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Selling in the digital era

A sudden digital revolution affects almost every aspect of the business.
The subject of changes in the selling process has more and more often been brought up during the meetings with the clients. We have addressed this issue.

We have found ourselves in a situation where one certain thing is change.
The working methods we were familiar with have been turned upside down.
Selling and marketing have become one inseparable body which is powered by data.

Sales teams expect from marketing a clear information on the needs of the clients. The companies’ management expect from marketing some guidelines on what steps they must take to meet the needs of their clients in digitalised environment.

One may suppose that in the near future customer facing will be extremely limited. Webinars, video conversations, live chats, bots and even e-mails have become the main means of communication in B2B selling process. To my mind, these changes are irreversible.

Regardless of what we are talking about – leads, designing content platforms, dynamic e-commerce development in B2B trade – the pandemic has speed up the evolution of B2B selling in an unprecedented pace. What we are dealing with nowadays, in terms of digital transformation, can’t have been foreseen.

Let’s look at the following data:

McKinsey & Company reports that

~ 60% of B2B companies have cut their budgets.

This refers to global data.

At present, digital technologies are chosen twice as often as traditional selling interactions.

Remote selling is the norm nowadays. 97% of B2B companies have changed their go-to-market model during COVID-19 pandemic.

65% of decision-makers in B2B claims that the new model is as effective as the previous forms of selling, or even more effective.

We are referring to global data; however, some conclusions may be reached:

  • companies focus on minimising the selling costs
  • the importance of the automation of selling will increase
  • the new form of social interactions has become the norm
  • building an organisational culture oriented at data

The IT Wiz Best 100 report shows the following data about the IT industry in Poland:

“What was the positive influence of COVID-19 on IT industry?”

74% sudden digital transformation
40% demand growth on the market
37% growth of the importance of e-commerce
29% fall of the price importance
26% outsourcing included in the price
26% strategic planning

The recipients of the report point to 3 areas of key importance to them:

  • The necessity to improve the organisation’s agility
  • Providing IT security for the future.
  • Faster implementation of new products and services.

The same report states that the analysts from Accenture have made a hypothesis that business digitalisation era has come to an end. The specialists from this company claim that since everyone does the same thing, we must stop calling it unique. The report poses a question of digital revolution has shared the fate of electricity which became so popular that its presence is evident nowadays. And if so, what then is The Next Big Thing in business?

Conclusions

  • the psychological aspects of adapting digital solutions will increase
    (i.e. HR departments are going to face a collapse of teams creativity)
  • the governments will be forced to take on progressive digital exclusion
  • the significance of business consulting will grow (especially strategic consulting) in the process of realisation of IT projects

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There are three areas which should be quickly developed by the management or sales leaders (and the people responsible for sales support as well).

Area no. 1: Sales specialists need new/ other competences to sell goods effectively in the digital world.
Nowadays, the majority of B2B companies have changed the “go to market” models towards digital and remote selling. Some of the B2B decision-makers claim that the new models are equally, or even more effective than the previous ones. Thanks to digitalisation the option of controlling the selling process, from the moment of gaining the lead to extending an offer,  has grown. The enforced acceleration of digital transformation makes the sales leaders consider what skills their sales representatives need to succeed on a drastically changed market.

Traders need a new set of soft and hard skills, for instance:

/ Using social networking sites for building expert brand
/ The ability of generating leads thanks to social media
/ The implementation of automated selling wherever it is possible
/ The use of tools such as CRM to manage the partners loyalty
/ Taking advantage of digital marketing
/ Communication oriented at sympathy
/ Stimulating self-motivation and willingness to learn

What challenges are presented to sales leaders?

Let’s not expect changes in traders attitudes, let’s help them change their attitudes. It’s time for developing the skills of sales and marketing teams in areas such as working at data, content marketing, automation etc. Omnichannel and remote selling will not disappear. Most of your current and potential clients are already “digital friendly”. If you don’t adjust to their new shopping model, you won’t be selling.

One of the crucial issues is using data and business insights to help your clients make better decisions while shopping. They expect counselling which is not based on intuition and experience, but on data. The owners of businesses need counsellors who will be able to show them the bigger picture of their strategy. Such an approach requires a new definition of a seller in B2B IT.

Area no. 2: The priorities of the buyers in B2B model started to change completely.
The policies set by the government have made companies limit and redefine their expenses. E-commerce has never seen such a growth before. However, a remote running of a business doesn’t foster large IT projects. As a result, sales managers and sales teams feel frustrated.

In almost every industry the pandemic has caused recession in demand.

In many cases the needs of customers have changed dramatically. The pandemic has enforced on them new business models and the sources of income. Making new purchase is not a priority to your partners and clients. This is not because they lack resources, but because of the need to develop a good strategy in the new reality.

What challenges are presented to sales leaders?

Sales leaders must manage their teams in such a way that would help their clients solve both short-term and long-term problems. Those organisations which dynamically adjust their selling processes to the changing shopping processes, show 17.9% higher project completion rates. We must all adjust to the prolonged delivery lead time.

The prospects in many sectors have changed and the clients will be more careful, especially about huge, unnecessary acquisitions. The business environment from before COVID-19 doesn’t exist anymore. The sellers must get to know their sellers anew.

Content marketing is the king. Wydarzenia on-line związane z przywództwem w cyfrowych czasach, seminaria internetowe, niestandardowe treści, kreatywne / bezpośrednie wiadomości e-mail, case study i referencje w formie webinar’ów itp – w tych zmieniających się czasach interakcje z klientami i spostrzeżenia dotyczące ich zachowania mają kluczowe znaczenie dla przetrwania wielu organizacji.

At present, marketing is expected to constantly deliver the content and reports which bring valuable business insights.

Content marketing is a king. On-line events concerning the leadership in digital times, webinars, nonstandard content, creative and direct e-mails as well as case studies – in times like these the interactions with the clients and the observation of their behaviour are of key importance for the survival of many organisations.

Nowadays, a lot of sales directors and traders do not consider marketing as a separate part.

In B2B IT marketing is becoming a form of pre-sales and has merged into the sales department.

Area no. 3: Reluctance to move over to a digital selling model.
Most of sales leaders understand the significance of the changes and using digital means; however, facing such radical changes is not easy.

A lot of great sales representatives and traders follow their intuition in the realisation of projects. They perceive digital tools, the analytics (misinterpreted as a controlling tool) or digital marketing as obstacles in their everyday tasks.

Bear in mind that all the companies you do business with thread on the same thin ice as you do. They need to find themselves in the same uncertain and unpredictable environment.

What challenges are presented to the sales leaders?

The rapid increase in using digital media in the B2B buying process means that the companies must think not only about effective digital interactions with the clients, but also how to redefine the role of a trader. Selling in digital era requires the same discipline and standardisation as the selling from “before COVID-19”.

Standardisation, automation and scalability.

The necessary thing to do is determining a standardised operating mode for the new environment.

To be precise, for instance how much time should the traders spend on generating potential projects and on cultivating the relationship with the current clients.

The leaders may help the sales forces master digital communication in digital era through active coaching, in the areas such as using social networking sites or lead generation solutions in order to win new customers. The sales forces need to be shown how new technologies make selling faster and smarter.

Being a sales director is hard work

/ You must lead the innovations
/ You need to help your team keep up with the trends and new technologies enhancing the sales
/ The solutions you sell may turn out to be unsuitable
/ Your business partners suddenly lose their accounting liquidity
/ You must fight for determining the selling plan which frequently doesn’t suit the new reality

What is worth reminding:
/ This is a hard time for us all

Which is why all your trade talks must present you as a resilient and dynamic partner.
/ Empathy is crucial

How can you help your partners and clients become stronger, more effective and cheaper?
/ There is no time left
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In a lot of cases there is a need to remould the portfolio of the products and services currently on offer so that the clients get real-time support.

Never stop introducing innovations, test and perfect your approach to the selling process and marketing. Unpredictable times create great opportunities …
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If you are looking for a reliable partner to help you undergo digital transformation smoothly, contact us.

+48 530 318 786
info@digitalneuma.com
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Sources:
01 / https://medium.com/rga-ventures/rethink-data-fafc41481bc0
02 / https://www.accenture.com/_acnmedia/PDF-126/Accenture-The-New-World-of-B2B-Sales-1.pdf#zoom=40
03 / https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/how-b2b-sales-have-changed-during-covid-19#
04 / https://www.hubledigital.com/blog/covid-19-b2b-sales-process-digital-transformation

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