As we begin to downsize this year, 2022, it is clear that the pandemic has permanently changed the way customers prefer to shop. Organizations that adapt to meet their customers’ expectations will be more competitive next year, and companies that do the best job of leveraging technology and data to sell smarter will be the most successful. The need for digital investment is clear: 80% of B2B sales engagements will be made digitally by 2025. These are the B2B digital sales trends that we hope to prioritize and deliver strong results in the coming year.
Invest in technology that improves B2B shopping experiences
Before the pandemic, the B2B purchasing model was based on one-to-one relationships between buyers and sellers. Now, after nearly two years of travel restrictions, social distancing requirements, and massive advancements in B2C customer digital experiences, B2B marketers must rely on technology to deliver efficient, personalized service that meets the changing expectations of their customers. buyers.
Instead of calling or emailing their sales rep, buyers now want to digitally engage across all channels. To deliver, sellers must adopt integrated sales platforms, leverage Al and analytics to create and refine personalized shopping experiences, and create a unified data structure that eliminates silos.
These are investments in technology that consultants have been encouraging companies to adopt even before the pandemic began, and now buyers are more tech-savvy than before. They are also educating themselves more before engaging with sellers.
To meet buyers where they are now, sellers must embrace technology that helps them move away from a fragmented product orientation to a more value-based consultative selling practice. Integrated or guided sales platforms allow sellers to meet buyers wherever they are in their research and purchase process.
Do more with AI in sales
AI-powered platforms require data science and analytics, working with clean data to determine the propensity of customers to buy and generate the next best offer. For example, a lot of work is being done on facial recognition so that when you are in a virtual meeting with a client, you can understand their intention based on their facial micro-expressions and body language, as well as the content of their conversation.
Because every customer engagement creates more data, and because there are now so many channels for engagement, eliminating silos and creating a strong data infrastructure is critical to managing, protecting, and leveraging that data.
Investments in artificial intelligence and automation can bring additional benefits to sales teams. For example, sales tools that automatically capture and upload buyer and seller engagement activity to CRMs prevent sellers from having to enter that data manually. That frees up time to conduct deeper customer research, gather AI insights from data, and create more meaningful interactions with buyers.
Over time, as buyer engagement data grows, AI analytics can generate increasingly accurate recommendations to improve sales forecasting, customer engagement, and sales effectiveness, as well as create product suggestions. hyper-personalized to drive cross-sell and retention.
Embrace self-service options for your customers
Even before the pandemic, Forrester’s research indicated that the US B2B ecommerce market will be worth $ 1.8 trillion by 2023. Plus, because most of us have spent so much more time doing consumer shopping online since early 2020, B2B shoppers now expect the same kind of seamless, omnichannel shopping experience.
Because buyers have so many channels they can use to educate themselves – social media, digital communications, blogs, videos, podcasts, and peer interactions – they can often complete their decision making without having to interact with a seller.
This may sound like bad news to sales professionals, but it offers a whole new set of possibilities for adding value. On the one hand, a well-designed self-service experience can deliver the kind of consistent, frictionless interactions that build customer trust and build brand loyalty, all without any work from the sales team.
Just as important, self-service automates simple sales and education processes that don’t need human involvement to be successful.
Focus on guided selling
Self-service frees up sales teams to offer more highly personalized white glove service, up-sell and cross-sell recommendations, and guidance for customers investigating more complex purchases. Additionally, AI analytics can guide the sales team through each buyer’s journey, providing team members with detailed insight into buyers’ questions and needs.
That process enables sellers to create more personalized and engaging interactions with customers – exchanges that quickly respond to customer questions and help meet customer needs.
With a guided selling platform to deliver customer insights and more time to focus on customer needs through self-service and AI analytics, sales teams can develop and strengthen customer relationships faster. They can also provide more authoritative upsell and cross-sell recommendations and execute sales more quickly. These changes can increase revenue and lower cost of sales.
Train for advisory skills
Sales teams may need new skills to play the more consultative role that technology creates for them. For example, they may need to know how to get the most value from digital sales room customer meetings to answer questions in real time as shoppers move through immersive digital experiences that educate them on their options.
The old approach of asking the buyer a series of questions to identify their needs may not apply in these situations, especially when AI can help answer those questions before the buyer and seller even commit. Salespeople may also need advice on how to sell more complex deals for their organizations.
With new technology to support shopping experiences, sales professionals spend less time on routine tasks and simple transactions. With more personalized information to guide sales inquiries, your sales team can create more value and drive revenue while delivering the B2B experience customers want in 2022.
Image credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thanks!