How to effectively manage B2B sales in evolving digital buyingbehavior

The ever-evolving B2B buying dynamics, fueled with digital-first buying behavior, is reshaping sales organizations. Moving away from individual sales professionals dominated, to a digital team’s effort, embracing digital-first go-to-market, leveraging innovative digital selling models and analytics advantage, to engage customers in a coordinated fashion through all routes to market.

The future of B2B sales will see a permanent transformation in strategy, processes, and resource allocation moving the sales organization from seller-centric to buyer-centric and from analog to hyper automated, digital-first engagements. 

B2B buyers increasingly want to engage with their vendors and suppliers using digital self-serving channels. To achieve success in this changing environment, B2B sellers need to adapt to support this shift from in-person meetings to multi-touchpoint, multi-interaction, and multi-experience buying process. 

It is anticipated that by 2025, up to 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels 60% of B2B sales organizations will transition from experience- and intuition-based selling to data-driven selling, merging their sales process, applications, data, and analytics into a single operational practice.

This is an enormous opportunity for progressive businesses, to reinvent models and build adaptive systems, to engage the “everywhere customer”. Shape a new mindset of bold business transformation initiatives, powered by a new approach to technology and sales methodology, with a nimble pivot to retain customers, protect revenues and realign go-to-market strategies to create new dynamics that ignite growth.

Channel Acceleration Digital Sales

It is anticipated that in the next five years, there is going to be an explosion in digital interaction among buyers and suppliers/vendors, breaking traditional sales models. 

Trends that can’t be ignored:

  • B2B customers radically discount the perceived value of sellers - Millennial decision-makers & customers, perceive little distinct value (beyond their learning) from sales reps. Generational preferences are compounding the trend. Millennials, the first digital natives, are now decision-makers and are far more skeptical of sales reps than their predecessors
  • Customers reward-rich virtual buying experiences - B2B customers expect easy and informative standards of B2C digital platforms. They want to fully digitize their buying operations, go paperless across all channels and streamline their supply chain with the same kind of easy-to-use, intuitive experiences that are designed for a B2C customer, and they want it now!
  • Increased digital buying means more data - Increased digital activity and information storage systems mean more and more detailed, data on customer behavior and product usage patterns. However, few sales organizations can yet capture, organize, clean, and query that data systematically — or use it to deploy even rudimentary machine learning or artificial intelligence (AI).

The adaptive future of sales 

Sales are always adaptive, today more than ever before successful sales teams need to adapt and transform their sales strategies, process, and resource allocation, around the buyer’s needs to become a buyer-centric sales organization. Adopting a digital-first, hyper automated, AI-assisted sales process to align process, channels, and capabilities around customers. Moving from analog sales processes to hyper automated, digital-first engagement with customers and brings together the following capabilities:

  • Hyper Automation, e.g., implementation of complementary sets of tools that automate and augment business processes
  • Digital scalability, e.g., through new skills and digital tools, helps sellers become digital-first sellers and transform sales enablement practices
  • Artificial intelligence, e.g., shift from highly analog decision making to automated, algorithm-based decision making, helping align sales process, channels, and seller capabilities around customers.
The future is of Leaders of selling, not sellers

Leaders must lead the way by adapting and becoming leaders of selling — wherever and whenever it happens — rather than leaders of sellers. Leveraging digital as the primary channel of sales. Shifting focus away from sales professionals and decisions based on intuition and experience, to a process based on data, analytics, and AI. 

To successfully navigate the evolution of B2B buying, sales leaders should align sales models, channels, and capabilities by: 
  • Digital sales experiences - Actively developing digital sales experiences to support customer self-learning on an array of complex considerations associated with their products, services, and above all else, the customer’s change journey.
  • Everywhere customer -  Engaging customers, where they want, when they want, and how they want, shifting to a buyer's-centric approach utilizing digital platforms and products to meet ever-evolving, self-serving, and digital savvy buyers & customers.
  • Facilitate & enable complex buying process - Strategically position sales teams to enable & increase buyer’s confidence in their own decision, without directly influencing buying decisions. Embracing a sense-making sales approach among sales professionals, positioning their unique value-add to help guide customers to decision confidence, minimizing uncertainty over competing perspectives and alternate actions.
  • Build ecosystems of support for customer change enablement, including guidance on key buying considerations, but also broader project/initiative guidance to help ensure decision complexity is minimized and customer decision confidence is maximized.
  • Shift organizational focus from sales professionals as the primary commercial channel toward digital sales channels to invest in developing rich and valuable customer decision support.
  • Reskilling and Retooling -  Dynamically adapting required digital skills to an ever-evolving buying environment. 
  • Leveraging data & AI - Using AI to execute basic sales tasks, detect buying signals and predict business outcomes, by investing in technology to support hyper-automation.
  • Enhance analytics capability - Accelerate beyond foundational analytics capabilities (such as clean data, integrated data markets) toward AI-powered insights, fueled by customer engagement data to provide the next best action and coordinated proactive actions to better retain and grow customer accounts.