Like many industries today, B2B sellers are still navigating the rapidly changing currents of digital transformation – accelerated in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all messaging – users and clients are now looking for focused marketing and a tailored sense of functionality for all interactions. Accordingly, processes like in-person meetings or cold calls are being replaced with intuitive digital communication, custom-made for the needs of each individual client.
Sales representatives are now just one of the many sales channels at buyers’ disposal, and sales teams would do well to position themselves to support, rather than compete, with new, digital B2B buying habits. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2025, 80% of B2B sales interactions between buyers and suppliers will occur on digital channels.
So, how exactly can B2B sellers reclaim relevancy in a digital world? In today’s industry landscape, data is the digital drachma – a currency of potential insights that, when embraced, can provide salespeople with the information and insight they need to adjust to new consumer preferences and thrive under rapidly changing digital circumstances.
The need for change
Today, millennials and Gen Z comprise more and more of the adult population, and their once-atypical consumer preferences are now a key driver behind digital transformation – in sales and beyond. In a world where 44% of millennials prefer not to deal with a sales representative during B2B interactions, sellers and sales strategists must turn to technology that allows for individually customized outreach across multiple digital channels. In short, only through the perfect blend of personal touch with digital ease can sellers successfully court new users.
The shock of the pandemic certainly jumpstarted a widespread awareness of this growing necessity, but some CROs and sales leaders still have yet to fully accept that buying preferences have permanently changed and that the role of sellers has evolved in turn.
A complicating factor of this multi-channel dynamic is that the influx of information and service offerings can potentially overwhelm buyers. Research has found that higher levels of buyer uncertainty regarding a product led to a decrease in the likelihood of purchases.
So how can businesses offer more communication channels and more targeted information to potential customers? It’s a challenge that can be critical for B2B companies and which can only be overcome with organization-wide changes. This means sellers must jump headfirst into the digital era… and let data guide their plunge.
The key in three words: Data, Data, Data
Though a critical first step, recognizing the need for change can open an even more daunting question: What first? Here’s where data becomes the not-so-secret sauce for success – embracing big data analytics allows salespeople to capitalize on opportunities with greater efficiency and accuracy than previously afforded to B2B enterprises.
For example, leveraging real-time market intelligence allows sales teams to not only discover new potential clients, but to identify the specific client needs that will best dictate the way to approach them and complete a sale. Revenue intelligence – a new data stream that shows business users how to integrate enhanced analytical capabilities within their workflows – is helping to make data-analytics a seamless part of pre-existing processes, minimizing disruption while maximizing insights. Meanwhile, predictive analytics can analyze market trends and develop flexible models for anticipating demand for specific products.
These unique, case-by-case implementations of data analytics can make the notion of big data a little less daunting for those just beginning to explore its potential and can help B2B sellers stay one step ahead of competition as they navigate shocks like the pandemic, the supply chain crisis, and more. B2B sellers would be wise to take advantage of these methods along with data-driven knowledge centers for identifying and reaching new clients in a targeted manner. It’s no surprise, then, that data-driven tools like revenue intelligence and conversation analytics have actually been proven to help salespeople make smarter sales.
Bright B2B horizons
The good news: As digital buying and selling grows in prevalence, it will create even more data around B2B selling trends – data which in turn can facilitate more efficient digital sales interactions. Enterprises that buy into this positive feedback loop of data creation and analysis will facilitate long-term satisfaction for buyers and sellers alike and make the process of B2B sales more productive overall.
Because today’s buyers radically underestimate the value of salespeople, the sellers who are able to get onboard in the digital age by using data-driven insights will be able to set themselves apart. Even with data at its core, sales engagement has not gone away – the rules of engagement have merely changed.