How should B2B sales reps adapt to their buyers?

By Anders Björklund

How should B2B sales reps adapt to their buyers?

Virtual selling. Digital demos. Remote work. Video calls and meetings. The past 15-18 months has dramatically changed sales and business. The critical question now is how much of this change is permanent.

I meet decision-makers who say anything from "Everything" to "Soon we are back to normal". I believe the two extremes in answers describe how all decision-makers have viewed this extraordinary period differently. So, whatever your answer is to the question, I have listed a couple of main takings that hopefully will help you in your decisions.

Virtual selling is better for buyers

During Covid-19, virtual selling became selling and sales. It was almost the only way to reach potential and existing customers. Customers don't seem to mind this new reality. I claim that most potential and existing customers say that remote working has made their purchasing process more manageable.

I state that the digital world is here to stay. The inefficiency of travel, in-person business meetings, and late-night dinner appointments make face-to-face meetings less common and unnecessary. Hopefully, most companies will increase their usage of data, video, and virtual relations. I hope we will not go back to the world that was.

Sales is prevented from putting buyers first

Many decision-makers that I know say they always put the buyer first. However, the reality is that very few customers agree that sellers always set the buyer first. The sellers know they should put the buyer first, but their sales organisations are barriers to implementing buyer-first behaviours. 

For instance, a few sales reps say their organisations deliver the buyer-first behaviour of providing free and easy access to product reviews. Similarly, few sales reps say their organisations stay engaged after the deal to ensure value delivery.

Sales behaviour that kills business deals

Buyers often identify behaviours from sellers that are immediate deal-killers, often around the sellers providing correct information and input to have a clear understanding of the situation: e.g. Delivering misleading information about a product, its price, not understanding the buyer's company and its needs, or not understanding the offered product, solution or service. 

Top-performing sales reps spend far more time researching industries, listening and learning about their customers and competitors, understanding trends and facts, reading about ancillary things that affect industries and companies, and being knowledge leaders and consultants.

Sales must adjust to a remote working world

Sales managers usually agree that coping with change is more critical than a few years ago. And change is coming at sales faster and faster every day. For example, one change that will likely stay with us is the rise of remote work, a situation that sales managers find difficult; most say overseeing a remote sales team is very challenging.

Sales tech is the key to build trust

Historically, sales professionals have built trust with prospects by meeting face-to-face. Unfortunately, the pandemic blocked that pathway, so salespeople turned to sales technology. Tools such as Gong or Chorus enable sales professionals to analyse transcripts of sales calls to understand the typical customer's state of mind and to anticipate their objections.

It's no surprise that investment in sales technology is increasing. Most sales reps say their sales organisation plans to invest more in sales intelligence tools. Overall, virtual selling has driven rapid digital transformation in sales. Early adopters were ready technologically for the sudden move to virtual, and now most laggards hopefully invest in technology infrastructure to support their sales reps. The early days of the pandemic were the ultimate test.

If you're looking for more advice on adapting to the new sales environment, take a look at our guide to the how what and why of digitalisation. It's also available as a downloadable PDF below.

Face-to-face meetings might be back, but what are the right customers looking for? All B2B companies need to update their lead generation approach to become more data-driven and more in line with potential and existing customers' preferences. To adapt and become modern, read our article Digital sales: Modern lead generation in B2B and learn more.

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Anders Björklund
Founder, CEO & Strategist since 2001. Anders provides thoughts and reflections about how to think about onlinification and digitalisation in B2B.
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