FOR B2B SALES, THE FUTURE IS DIGITAL
By Julian Abuin
Before the pandemic, B2B sales usually involved many in-person meetings. It wasn’t a requirement per se, but there was a certain expected behavior both from sellers and buyers, demanding face-to-face interactions to build trust and affinity.
Then came COVID, and suddenly entire industries were forced to go digital almost overnight. Over the last year and a half, B2B buyers and sellers adapted to remote work, adopting new behaviors, and even perfecting the art of making massive deals remotely. For many power players, this phenomenon kickstarted a digital shift that would not have been possible if it wasn’t for mandatory quarantine restrictions.
Now, with many countries lifting quarantine bans and opening their offices, some companies are deciding to adopt digital interactions indefinitely, arguing in favor of remote engagement as a better, more efficient way of making business.
A recent study made by McKinsey & Co showed how COVID-19 has changed B2B sales forever, stating that “For B2B sales, digital is the wave of the future.”
Safety is, of course, one of the main reasons, but those concerns are merely circumstantial since eventually (we hope, at least) the pandemic will be over and people will be able to carry on as before.
Probably the biggest reason has to do with demand. Buyers have also adapted to the new digital environment and right now, companies are doing everything they can to offer the best deals and platforms for their customers to keep them engaged and satisfied. Since the digital environment is more about performance and less about PR outreach, people are opting for suppliers that can offer the best value for their money, and that is an entirely different game.
New technologies, specifically eCommerce platforms are another important aspect that ultimately shifted the balance. Before COVID there were many B2B focused platforms and apps, but they targeted a smaller base. Right now, B2B sites have adopted a “catch-all” strategy designed to attract businesses that were not open to the idea of remote sales before. Thanks to that, self-service is becoming easier and more attractive because it demands less manpower and guarantees a certain level of engagement, one that can be easily measured and improved over time.
And last, but certainly not least, is the overall perception that digital will quickly become the new normal. This notion pushes companies to adapt and optimize their workforce to work remotely or at least in hybrid environments, which generates new demands like better IT Procurement services, new profiles for future employees, an overall reduction of their prior infrastructure, and the possibility to expand their reach to regions where they have no representation of infrastructure at all. All because they know customers prefer a 15-minute zoom meeting to an hour-long face-to-face presentation.
Of course, every company is planning to go remote, at least not in the short term. Many early adopters will certainly build trust over time and convince partners and customers to migrate to fully remote interactions, but there is still a long way to go for this to become the status quo.
One thing is certain, we have come a long way since 2019.