The COVID-19 pandemic forcibly shoved B2B selling into the deep end. Many companies had to quickly learn how to swim in new waters and those that adapted have quickly become the new industry leaders.
New selling methods have emerged in the turmoil of the past year and they are going to stick with us for the foreseeable future.
In this article, we’re going to look at what trends cut the mustard and will likely set the tone for selling in the future.
Top Selling Trends for B2B
Salespeople are shifting away from traditional, offline selling to more modern digital strategies. Things like cold calling, hosting lunch and learns, printing flyers, and other archaic tactics are dying as reps spend more time on social selling and facilitating online engagement with their brand.
Tools like CRM and marketing automation are now more important than ever to managing the complete sales funnel. With up to 70% of the customer journey now happening BEFORE any interaction occurs with sales, it's imperative to have your systems dialed in to manage the new, digital journey.
Cloud based services, like sales enablement, are increasingly being integrated into the business to increase efficiency, productivity, and ultimately, the bottom line.
These digital platforms are now with us for the long haul and will be evolving and improving as new technologies emerge.
Data driven sales
Data is the new currency. Full stop. To that end, more effectively you can collect and interpret your sales and marketing data, the higher your success will be in the new digital market.
This is becoming increasingly important as potential customers are beginning their buying journey with online research.
In fact, buyers are consuming at least five pieces of high value content on their own without ever speaking to a sales representative. Remember, 70% of the buyer’s journey is done digitally, so with less interaction between salespeople and buyers, gathering data is more important than ever.
Another startling statistic - 75% of marketing content is never used by sales reps. One huge opportunity that most B2B sales organizations miss is collecting data on what content sales is using, and how their prospects are consuming it.
Tracking metrics on what content is being used, how much engagement it's driving, and how it's facilitating deals will help marketing create content that both buyers and salespeople find valuable.
Did you know that millennials have taken the workforce by storm? In fact, they make up over 45% of B2B technology buyers. With a generation that has information at their fingertips for most of their lives, it should come as no surprise that about 80% of buyers won’t make a purchase until they’ve read reviews of the product or service.
More than that though, they’ve adapted their B2C buying habits and have applied them to their B2B buying habits. They place a higher value on their own personal researched than the word of salespeople and company websites.
They are using free trials, peer referrals, and user reviews to help them make buying decisions. They find that customer reviews are particularly useful because they are usually without bias and more trustworthy than marketing collateral.
These trends are likely to continue evolving long into the future.
Sales and marketing alignment
Oh sales and marketing, can’t we all just get along?
Well, it seems we can. In the past, sales and marketing have found themselves separated into silos that caused inadequacies and customer misconceptions.
Given that 75% of marketing content is never used, those inefficiencies shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
As more and more companies start to see the value of aligning these two departments the numbers reflect the impact. Organizations with sales and marketing alignment are up to 67% more efficient at closing deals and drive 38% higher revenue than their competitors.
Utilizing platforms like marketing automation and sales enablement can help B2B sales and marketing teams dramatically increase productivity, content utilization, and customer engagement. All of which stems from better alignment.
If you want more information about the benefits of sales and marketing alignment, check out our on demand webinar on the subject. 👇
In B2B sales, LinkedIn is where it’s at. Sharing relevant, high value content with your contacts is proving to be an effective way to build your personal brand and separate yourself from the pack.
It helps you establish yourself as a respected thought leader in your industry and can gain you massive amounts of organic reach.
One of the most important things to remember with social selling is to post regularly to share your knowledge and maintain a dialogue with your contacts.
Don't let it all be about product or your company. Share industry insights, tips and tricks, career experiences, etc. Anything that's genuine and helpful is the best bet for success!
Automating sales tasks that have traditionally been done manually is becoming not only more popular, but more and more a necessary.
Some brands have already seen a 225% increase in the volume of prospects that converted to sales opportunities with lead nurturing sales automation.
By using automation to handle repetitive tasks like keeping CRM data up-to-date and accurate, sellers are freed up to do what they are good at and what they want to do. Sell!
Marketing automation also has a huge rollover impact on sales as well. Being the system that collects, manages, and coordinates all of your lead nurturing activities, it needs to be front and center alongside your CRM to help manage the entire sales cycle.
For more information on how marketing automation can improve pipeline management, check out our podcast on this topic!
As mentioned before, today’s buyers are experts at finding the information they’re looking for online. Reaching out with a generic sales pitch isn’t likely going to sway them.
You must approach prospects with something creative, original, and personalized. With more and more data now on hand, much of the buying experience can be personalized. From communication channels and style to the insights and information delivered, it’s all fair game.
B2B personalization illustrates to the prospect that that you understand them and their pain points. The communication of these insights needs to be well timed and evolved from previous interactions.
Better trained and continuously coached salespeople
Just because AI and MarTech systems in sales and marketing have become the norm, doesn’t mean that salespeople aren’t as valuable as ever. A personal connection is still one of the most important elements of managing a deal.
That’s why training and coaching are key. Automation allows you to send thousands of emails all at once, but without a detailed and specific strategy in place, using that kind of tool can end up doing more harm than good and can impact the reputation of your brand.
A personal touch needs to be involved in the sales process. Carefully selected targets and personalization play a major role in driving in success. Communication needs to be personalized based on the specific needs and challenges of prospects. Sending blanket emails without thought is an instant recipe to turn people off.
Without proper sales training, using automation and other technology can amplify deficiencies in your sales process. To steer clear of that, it’s becoming increasingly important to ensure the sales team has access to training and coaching regularly.
Easy access to training material will decrease the time it takes to get new hires up to speed and can provide veteran sellers with the skills they need to navigate in a digital world.
Final thoughts on current sales trends
The COVID pandemic forced companies to adapt quickly. But just because the industry leaders had to move fast doesn’t mean that they did do so recklessly.
Sure, we've all experienced some growing pains and a little bit of trial and error, but largely, the new strategies and processes that have come on the heels of change are here with us to stay.
How are you navigating the paradigm shift?