This is the future of B2B sales


The new world of B2B sales and embracing a digital-first approach doesn’t just mean swapping out the coffee catch-up or boozy lunch for Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
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Things have changed.

You know that of course. Covid was a sink or swim moment for businesses globally. The pandemic forced digital transformation and the sales landscape certainly didn’t go unscathed. The way we sell has changed, the way we buy has changed, and the way we interact has changed. And nope sorry, there’s no going back.

The new world of B2B sales and embracing a digital-first approach doesn’t just mean swapping out the coffee catch-up or boozy lunch for Zoom and Microsoft Teams though. It’s about future-proofing your sales approach, by building experiences that resonate with customers today, and tomorrow.

The Accenture Tech Vision Report predicts that the average adult will spend equal amounts of time in immersive worlds (hello Metaverse!) and the real world by 2034.

And this immersive world will be a key source of B2B revenue in the next 10 years.

B2B buyer preferences have changed, and so has the profile of the leaders making business decisions. Increasingly, millennials are in charge. A recent report found that APAC B2B decision makers now have twice the preference for digital interactions over traditional sales interactions, focusing on self-serve and digital ordering methods. According to a report by Gartner, by 2025, 80% of sales interactions will occur in digital channels – so long, long lunch.

Does that mean the end of the traditional sales role? No. The sales profession is here to stay; however, the role that sales professionals play in influencing sales alongside eCommerce and self-serve purchasing needs to be redefined. While the shift to digital, contactless, and immersive selling might make you want to run screaming for the hills, it’s actually an incredible opportunity. If you’re ready to embrace the change, you will reap the rewards in a crowded market.

Data-driven selling

Not only has the digital world changed the way we interact with buyers, it’s also had a major impact on the data we can access. No longer do we need to solely rely on qualitative data collected by sales teams – something I’ve seen many a sales team struggle with. Gartner predicts that 65% of B2B sales organisations will transition from intuition-based selling to data-driven selling by 2026. Data-driven selling brings together sales processes, applications, data, and analytics into a single operational practice. It’s the ultimate work smarter, not harder hack. Having the ability to leverage data at speed will have you ahead of the pack.

No more CMO?

A digital world means the end-to-end customer journey should be smooth and seamless – a perfectly contained funnel with no leaks. Yet, according to Forrester, only 8% of companies have a strong alignment between their sales and marketing departments; bringing sales and marketing together – AKA SMarketing – will get you leaps and bounds ahead. Not only does it ensure maximum conversion, results, and experience, but aligning sales and marketing departments can help generate 209% more revenue, according to Marketo. Uber, Unilever, and McDonald’s are just some of the global brands who’ve scrapped the CMO role and reshaped their leadership team to bring an end to the sales and marketing divide. And it’s not just the CMO role that’s changing – the future of the chief sales officer is to be the leader of sales (across multiple channels), not just the leader of sellers. Without a SMarketing approach, you’re leaving sales on the table.

Content and communication

Content is Queen, even in the B2B sales landscape. According to Forbes, 41% of B2B buyers will consume more than five pieces of an organisation’s content before engaging with a salesperson, which means sales professionals need to embrace social channels to connect with customers and build their personal brand. The old ‘Know, like and trust’ principle is more important than ever, so not any old content will do. You need to break patterns, stand out, and be customer-centric with hyper-personalised content. You need to understand their problems and pain points better than anyone else.

AI and automation

Multiple touch-points and savvy buyers? There are only 24 hours in a day! AI and automation are your superpowers when it comes to customer interactions. Research by Salesforce shows that 71% of customers expect real-time communication from their sellers, but most companies haven’t yet mastered the how. Automation means you can respond and add value in real-time while interacting with multiple buyers who have multiple needs. Integrated digital SMarketing campaigns using collaboration, AI, and automation, will help you to master your customer interactions and create hyper-personalised experiences.

The successful sales teams of the future are the ones that choose to stay relevant and adapt to the new breed of buyer that’s emerging. Are you ready?

Abbie White is a leader in the field of high-performance sales, and is the founder of sales transformation company, Sales Redefined. Find out more about Abbie: Our Founder | Sales Redefined