How Have Sales Changed in Today’s Digital World?
If you think back on the days of door-to-door salesmen with nostalgia, we have bad news: those days are gone. Times are changing. Fast. These days, the buying process is completely different for consumer and sales rep alike.
In 2011, Gartner made a bold claim: “by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human.” Personally, I’m not sure we’ll be quite there within the next three years, but when you compare the level of human interaction now versus ten years ago, it throws into perspective how comfortable we’ve become with the idea of a fully automated world.
It begs the question: is that 85% statistic a good thing or a bad thing? The answer to that question depends entirely on how adaptive your company is. Decreased human interaction will happen. It’s just a matter of whether or not you’re ready to capitalize on the changing times and processes.
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So, let’s talk a little bit about this modern B2B sales process. What does sales look like in a digital world?
Change #1: Buyers are doing their own research
The internet has brought with it a wealth of information. Your buyer is well-informed about you, your competitors, and their needs far before they ever pick up the phone. As such, when they pick up the phone to contact you, it’s because of one of two reasons:
- They need information they can’t get online
Enterprise buyers are not likely to find specific pricing or recommendations for their unique situation on a web page.
- They’re ready to make a decision
Today’s buyer is used to instant gratification. They don’t want to wait.
Your Response: The information they need, right when they need it
If your sales playbook still has you introducing the client to basic concepts they’ve already gathered from online research, that needs to change ASAP. They know what they want, and they don’t want to have to sit through five sales calls and boring sales pitches before they finally get what they’re asking for.
Beyond revising your messaging, you also need to make sure you’re doing everything you can to respond as quickly as possible. If your prospect sends you an email requesting pricing information or a proposal, they don’t want to wait five days for you to put it together. Consider implementing a sales enablement tool that gives you instant notifications the instant your buyer shows interest (either by calling, emailing, or even looking at a message you sent previously). Combine it with a killer mobile sales app that enables reps to put together effective presentations on the fly.
Change #2: Analytics are making the process far more effective and efficient
There’s no more guesswork in B2B sales. Instead of relying on hunches and gut instincts, sales reps can immediately know which opportunities to pursue and how to best approach them – all through the power of big data.
Not only does this cut down on wasted time and effort, but it’s also great for the customer. Your prospect gets hyper-relevant messaging and resources instead of having to try again and again to get the needed information in the appropriate format.
Your Response: Get onboard
If sales analytics are a gamechanger for modern B2B sales, you cannot afford to opt out. You can count on your competitors taking advantage of the power of big data, which will allow them to close more deals in less time. If you want to stay competitive, you should be an early adopter of this technology, not following in other businesses’ footsteps.
Change #3: The world has gone social
Everyone is on some social platform – Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, you name it. According to MediaKix, the average person spends almost two hours on social media platforms every day. They’re used to interacting with people on social media, and companies are starting to take advantage of that.
Your Response: Take advantage too
These social media accounts are a wellspring of knowledge about your prospect. Reviewing your prospect’s social media presence should be a standard part of the sales process. The knowledge you gain could provide you with the insight you need to engage your prospect effectively.
Of course, the modern sales rep doesn’t snoop on social media and then call it a day. They engage on that very platform. Send in-mail on LinkedIn. Connect on Facebook. Retweet their latest post on Twitter. As long as you’re not forcing it, social media engagement can be a tool that helps you to connect with your buyer and communicate on a platform where they’re most comfortable.
Don’t view the shift to digital sales as a bad thing. Instead, view it as an opportunity to stand out from your competition and sell your products or services more effectively. If you’d like to learn how the right sales enablement tools can help, we’d love to show you.