SalesTechStar Interview with Scott E Webb, CEO at Avionos

Scott E Webb, CEO at Avionos talks about the evolving expectations and needs of B2B buyers:


Welcome to this SalesTechStar chat Scott, tell us about yourself and more about your role at Avionos? How has Avionos evolved over the years/recent months?

I’m the CEO of Avionos, a digital consulting firm that partners with Fortune 500 companies to design and implement e-commerce and marketing solutions that deliver measurable business outcomes. Prior to my time at Avionos, I spent five years at Accenture Interactive (formerly Acquity Group), where I was instrumental in driving go-to-market activities in digital platform service for clients in the retail and consumer goods and services verticals. Throughout my 20+ years of experience within the integrated digital business and technology services space, I’ve delivered digital transformation, e-commerce, and marketing solutions for global clients including Nestle, Visa, Chevron, and McKesson.

Since 2014, Avionos had been solely serving enterprise clients with employees across the United States. In the fall of 2019, we started to face two key market changes. First, demand for our services was growing exponentially and we were being challenged by our clients to deliver on larger, more complex programs that were stressing our ability to recruit and develop talent domestically. Second, looking ahead to 2020, I was acutely aware that the U.S. economy had been experiencing the longest sustained period of economic growth in a generation. Heading into what promised to be a hotly contested Presidential Election year, I believed we were poised for a natural economic slowdown that would put pressure on rates and cost structures. I was confronted with a critical decision: stay the course with what had made us successful to that point, or disrupt our project-based service model by adding an off-shore delivery capability to diversify our cost structure and launch a new managed services offering. In the end we chose disruption, so we opened the doors to our first offshore office in January 2020 and haven’t looked back.

We’d love to dive into the theme of the moment, the need for improved digital sales success and digital transformation across industries: as brands prep for a downturn: what trends and observations are you seeing leading teams pursue today?

As we’ve seen accelerated over the last several years, there’s been an increasing demand from B2B buyers for a consistent experience across all the touchpoints that they have with their suppliers. This means that field sales, inside sales, customer service, and digital channels — whether that’s through email outreach or a customer portal — need to be consistent and share the same information in real-time. Buyers have always evaluated their suppliers by ease of doing business, so it’s no surprise that we’ve seen a lack of patience among buyers when suppliers can’t provide that level of consistency.

Today, it’s important for organizations — specifically those selling to B2B buyers — to prepare themselves to speak with one voice across channels.

Being able to communicate product availability, product information, and brand messaging consistently across channels is crucial as budgets tighten and buyers become more judicious in how they spend and what suppliers they stay with. Buyers now have little tolerance for poor digital experiences and won’t give the benefit of the doubt to suppliers that are difficult to do business with.

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How can B2B sales teams’ / marketing teams focus on recession-proofing their processes/output?

As we step into an era of tighter budgets, alignment between sales and marketing teams will be critical. This means that marketing teams must provide consistent messaging to be leveraged by their sales teams. Additionally, both inbound and outbound sales functions must align with the broader themes outlined by the marketing team. For example, if your marketing efforts are targeting consumers aged 29 to 40, the sales team must create specific paths for that target demographic to follow through the buying journey. By working together, the sales and marketing teams can focus efforts into individual customer profiles for replicable success.

One thing I see organizations struggle with all the time is that they have great content and great messaging from a broad-based marketing organization, but it falls flat once a customer tries to interpret it because it’s not specific enough. This is where the sales team needs to take those broader themes that the marketing team is providing and carefully tailor those messages down to the individual buyer.

There is still a relevant role for B2B salespeople in an era where broad-based marketing and self-service portals are growing. Customers now expect to be able to do a lot of rote work themselves, such as reordering and price lookup through a self-service capability. Broad awareness and attention-grabbing are still the role of marketers, but where the sales team needs to step up is providing value-added service to their buyers. This includes asking questions such as: Are they tailoring marketing messages to where buyers are in their business relationships? The sales team must also determine if the customer is new or has been around for a while.

Furthermore, if the customer is at the renewal stage, what actions could the sales team take to specifically make that part of the buying journey more meaningful for them? When following up with buyers with more complex sales cycles or those with multiple decision-makers, carefully tailored messaging can help nurture them along the decision path. This is where the role of the salesperson as opposed to a self-service portal truly shines nowadays.

What are some thoughts/predictions you have in mind for the near future of the economy/industries and what should be top of mind as preparations for 2023 begin?

Right now, we’re seeing a broad-based concern about the pace of buying in the first half of next year. With macro factors such as interest rates and energy pricing at play, we can anticipate some headwinds going into the new year. Despite that, there is still a broad feeling of long-term optimism in the U.S. going into 2023. There’s no sense of foreboding that we’ve seen in other economic disruptions where a particular industry is looking at a massive reset. In the latter half of 2023, we won’t see as many people having to plan their purchasing or investing decisions quarter by quarter, which presents an encouraging long-term perspective.

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A few thoughts on the future of digital sales?

Certainly what we’ve seen — particularly accelerated for B2B companies over the last two years — was a recognition that all B2B businesses have a B2B sales or B2B commerce component. Everyone was forced to confront how to digitally enable their sales processes. For some businesses, this looked like setting up transaction-based websites or portals. For others, it involved enhancing digital communication between marketing, sales teams, and customers. However, with a rapid onset of capabilities, we saw companies with wildly different levels of maturity. While everyone recognized it was necessary, organizations were at all different points of the spectrum in terms of how far along they were in truly digitizing their operations.

In the future, I expect to see an evolution from the version 1.0 that so many organizations had to adopt initially coming into the pandemic to a much more considered digital experience. Organizations that take into consideration the complexity of B2B relationships and apply thoughtfulness to the overall experience will ultimately create more worthwhile partnerships and build loyalty among stakeholders. However, this balance takes time to get right, and requires businesses to make digital transformation in sales and marketing a critical part of their overall success strategy. This means that we’re going to continue to see more innovation in the space and see this come back into more core operations of the business. How do we digitally enable our field sales and marketing teams? How do we digitally connect with our customers in more meaningful ways?

Today, it’s an economic necessity to drive value with customers and meet their expectations of being easy to do business with. We’ve started seeing this shift in 2022 and expect to see it accelerate across industries in 2023 and beyond.

Avionos designs and implements digital commerce and marketing solutions that deliver measurable business outcomes.

Scott E Webb is the CEO at Avionos

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