COVID-19. There -- we got that out of the way.
In all seriousness, it’s impossible to talk about the future of B2B sales without touching on the coronavirus -- as sick as we all are of discussing it.
With the first case declared back in early December 2019, the coronavirus has survived the entirety of 2020. This has created devastating effects for the economy and has led many B2B businesses to either shut down operations or scramble to conduct business in new ways.
As a result, salespeople have had to change their course and adapt to remote and virtual practices. However, many of the changes were long overdue for B2B sellers using outdated tactics, and it has forced both people and businesses to be more cognizant of their digital presence.
So, before we pass over into a new year and start over once more, take a look at these 2021 digital B2B sales trends that will play an important role in your strategy.
What B2B Sales Trend Changed the Most?
The biggest and most important B2B sales trend to understand is that, for many industries, a primarily digital sales process is here to stay -- at least for a while. Consequently, this has also changed B2B marketing trends as well.
Before COVID, companies used to buy and sell to one another through traditional interactions. This included
- On-site visits
- Factory tours
- Face-to-face meetings
The variety of touchpoints was important due to the long sales cycle that occurs in the B2B industry. Not to mention the number of word-of-mouth referrals and reliance on trustworthy relationships common for a B2B company.
However, shifts in customer preferences have resulted in a greater demand for a digital presence. This transition has been easier for some businesses who already had a website established or rely on e-commerce. Others have had to build their digital presence from the ground up.
Business websites spiked in value throughout 2020, and for a company to compete, it has to understand the key components of an effective digital presence.
Customers Are Buying Online
COVID has caused many B2B companies to offer “more” to their customers digitally. As a result, a lot of transactions are occurring online through various business websites.
Traditionally, e-commerce was thought to be a channel where business-to-consumer type products thrived. However, B2B online sales saw faster growth than retail sales throughout all of 2019 before COVID even began leaving its mark.
Once all the major shutdowns began early in 2020, a massive wave of consumers turned to online sales. This has enabled more impulsive purchasing habits, providing businesses with a great opportunity to quickly boost their sales.
However, this didn’t necessarily help all companies, especially for those who fall out of the e-commerce sphere. For example, SaaS (software as a service) companies often use in-person demos to demonstrate their value. However, social distancing made this nearly impossible, and an online alternative had to be developed for the company to continue educating and impressing potential customers.
Setting aside the time and effort to optimize your digital presence is a great investment. As of now, there’s no telling when COVID and its consequential restrictions will end. And even if it ended today, digital purchasing has quickly become the normal for the B2B industry, making it a permanent solution rather than a temporary workaround.
User Experience Is Vital
The shift to digital marketplaces has also led to a rise in website expectations.
This means that you need to provide your visitors with an excellent user experience. This includes having:
- An interface that’s easy to navigate
- Visually-appealing elements to help break up your pages
- Fast, reliable customer service
To achieve this last goal, many companies have been turning to chatbots, one of the biggest B2B technology trends to soar in 2020.
A chatbot is an AI software that can communicate live with a user on your website, app, and so on. It’s programmed to best answer any questions that the visitor has, and provides your site with a fast-responding customer service element. The AI can forward any questions received directly to your salespeople.
Beyond just the chatbot, you want your website users to feel important on your site. Therefore, you should create clear and easy paths to follow that help educate your audience. You can achieve this through content marketing, a clear and informative services page, and other educational resources.
Personalization Is Key
Back when businesses were talking with customers face-to-face, it was easy to gear the conversation around the customer’s wants and needs. However, it’s become increasingly difficult to personalize the experience for every user that visits your site.
This is where sales reps have had to up their game, especially for B2B companies. Many salespeople have turned to using 1-on-1 video calls, emails, and phone calls, and have put a focus on personalizing them for the individual B2B sales lead.
This means that sales reps have been putting a bigger focus on the prospect and the buyer’s journey they’re on. And this all starts with defining what makes a lead valuable and what pain points you can solve for them.
Through these individualized engagements and sales processes, sales reps keep highly detailed and organized data. This data is unique to each individual prospect, and is used to personalize every engagement that is made.
Are You Ready for 2021?
Now that you’ve learned a bit more about the B2B sales trends spreading during this pandemic-riddled time, hopefully you can adjust your game plan moving forward into 2021. Remember that everything is about nurturing your target audience and providing them with a unique and personalized sales process. The best practices haven’t changed; only the way you deliver it has.
To learn more about improving your B2B sales through marketing and personalization during COVID, check out this information on remote selling: