What does it take to get a purchase order without ever meeting your prospect in-person?
This question is the foundation for the evolving new sales model and it is definitely here to stay.
The dynamics of the modern B2B sales model have changed. As Gartner points out it is not a surprise that only 17% of the entire B2B buying process is spent meeting with potential suppliers. The nature of the B2B sales model has become less predictable.
Traditional Vs New approach
Traditional sales interactions such as face-to-face meetings, conferences, and tradeshows have declined significantly. But when we examined closely, the decline had begun well before the pandemic.
Virtual connections with prospects have been steadily increasing since 2015; all that pandemic did was just accelerate the adoption of the virtual sales model. Both SMBs and enterprises have embraced digital sales interactions, in fact, it has doubled compared to traditional sales interactions (i.e. in-person meetings, conferences, and trade shows).
Source: McKinsey & Company
After all business travel expense (T&E) is the second biggest controllable expense for companies making up on average 10% of their budget. Avoiding unnecessary in-person meetings has helped companies significantly reduce the cost of sales.
Even the buyers have become accustomed to signing purchase orders electronically without ever meeting the vendor in-person, thanks to the advent of SaaS.
Today’s buyer’s decision-making process in B2B sales involves thorough research, comparison with competitors, reviews, free trials, and then the aspect of the purchase. This means we got to look at the B2B sales model with a different lens.
“Customers appreciate the fact that they don’t have to pay for your flight tickets.”
It is no wonder that companies are finding value in the new and improved sales model. This could be the reason that inside sales in the US are growing 15 times faster than field sales. A 2020 McKinsey & Company survey of B2B decision-makers found that,
80% of the companies are “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to maintain their new sales model.
The missing piece in the digital sales
While virtual meetings, calls, emails, and voice mails are great, they do not match the impact of a face-to-face meeting. In-person meetings offer the opportunity to build trust, which is the most important quality that buyers seek from vendors. The Linkedin survey on the state of B2B sales ranked “Trustworthy” as the topmost quality that they look for in a vendor.
Face-to-face meetings also allow you to better engage and understand the prospect. Now the challenge is, how do you incorporate the missing pieces in digital sales?
How companies build trust and engage virtually?
When we examined how companies are managing to build trust and engage virtually without face-to-face meetings, three trends stood out.
Prospecting via Video emails
While virtual meetings have been happening for quite some time, virtual prospecting via video emails has become the weapon of choice for the SDRs. Videos allow you to show the real authentic you and build trust.
The usage of video emails has increased by a whopping 53% in 2020.
SDRs are also directly sending video messages on Linkedin to their prospects to get their attention.
The results are 3X better response rates and giving a face to otherwise boring emails.
46% of the B2B buyers say responsiveness is one of the most important qualities they look for in a vendor. Live Chat has become the preferred mode of communication in the world of virtual sales.
Live Chat usage has grown by 90% in Enterprises and 130% in SMBs, the highest compared to any other digital sales channels.
The buyers get answers and clarify doubts quickly without wasting much time over the phone or zoom meetings. This also provides the opportunity for the vendors to showcase their expertise in the field by helping buyers solve their problems.
Interactive and Visual Content
Sharing relevant and useful content with the prospects definitely helps you better manage the sales cycle.
91% of B2B buyers prefer to consume interactive and visual content, opening the door to greater reach and awareness.
Focusing on how to convey the most important information in the shortest amount of time in the most memorable format is the key to getting noticed by your prospects.
The new digital sales model has greatly reduced the cost of sales and enhanced the reach of vendors. However, companies need to learn to build trust, be more responsive, and better engage with prospective customers without depending on face-to-face meetings. We believe the new sales model is here to stay and will continue to evolve. The companies that can adopt the new sales model can improve their sales efficiency significantly and gain a competitive edge.