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April 22nd, 2021

Emerging from the Pandemic – A Shift for B2B Sales Leaders

With many businesses in England reopening their doors for the first time since December, we hope like many that when we say we’re getting back to normal, it’s the last time we have to say it.

No doubt there are players in B2B who have been patiently waiting for these industries to awaken from their enforced slumber, but as they do, they’re waking up to a very different landscape.

With these recent developments in mind, our B2B division look at what has changed over the course of the previous 12 months, and the two main themes we see emerging from the pandemic.

B2B has gone omnichannel

Omnichannel in B2B was often considered the norm for tech firms and digital first businesses like start-ups. However, the pandemic has changed that. Today, the omnichannel engagement in B2B is the norm – not the exception.

Therefore , this means that it’s here to stay – and the statistics make for stark reading. McKinsey’s latest round of research on the topic shows that two thirds of B2B buyers prefer remote human interactions or digital self-service. According to a study from CES and Google, the importance of digital engagement is paramount, with B2B buyers now completing 57% of their buying process online, before they ever contact a sales rep.

At Golley Slater, we have been helping our clients as they pivot away from legacy sales models to futureproof strategies for efficient prospecting and development of larger sales pipelines.

The key change we have seen – and expect to continue to see – is the fusion of sales and marketing, bridging the siloes which have long existed. Digital is no longer an option or an add-on to sales-oriented business, but instead, it’s a problem to share with marketing to create the new customer journey that allows you to deliver your proposition to the right people, at the right time, via the most effective channel.

Sales staffing model

Hybrid sales models also look set to stay. McKinsey explain that a hybrid seller is a rep who engages customers through omnichannel media e.g. video, phone, apps, and the occasional in-person visit. The question remains for sales leaders is whether their existing teams can adapt to this post-pandemic environment.

McKinsey state that two thirds of B2B buyers prefer remote human interactions or digital self-service, making this model the lead sales role. However, only 23% of B2B sales reps believe they are equally effective selling virtually as they are in a live, onsite setting, according to Gartner.

Home working looks set to stay too. Earlier this year, the ONS announced that nearly half (46.6%) of all those in employment did at least some work at home. With that in mind, will buyers even be in the office to take meetings? This change in behaviour looks set to make it even more challenging and complicated than ever for B2B companies to prospect and generate new leads.

At Golley Slater, we’ve been chatting to clients – old and new – about the recruit vs. outsource discussion, and which has the most value – internal industry knowledge or external discipline expertise?

Businesses have a set of core competencies, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they do everything well. In sales, a technical team for a complex product or solution will be able to close the deal, but they might not be great at keeping the funnel flowing with new opportunities.

In making the decision to outsource part – or all – of your sales process, there are several benefits:

  • The outsourcer is completely focused on performance outcomes for clients. As such, they will allocate the right resources to deliver results, which can be a significant shift away from carrying existing teams who need to pivot to new working patterns and business models.
  • Outsourcers provide the flex and fluidity to tight timescales to enable the scalability of client programmes as necessary, such as when a business is entering new markets, seizing time-specific opportunities, or scaling back quickly when the market retracts.
  • B2B organisations can lack a sales culture, and as a result get by with average performance. The culture in an outsourced sales agency is focused on making clients the hero, and that can only happen by exceeding output expectations. Link that to the uncertain future of corporate HQs and future remote working, trying to run a remote internal sales team without a sales culture will be a challenge.

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