It’s Time for a Digital Transformation in B2B Sales

Today’s organizations see a lot of opportunity to benefit from new technology. In DocuSign’s 2020 Business-to-Business Sales Trends Report, we surveyed almost 900 B2B sales leaders to examine their response to technology advances and identify specific tools they are using to improve their selling process.

Teams in our survey are responding to the changing sales landscape by primarily investing in technology (74%) and updating their sales processes (67%). It’s important to note that the majority of teams don’t see a need to restructure, choosing instead to keep their personnel structure in place and modernize the way they sell. 

We know that leading sales teams are making technology upgrades, but it’s significantly more helpful to pinpoint the specific solutions those teams are implementing. To explore this topic further, our respondents identified the tools that are a part of their current stack and those that they anticipate will play a critical role in five years.

It’s clear from these responses that sales teams intend to increase their effectiveness by using data about customers to improve experience and sell more effectively. However, when that broad strategy is broken down to more tactical decisions, there is no new technology that is singled out as a sales must-have for the future.

Perhaps because sales teams expect the technology mix they use to remain fairly static, respondents don’t anticipate many improvements in the sales process due to technology in five years. It is odd though that sales teams would place such importance on tech investment if they don’t expect or understand what the benefit will be.

Diagnosing the problem

While sales teams are investing in technology, individuals aren’t clear about how that technology will help them achieve their goals. It’s possible that these teams see the broad benefit but can’t pinpoint anything tangible, or they may be looking too far ahead and building for the future without a clear plan for managing specific challenges today.

And there are certainly challenges with technology today. The biggest obstacles to maximizing current technology, according to our respondents, are that software is too slow and data is not current. Remote sales teams might also be using tools and processes that aren’t flexible enough to handle remote workers. B2B sales teams everywhere see a need for sales tools that connect to other systems, automate tasks and provide an easy-to-use experience for sellers.

Broader digital transformation has its own set of complications. When asked to list the factors standing in the way of digitizing the sales process, our respondents identified technical complexity, difficulty finding opportunities to digitize, and legal and compliance risks. Clarity on the challenges with technology and transformation today can help make future investments more successful.

The need for digital transformation

Commiting the entire sales function to a digital transformation would solve a range of technology problems respondents in our survey identified and likely clarify the benefits expected. However, the desire to embark on that digital transformation is listed by respondents as a low priority both today and five years into the future.

Across both time periods, sales teams are prioritizing the same three areas: lead quality, prospect response rate and information about prospects. These improvements on their own are incredibly important, but are the ends, not the means. Without a digital transformation to enable a major shift in workflow and time allocation, these priorities are incredibly difficult to achieve. Increases in lead quality and response rate are actually the end result of a transformation rather than simply an outcome that improves with additional focus.

With new tools and new processes, sales improvements are certainly on the way. However, it’s critical to make the right moves in the correct order. B2B sales teams want all the benefits of the digital transformation, but they’ve acted out of order in failing to strategically build out the infrastructure to achieve those improvements. 

To learn more about the benefits of committing your sales team to a digital transformation, download the B2B Sales in 2020: Strategies for Success report.

You can also read more about DocuSign’s research in our B2B sales trends series: 

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