Remote work, stalled deals, shrinking budgets — the challenges faced by businesses everywhere in the first half of the year aren’t going anywhere.
This puts sales leaders in a precarious position. With limited resources and mounting pressure, how can you build a strategy that’s sure to succeed? Luckily, the trends that will come to define the future of business-to-business sales are already taking shape.
From the death of traditional sales team structures to the accelerating adoption of revenue team enablement strategies, here are five trends that are defining the future of B2B sales, with insight from new Forrester research.
GOING ALL-IN ON DIGITAL ENGAGEMENTS
Don’t spend too long mourning the loss of on-site meetings and events — they’ve been on the downward trend for some time now.
In fact, Forrester reported that buyers have long turned a skeptical eye towards in-person engagements: “As early as 2017, business buyers were disillusioned with the onsite sales meeting, as one in five buyers stated they preferred not to meet with a sales rep in person. In a May 2020 Forrester Analytics Business Technographics® study evaluating the efficacy of various B2B sales and marketing methods and routes post-COVID-19, 38% of respondents said the in-person sales meeting had decreased in value.” (The Democratization of B2B Sales, Forrester Research, Inc., August 3, 2020).
This means that while the occasional deal may have been cinched by a face-to-face meeting, sellers can — and should — effectively engage buyers virtually. Boost your digital interactions with simple behavioral changes: instead of sharing slide decks via web conferences, encourage sellers to keep their video front-and-center to maintain eye contact and keep buyers focused. Additionally, push sellers to observe buyer reactions during calls and use them to draw them deeper into the conversation — validate ideas, offer tailored insights, and ask tactical questions.
With a strategic re-thinking of your sales tactics, you can ensure that regardless of the medium your sellers are making customer conversations count.
SHIFTING SALES STRUCTURES
Businesses leveraging entirely remote or hybrid teams are also seeing the opportunity to shake up traditional, hierarchical sales organization structures. This shift reflects a convergence of digital-native sellers and buyers in one place: as buyers increasingly engage online, the typical digital prospecting activities of ADRs and SDRs suddenly seem perfectly suited to closing deals, rather than just qualifying accounts.
As a result, leaders are rethinking the siloed sales approach. Forrester found that “sales leaders can use relationship analytics to identify the account manager who has the best and deepest relationships with an account or key contacts within the account, buyer behavioral data to match account- and contact-level preferred buying motions with sellers who can deliver those experiences, and pod structures to deepen an account team’s expertise and increase overall buyer responsiveness” (The Democratization of B2B Sales, Forrester Research, Inc., August 3, 2020).
In short, don’t hold back a deal because the person most likely to close it isn’t an account executive. Breaking free of the traditional hierarchies that have long defined sales organization structure can be an effective method of maximizing your sales output per head.
RESKILLING AND UPSKILLING EXISTING SALESPEOPLE
Closely related to the above is a trend toward a renewed focus on sales training and coaching efforts. This is an area that can be quite expensive for businesses to maintain; as such, it is typically first to the chopping block whenever uncertainty looms.
But Forrester recommends doubling down instead: “Training is typically one of the first budget items to be cut in tough times, but that’s a mistake in this setting. If you don’t have the funds, reallocate them from elsewhere” (The Democratization of B2B Sales, Forrester Research, Inc., August 3, 2020). Considering the conversational techniques sellers will need to master to thrive in all-digital sales scenarios, combined with new responsibilities due to shifting organizational structures, this recommendation comes as no surprise.
Make your renewed investment count by focusing on reskilling and upskilling sellers to deliver flawless omnichannel interactions. Think about the tactical behavior shifts that sellers will need to close deals and build training around those changes. Some solutions may be as simple as refreshing your sales guidance; others may require a larger initiative to implement. In both cases, investing in your sellers’ skills now will ensure they are prepared to meet every challenge in a shifting sales landscape.
Read the full article at: www.highspot.com