How should B2B sales reps adapt to their buyers?

By Anders Björklund

How should B2B sales reps adapt to their buyers?

Online sales. Digital demonstrations. Remote operations. Video conferencing. The preceding 15-18 months have prompted a seismic shift in sales and commerce. The paramount query is to know to what extent this alteration will be.

I encounter decision-makers expressing various views, from "Everything has changed" to "We will soon return to normal". The two polarising responses epitomise the disparate perspectives decision-makers have had during this extraordinary era. So, whatever your take on the matter, I've outlined some key insights that should aid your decisions.

The advantages of virtual selling

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, virtual selling transformed from a novelty into the mainstream means of reaching potential and current customers. These customers appear to be satisfied by this new norm. I assert that most prospective and existing clients suggest that remote operations have simplified their procurement process.

The digital realm is here to stay. The inefficiencies associated with travel, in-person business rendezvous, and late-night dinner appointments make face-to-face meetings increasingly more common and necessary. Ideally, most firms will enhance their utilisation of data, video, and virtual relationships. I hope that we will not regress to the world that once was.

Hindrances to prioritising buyers

Numerous decision-makers I interact with claim they always prioritise the buyer. However, very few customers concur that vendors consistently put them first. Sellers understand the need to prioritise the buyer, but their sales structures often impede buyer-centric behaviours.

For instance, only a handful of sales representatives acknowledge that their organisations uphold the buyer-centric practice of providing unfettered, easy access to product reviews. Similarly, few sales reps affirm that their organisations maintain engagement post-sale to ensure value delivery.

Deal-breaking sales tactics

Buyers frequently pinpoint seller behaviours that are instant deal-breakers, typically centred around the provision of accurate information and input to foster clear comprehension of the circumstances: such as delivering deceptive information about a product, misrepresenting the price, demonstrating a lack of understanding of the buyer's company and its needs, or failing to comprehend the product, solution or service being offered.

The most successful sales reps devote considerably more time researching industries, listening and learning about their clients and competitors, comprehending trends and facts, studying the ancillary factors impacting sectors and companies, and establishing themselves as thought leaders and advisors.

Sales adaptation to the remote world

Most sales managers concur that the ability to manage change is more crucial than it was a few years back. Change is coming at an ever-accelerating pace. For example, one lasting change we can anticipate is the increase in remote work, a development many sales managers find daunting; most express that supervising a remote sales team is quite challenging.

The role of sales tech in trust building

Traditionally, sales professionals forged trust with prospects through face-to-face interactions. Unfortunately, the pandemic stopped this, prompting salespeople to pivot to sales technology. Tools such as Gong or Chorus empower sales professionals to analyse transcripts of sales calls, enabling them to gauge the typical customer's mindset and anticipate their reservations.

It's not surprising that investment in sales technology is on the rise. Most sales reps report that their organisations plan to invest more in sales intelligence tools. In general, virtual selling has spurred a swift digital transformation in sales. Early adopters were technologically prepared for the abrupt shift to virtual, and it's hoped that most late adopters are now investing in technological infrastructure to support their sales teams. The pandemic's onset was the ultimate test.

If you're looking for more advice on how to adapt to the new sales environment, please take 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 must update their lead generation approach to become more data-driven and aligned 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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