B2B buying behavior continues to change – how can you respond to the change in sales?
This blog series discusses B2B sales trends based on a Linkedin State of Sales survey. Linkedin conducts an annual State of Sales survey of its users. The latest study highlights in particular the need for change in sales processes, this change actually began even before the Covid19 pandemic. The corona pandemic has only further accelerated this change. Our blog series highlights the key findings of Linkedin’s State of Sales survey in B2B commerce, and considers how B2B solution sales could be developed to better respond to changes in customer buying behavior.
In our blog series, we specifically address the following themes:
How do you respond to the change in purchasing in B2B solutions? Part 1 of the blog series.
This spring, various digital collaboration services like Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and Zoom have become an integral part of our sales work. Solution sales have become much more challenging when you have not been able to meet your customers face to face on the spot and thus ensure your customer’s undivided attention. Regardless of the pandemic, customer behavior in B2B sales will change and customer behavior in B2B commerce will continue to become increasingly consumer-oriented in the 2020s.
However, the tremendous growth in the use of virtual collaboration services and the growing use of new sales technologies in general is just one change in B2B sales. According to a Linkedin State of Sales study, nearly half of salespeople are increasingly less likely to get customers directly into the conversation. Again, nearly half of sales people also estimate that sales cycles have also continued to lengthen. This study is also consistent with Gartner’s research, and a general understanding of B2B sales trends.
How do you reshape your B2B sales process to reflect a customer’s changed buying behavior?
The declining ability to reach customers and the change in customers’ purchasing behavior place significant needs for change in companies’ sales processes. B2B sales processes must therefore be developed to better reflect the change in purchasing. We addressed the consumer taste of B2B buying and the behavior of the new generation of buyers in our three-part blog series “What B2B Sellers Should Know About Buyers in the 2020s?”.
It must be possible to respond to a change in the customer’s purchasing behavior with a renewed sales process and related measures that fit better into the customer’s purchasing process.
When traditional outbound-type contacting have become more difficult, it is important that the customer has an easy-to-use digital sales channel where the customer can learn about and analyze the selling company’s solutions, delivery terms and other information that affects the acquisition.
Sales cycles lengthen – How can you make sales more efficient?
According to a Linkedin State of Sales study, the sales cycles of B2B trade have also lengthened. The difficulty of contacting has certainly also led to longer sales cycles. This is certainly not the only explanation for the prolongation of sales cycles, but also the increasing complexity of companies’ internal purchasing processes and the growth of the customer’s own information retrieval forcibly slows down the progress of the customer’s purchasing process. At its best, the digital sales process is able to gather information about the customer’s purchasing process and help analyze customer behavior during the purchasing process. You can read more on our blog on how you can help the customer in the purchasing process.
The importance of digital sales channels is growing as a key customer service channel, as customers increasingly want to become acquainted with potential solutions and partners independently, in the same way that customers operate when purchasing consumer services. Companies that provide B2B services must therefore be able to utilize their own online services more widely and more efficiently to serve customers. These digital services must also be smart. For example, a digital service channel must be able to respond to a customer’s specified need automatically with a sufficiently precise solution proposal.
The importance of digital marketing is constantly growing as part of sales. In general, it is important to understand that in the digital networked world, it is becoming increasingly difficult to manage customer operations. The customer constantly encounters the company through various channels, and sales also take place as part of the company’s marketing and customer service communications. In the digital world, sales and marketing should not be separated on the customer front.
Digital channels can also be used excellently for customer activation. The strength of the digital channel is especially effective communication and its management. It is known exactly what has been discussed with the client, who has talked to whom, and on this basis there is a better understanding of how the conversation with the client could continue.
Digitization of Sales – Sales data at the heart of the sales process.
As sales cycles lengthen, the quality and management of sales quotation data becomes even more important. As the throughput of sales bases lengthens, there is a greater chance that business situations will change for both the buying and selling company. The business needs and requirements of the buying company have changed, the offering of the selling company is evolving, the product catalogs of the supplier network have been renewed, people have changed, the list could just go on! Currently, a lot of customer-related information is unstructured in companies behind individual salespersons and customer service personnel. Without well-managed information about the customer and customer needs, various changes in the customer relationship come at a cost to the selling company through lost sales opportunities and a weak customer experience.
Knowledge of the customer’s needs and purchasing behavior can be managed effectively through a digital sales channel. The data contained in the various services of the sales channel provides a unified understanding of the customer, and that data makes it possible to analyze the customer’s process. The data will also enable the company to perform better won-loss analyzes and thus develop the company’s competitiveness. Effective data utilization is one sign of a winning sales organization, and we’ll cover that in a blog later.
With a digital service channel and sales data, you make your sales win more cases and succeed better than your competitors.
The digitization of sales, sales data, and the utilization of data in sales will be discussed further in future sections of our blog series, which will now be published during the late summer and early fall.
Are you interested in developing your sales process to win more deals?
With Klaro, you can easily develop the quotation process.
Find out more about our solutions to support smart quoting: https://www.klarocpq.fi/en/make-quoting-more-agile/
Contact us and book an appointment! At the meeting, we will tell you more about your company’s opportunities to develop quoting processes.
Link to Linkedin State of Sales -report: https://business.linkedin.com/sales-solutions/b2b-sales-strategy-guides/the-state-of-sales-2020-report