As we learn how to sell and work in an almost exclusively virtual environment, a new threat has emerged during the pandemic that you might not recognize yet. One that I believe will act to change enterprise sales forever.
Over the past nine months, our clients have built a new level of self-sufficiency. They have become accustomed to buying almost everything virtually. They have learned how to do their research and compile all the information they need to make their decision, how to get the help and support they might need both during and after the sale, and how to push the buy button.
Even before COVID-19, clients were engaging B2B salespeople later and later in the buying process, after they did their homework, and were much more educated with higher expectations of salespeople when they engaged us.
The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated that trend, and companies are racing to automate and virtualize almost everything to respond to the new market dynamics.
According to McKinsey’s latest research, 70%-80% of B2B decision makers now prefer remote human interactions or digital self-service. 65% believe the remote selling model is equally or more effective than pre-pandemic selling models.
We are not just talking about commodity products. Companies are now enabling their clients to buy complex solutions, like cloud services, virtually and, in some cases, without any human interaction at all.
Think about what that means as more and more B2B companies cater to their increasingly self-sufficient clients. Why do procurement teams need to engage your salespeople at all? They can just do everything online, notify your company they are interested in making a purchase, then ask someone sitting in a call center somewhere for your best price. They can fill out an online order and execute a completely automated transaction.
I predict more and more complex solutions will be made available in a similar self-service manner. Which means… soon your team’s biggest challenges may not be the competitors we go head-to-head with in the market every day. Instead, it will be our clients doing it themselves, and salespeople having to differentiate themselves from “online.”
Which leaves your sales teams having to truly master selling that differentiates themselves from your competition – by how they engage with clients, rather than what they are selling.
The next generation of B2B enterprise salespeople will have to become masters at leveraging thought leadership and collaborating in the creation of compelling value propositions. This means being seen as agents of change to help drive your client’s BUSINESS success.
They will also have to become masters at creating and leveraging relationships virtually to help your clients drive their PERSONAL success – especially at the C-Level.
Ultimately, they will have to become masters at creating NEW demand, with NEW clients, before they recognize a need and begin shopping elsewhere.
Want the good news? Every company on the planet today is revisiting and refining their strategy because of the pandemic and will likely continue to do so until we settle into our new normal, whatever that might be.
Every one of your teams can become an integral part of their client’s new strategy, whether they help enable it or even help lead it with the value and relationships they create.
The ability to lead your clients through this period of tremendous uncertainty, and to create demand for what you sell and the value you can deliver, I believe, will ultimately become the hallmark for success in this next chapter of strategic selling!
Lead your team in researching and discussing how the pandemic has impacted your key client’s results, industry, competitors, their clients, etc. and how they do business. What strategies have they employed? How can you create value for your clients in helping support or even lead those strategic initiatives?