring a personal touch to a meeting. It also might be more difficult to explain and show your product within a limited time frame in a video call.
- Assessing buyers' purchasing intent: Non-verbal cues like body language are almost non-existent in the digital world. It's hard to assess a buyer’s feelings about a product.
- Creating trust: It can be harder to create trust and credibility on a personal level.
- Bringing helpful information: When customers are actively doing their own research and online education has created a more informed buyer than ever before.
- Managing buyer expectations: Expectations around free product trials can make it difficult to maintain dialog or to represent the offering in the best way if the customer is using the solution on their own.
Opportunities in a digital sales process
Digital and remote selling present many opportunities to increase efficiency and get ahead of the competition. Here are a few advantages of having a digital strategy.
Digital process automation = time saved for sales reps. There is time for more engagement and meetings when no time is spent transporting to and from customer meetings. You also get more time to review all existing sales processes and methods without sacrificing too much market opportunity.
- More flexibility to book meetings: It might be easier to book meetings with potential customers since the availability of online meetings is better than face-to-face meetings. Customers usually feel that there is less commitment and easier to accept an online meeting, which from a seller’s perspective, is a great springboard.
- Expanded customer base: A digital sales strategy might open new perspectives on your ideal customer profile (ICP) and target audience. It might be possible to reach new regions, industries, and personas when going digital compared to traditional sales.
- Reduced inefficiencies and bottlenecks: With the time for increased activity and more online meetings, sales might increase with reduced inefficiencies and bottlenecks from within an office environment.
- Reduced competition: Other competitors may struggle to transition to a digital environment, opening up further opportunities for more agile firms.
Making the most of your digital sales process
Clear communication and feedback between you and the buyer is all the more important in a digital sales environment.
Make sure to summarize the key takeaways of each digital meeting and the expectations for both the buyer and the seller. Make sure both parties commit to what’s been discussed and the next steps.
Use references and case studies to cement trust with your buyer. People always like to hear about other customers and compare needs and solutions.
When buyers have a wealth of information about your company, social proof becomes even more important to the buyer's decision.
In addition, make sure to engage and create a feeling in your buyer. Humans make many decisions based on feelings, and it’s important to create that personal relationship when meeting online.
One way to do this is to use video for your meetings, but also when presenting proposals and agreements.
Dare to be different and keep the dialog personal. Also, try to reach out through new channels, such as social media, in combination with emails and phone calls to stand out from the crowd.
Digital tools every sales team needs
The purchase journey has changed, and sales must adapt. Here are the digital tools necessary to be able to meet changing buyer needs and stay one step ahead of the competition.
CRM is core in any sales business and helps manage all customer data. It provides a structure for the seller, and based on the data and insights, the seller can take action.
Make sure to use dashboards to visualize the most important KPIs and understand the nuances of your sales pipeline.
Prospecting tools will make it easier to find the right prospects to go after.
Make sure to put some time and effort into defining your ICP by using the data from your CRM and identifying value segments and customers.
Then, use those segments in a tool like LinkedIn Sales Navigator to identify promising prospects to reach out to.
Video conferencing and messaging tools
Video is key to forming authentic connections with buyers. Conferencing tools like Zoom allow you to make online meetings as personal as possible.
Engage, ask interactive questions, maintain eye contact, and ensure video and sound are on!
You can also use video in messages to make communication outside meetings more personal. They also can capture the attention of buyers with creative thumbnails.
Don’t ignore the power of video in a product or service review context. With the help of an effortless testimonial platform, you can coax customers to share their thoughts so that, in turn, this content can motivate others to make a purchase. So long as it’s a low-friction experience, it should pay off.
Employee management tools
Employee management tools to track and measure the well-being of employees.
Carefully follow the trends over time, discuss them, and act quickly to make sure your organization stays healthy.
E-learning platforms that support certification can allow you to quantify the uptake of new digital learning modules and improve sales team performance.
Sales analytics tools
Sales analytics tools enabling recording and coaching customer meetings make it possible to understand how meetings are done and how the sales dialogue is carried out.
Sales analytics provide insights into improving the business in general and the process in particular.
Gamification tools inspire better performance and motivation.
Teams can be measured and rewarded on clear KPIs and competitions, creating a fun and engaging culture.
Proposal management and e-signature tools
Presentation, proposal, and e-signing tools are a way to simplify and streamline the sales process and create buyer engagement.
Digital sales solutions help you sell from anywhere, even the beach
Sales have officially gone digital. Buyers are overloaded with information and need help to make the right decisions.
Make sure to provide them with the right information at the right time to push them forward in their decision process.
Keep the personal touch throughout the digital sales process, and create engagement by using video and chat tools in combination with your online meetings.
Take the time to look over your ICP. There might be hidden opportunities with new target groups!
Take full advantage of and use digital tools for different functions and touchpoints.
Take the chance to look over your tech stack.
There are many great tools out there.
See you on the beach!