The 5 Imperatives for Reinventing Your B2B Sales Strategy
It’s time to reinvent B2B selling “from the ground up”. Here’s how companies should go about it.
Companies seeking to get back to growth find that they must revise their sales strategies and playbooks…and we’re not talking minor edits here: An Accenture study revealed 96 percent of surveyed respondents were preparing to outright “transform” how they sell. But why this reinvention of sales — and: how? Let’s review:
Buying is going digital — so selling must follow
Covid has accelerated digitalization while the rules of digital selling themselves continue to evolve. (think: Social Media and the rise of “B2B influencers,” or the increase in “digital native” buyers” and their willingness to buy even complex solutions online). As a result, B2B buyers are now expecting the customer-centric, highly digital experiences experts have been writing about for years.
And the sellers? Know they’ll have to change. 90 percent of the executives surveyed by Accenture said their customers see the digitalization of sales processes as beneficial. And 77 percent of CEOs stated they would “fundamentally” change how their companies interact with customers.¹
And the changes themselves are also well understood: executives know that to succeed, their sellers must become much more customer-centric, insights-driven, collaborative, and helpful. And companies that cannot execute based on these principles are already struggling.
The New Rules of Selling
So what, exactly, is new in b2b sales? Here are some examples:
- Sellers have less time with prospects and customers.
- 70 percent of buyers are now defining their needs before ever speaking to a sales. rep, almost half even identify the solution they’ll buy on their own.²
- 15 percent of B2B buyers say they’d make purchases of 1 million dollars and above online.³
- 72 percent of B2B customers are open to doing business with new entrants.⁴
There is a catch, though — or rather: A catch and an opportunity.
While the intent to change is there, the means to execute often are not: 78 percent of survey participants said they “did not have the resources” to drive the sales reinvention their customers and chief executives expect.
Some might see this as a hindrance — but you could just as easily see it as an opportunity. Because what all the numbers really tell us is:
Yes, B2B sales are changing. Yes, sales reinvention will be critical to companies’ success. And, yes: if the very last number about resources is correct, then you could bypass up to 78 percent of the market by starting to modernize and digitalize your sales today.
That’s where the big opportunity is — and I’m already seeing companies that are moving to seize it. How could others follow suit?
The New Rules of Selling
Start reinventing your sales strategy now.
To enable new ways of selling, executives should focus on shaping their strategy, operating model, and enablement around these five imperatives:
- Transform your org’s mindset and culture: overall, selling is still largely product-centered and pushy, not customer-centered and solution-oriented — a fact which is often reflected in the data sales teams have (or: don’t have) access to. This is the first thing that must change, and you stand to win a lot to change it by equipping sellers with insights into markets, prospects, competitor offerings, etc.
- Reimagine routes to market and coverage models: One of digitalization’s benefits to sellers is that they can now choose between an even greater variety of channels — and often use them at a lower cost than before. Therefore, you should review and reinvent the buying experiences you’re offering — and maybe embrace “new” pathways like digitally powered B2B e-commerce.
- Embrace “from everywhere” data and insights — this complements the point I’ve already made above: Sales doesn’t exist on an island — and sellers shouldn’t either. So, implement platforms that can ingest and analyze data from sources beyond your CRM! Then, add the capability to drive context-specific and helpful insights from these data, and ensure sellers get them at the right time and in easy-to-use ways.
- Leverage “true” AI: Sure, sales teams are already using some forms of analytics or even robotic process automation. But sellers who can harness the power of “true,” state-of-the-art AI solutions for analysis and insights generation, decision support, recommendations, and process automation are still few and far between. So here’s your opportunity: invest to super-charge your sellers’ productivity and success rates with AI!
- Focus on seller enablement: This is about using digital solutions to first “zoom in” on the things your very best sellers are doing — and then help the rest of your salesforce do the same. Think how powerful it would be if you knew the “DNA” of your high-performing sellers. If you can get the rest of your team to do what your very best “A players” do — correctly and with confidence — your results will skyrocket.
Ideally, all these steps can be taken through the refinement of a company’s existing sales models, processes, tools and resources — with no need to “throw out” existing platforms and with little disruption to ongoing sales operations.
Executives can start their journey by conducting a capability gap analysis, with a focus on the gaps that generate the most value. From there, it’s all about how you plan and execute to make the biggest impact, in the shortest amount of time with the least disruption to your sellers and customers. It’s easier said than done, but with the right focus and intent, the outcomes will far outweigh the investments you need to make.
Make Your Move
Reinventing sales starts with knowing what to optimize for — and how. Companies seeking to create a next-generation B2B sales experience capable of helping them get back to growth can begin their journey by thinking about how they’d get from the old way of selling to next-gen sales. Chances are it’s by shifting their mindset, channel strategy, use of data and AI, and seller-enablement strategies.
Please feel free to reach out directly for more information or visit our B2B Sales Reinvention page.
1 — Evolution of Customer Experience Report, Accenture
2 — Buyer Preferences Study, CSO Insights, Miller Heiman Group
3 — Buyer Preferences Study, Miller Heiman Group
4 — New Focus on B2B CX Spurs Growth, Accenture