The Evolution of B2B Sales Part 2: The Way Forward with your Sales Team




In my first blog – The Evolution of B2B Sales Part 1 – I spoke about how the B2B space has evolved, and how the transition has been made from the traditional form of selling (AIDA model) to one that incorporates the 4Es: Explore, Evaluate, Engage and Experience. Today, we’ll take a look at how the sales force can be even more effective.

Despite the relentless drive of digitisation and the rise of Tech, people still value human interactions, and not always just in the B2B space. For example, recent articles within the wealth management space spoke of Robo Advisors. It sounds fantastic, and brings to mind unbelievable potential in terms of Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications, but in the end, the Robo Advisor is really simply an online platform. One that is convenient, given it is available online 24/7, but at the end of the day, it is still just a machine, with limited learning capabilities. It cannot replace the intuitive human factor proffered by an actual financial advisor.

And the same goes for your sales teams. Don’t believe the hype – while disruptions are happening, the way your organisation reacts to them is imperative. As shown with the example above, choices are often false. The sales team needs to evolve and use these tools at their disposal when interacting with customers at the various stages. How? You can start with the following tips to bear in mind:

  • There’s no single tactic that’s correct. It requires a mix.

As a B2B seller in today’s climate, you will need to reconfigure your selling processes more effectively and efficiently for each buying stream. The question used to be "Should I focus on digital and cut out the salesperson?" or vice versa. But it is clear that today, a mix of both is required to create the right mix for effective sales and marketing.

  • What the right mix might be, depends on which stage of the buying process the consumer is at.

In the past, it was more of a solution-based selling tactic. For example, an interested party (potential customer) might ask for references and you could cite a few satisfied customers or share your organisation’s portfolio. Fast forward to today and the advent of the Internet, potential customers can now connect with each other and get unedited versions of others’ experience through review sites or even directly from each other. As such, you need to be able to clearly identify which stage your customer is at and how you can tailor your actions based on this.

Is the customer only at the explore stage or have they already reached engaging? Different stages require different tactics and as such, knowing your customer has never been more crucial in influencing their buying decision.

  • Your sales message should be communicated clearly across the entire organisation, not just within sales teams, but within other departments such as Customer Service, Marketing, and more.

Potential customers can connect to your company brand at various touch points, be it online, offline, via marketing collaterals, and more. They have the freedom to peruse this whenever they want, and each touch point has an impact on your selling tasks. This in turn means potential customers value interaction with others at your firm, not just the salesperson; they will evaluate the whole experience based on your customer service or even delivery teams, and more. However, regardless of where they are in the buying stream, they expect these interactions to take place efficiently and productively.

While marketing and sales are different in their perspectives and procedures, they are two functions that are increasingly interdependent on each other. As such, it is important that the coordination of these interaction points be consistent and up-to-date. Every department that deals with customers, needs to have a shared vision of how customers buy and a very clear sense of the company’s strategy.

Change is Constant - ‘whatever it took to get you where you are today isn’t enough to keep you there’.

The buying process is one that is continuous and dynamic. Your organisation and salespeople need to be ready to adopt and adapt, rather than resist and reject, in order to stay competitive. Use resources and integrate as many tools as possible – from websites to white papers and even apps. Exploit the full potential of resources available, but ensure that they remain just that – tools. Because in today’s B2B climate, what’s required are hybrid solutions, a mix of online and offline, digital and human, not just a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all tactic.

As customers today get savvier and your organisation becomes more visible and transparent to potential buyers, your teams cannot afford to be reactive – rather, be aware and pre-emptive in order to reap the benefits of sustainable growth and development. The cross-functional communication and coordination that is required to evolve and navigate through changes is in the hands of management. Are you as a brand, ready to deal with this new purchasing reality?

If you’re looking to streamline your sales processes or train your team to recognise their full potential, please feel free to connect with me here on LinkedIn or comment below.

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