Traditional B2B sales methods and in-person visits from reps have almost entirely been replaced by a digital function. This acceleration into a digital format has no doubt been amplified by the pandemic, and it seems that buyers and sellers alike are welcoming the approach.

According to a recent McKinsey & Co article More than three quarters of buyers and sellers say they now prefer digital self-serve and remote human engagement over face-to-face interactions…”. Additionally, their research found: “B2B decision makers globally say that online and remote selling is as effective as in-person engagement, or even more so—and they’re not just talking about selling to warm leads. Sellers also believe digital prospecting is as effective as in-person meetings to connect with existing customers.”

So, what does this mean for the traditional field sales role? How are businesses staying on top of their sales funnel and market share? Businesses and sales professionals alike need to remain agile and adaptable in their approach to selling. Some key points to consider are:

Remember the basics

Knowing your client or customer is of paramount importance, information is king. Maintain contact and relationships with your contacts, reconnect with them about their needs and how these have changed during the pandemic.

Adapt your service or product offering

Embrace change and show your customer you are still able to meet their needs.

Look at your sales approach

How does the digital sales funnel vary from the face-to-face approach? What are your competitors doing? Use video meetings and messaging applications to your advantage. Maintain that personal touch and face-to-face relationship building online whilst in-person visits cannot take place.

Enable your teams

Provide all the tools and real time information available to your teams. Be able to accurately measure results and share this information.

According to a recent report by Accenture now is the time to “…unlock the powerful potential of tech-driven marketing, sales and service platforms. These insight-driven automated innovations dramatically improve usability and deliver hyper-relevant insights to empower the sales teams to act swiftly on crucial opportunities.”

For many this may mean an investment into online presence and sales techniques, utilising new channels and incentives to connect with your clients or customers, and employing insights such as predictive analytics and AI engines. All of which will enable better collaboration and visibility within teams and across the functions of sales, marketing, and leadership.

There are many benefits to be gleaned from shifting to virtual sales process. Adapting to selling digitally presents opportunities to businesses willing to embrace change. There will be lower costs per customer, whether acquisition or client relationship management, as visits can be conducted online. The reach of a traditional sales rep opens almost infinitely. Wider geographies can be considered, rather than relying on places that are easy to travel to. Clients and customers are also enjoying the speed and convenience a virtual, real-time approach offers.

The traditional field sales role is likely to see a lasting effect from the pandemic. Will there still be a place for the face-to-face sell in future business? One certainty is that uncertainty creates opportunity, innovation, and new ways of thinking. Old habits die hard, but breaking the cycle leads to a world of possibility.

JMR Global specialises in C level, Sales, HR, Marketing, Legal, Finance and front-office operations. Find out more about our Executive Search and Selection approach here.

References
https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/these-eight-charts-show-how-covid-19-has-changed-b2b-sales-forever
https://www.accenture.com/_acnmedia/PDF-126/Accenture-The-New-World-of-B2B-Sales-1.pdf