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How COVID 19 Has Changed B2B Sales

The global COVID-19 pandemic tremendously shook the nature of buying, selling, and marketing for B2B firms in numerous ways that will permanently shape their progress going forward. Traditionally, B2B organizations are not known to rush to adopt new strategies promising to reshape their approaches to marketing, sales, and customer experience. But the ongoing coronavirus crisis has done what no other world catastrophe has done in recent history – melodramatically speeding up the implementation of transformational approaches, tools, and processes.

Given new restrictions to combat the virus, the pandemic has understandably forced B2B sellers and buyers to rapidly rethink how they interact. For instance, traditional face-to-face interactions have been cut from 61 per cent to 29 percent, according to research by McKinsey. About 75 percent of B2B buyers and sellers are now preferring digital self-serve and remote engagement over the face to face interactions. This trend is expected to continue, and potentially become permanent as new strings and waves of the virus continue to emerge.

In this succinct, but edifying post, we take a look at some of the ways in which the pandemic has changed B2B sales, and what this means for such firms now, and post-pandemic.

Digital Approaches are Becoming Long-term Solutions

With limited face-to-face interactions, but an ongoing to keep businesses alive, B2B firms are moving to digital solutions at a rapid pace. McKinsey report indicates that most of these businesses are now working via either phone, video conferencing, or other digital platforms.

This goes to show that the future is digital. For ages, people have been saying that we are headed for a digital age, but that age is already here. With COVID-19 guidelines and regulations locking down companies and forcing staffers to work from home, the supply chain has been forced into a tailspin. Smart B2B firms have quickly pivoted to move sales online.

McKinsey’s studies indicate that this shift is likely to stick around, with data showing that virtual sales can help B2B companies lower their cost per visit, extend their reach, and considerably boost sales effectiveness. Moreover, B2B buyers who are currently demanding digital transformation will stick around longer.

“The shift from face-to-face sales interactions in B2B to virtual and digital processes was already underway, but the pandemic has made it a necessity,” remarked Eqol of Strategy&. He further added that it isn’t just about substituting the virtual for the physical, it’s about accelerating things such as e-Commerce in manners that enable companies to drive specs to build customer relationships, fast-track innovation, and enhance all other aspects of business that lead to growth.

Innovative Cold Calling Solutions are becoming a Mandate

Now is certainly time to relax and wait for leads and deals to come to you. It’s time for B2B leaders to put their head down and start to work. Fabricate an all-inclusive approach for customer outreach and lead generation, from all possible channels – both inbound and outbound.

From an inbound lead generation perspective, B2Bs have already done well with approaches in PPC ads, social media, search engine marketing and others. However, from an outbound lead generation outlook, cold calls are now seen as mandatory.

With the pandemic, the in-person trade shows and events are cancelled, which has left the sales teams without an influx of inbound Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs). This is time to start bringing on board professional remote sales reps to make dials and book meetings.

Viewed creatively and positively, cold calling is potent and empowering. With proven companies such as SalesHive, it has been demonstrated that cold calling can actually enable B2Bs to supersede existing suppliers, identify and create new business possibilities, preempt the competition, as well as build brand reputation and respect.

The Pandemic is Changing Vendor Preferences, Considerably

B2Bs that are able to deliver on frictionless digital experiences and improved customer satisfaction, with personalized offers and competitive, market-relevant pricing are shown to gain a competitive advantage despite the overall economic deterioration. This is because the COVID-19 crisis is changing vendor preferences, substantially across industries.

Better digital purchasing (35 percent), supply availability (39 percent), and competitive pricing (40 percent) are key drivers of change in vendor preference. Two-thirds of buyers are likely to switch to a business firm that provides personalized real-time pricing.

70 percent of B2B buyers report that the current conditions are forcing them to shift their vendor preference due to challenges in working with existing vendors. Most of which are saying they are shifting to get better services and ‘great deals.’

B2B Customers are Getting Hyper-segmented

As the previous point suggests, there is a shift towards B2B consumerism. These companies are becoming ‘people’ for the first time – meaning it’s not just about value proposition, but cultural proposition as well. Personalization has long been a focus for B2C companies, but B2B buyers are now also looking for empathy and problem solving from vendors too.

Such companies want to partners with B2B sellers that understand better their realities and can solve their most throbbing pain points. To boost this aspect of business, some B2B companies are utilizing customer data to do more segmentation of their markets, and in most cases, micro-segmentation.

B2B Customers are Buying Big Online

The fear of spending big online is long gone with B2B buyers displaying a heightened level of comfort in making large, new purchases as well as reporters online. This shows the maturity of digital sales today, which has been massively accelerated by the pandemic.

A recent study indicates that about 70 percent of B2B decision-makers are comfortable in making remote purchases of over US$50,000, with 27 percent saying they would even spend more than US$500,000 in a fully digital sales interaction.

This is an indication that the digital space is no longer reserved for B2Cs or small-tickets and fast-moving parts. Today, more and more B2Bs are entering e-Commerce and willing to conduct the entire purchase process online. This trend is expected to continue, and even grow bigger post-pandemic.

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the edtiors or the management of EconoTimes

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