The biggest trends, challenges and technologies shaping B2B sales 

Does anyone seal a business deal with a handshake anymore? Sure, COVID-19 put a temporary kybosh on business handshakes – but the question is, will they return? According to B2B sales teams around the world, the answer, perhaps, is no. 

We recently surveyed over 750 B2B sales professionals about the impact of the pandemic on their business dealings, and how technology is changing the game for all. The findings – which you can explore in The Evolution of B2B Sales: Trends and Transformations – are summarised below. 

Customer experience matters more than ever

One of the biggest trends shaping B2B sales right now is customer experience. It’s likely come to the fore because those traditional ways of nurturing relationships – think long lunches, coffee meetings, and more – have been put on hold thanks to rolling lockdowns and social distancing. 

With deals being sealed virtually, sales teams are focused on finding new ways to build relationships. According to the survey, customer experience is the top priority for sales teams, and 67% say it will become even more of a priority in the next five years. 

As well as customer experience (which 40% of sales execs rate as a top priority), the other priorities for the year ahead are differentiating from competitors (40%), leveraging more sales channels (37%) and shifting to virtual sales (33%). On this last point, the survey found that sales teams expect 49% of all deals to be conducted remotely post-pandemic, up from one-third before 2020.

No wonder B2B sales teams have their sights firmly set on digital transformation. They know they need new tools and technologies to be able to keep pace with their competitors in this new normal. 

COVID-19 prompts a rethink of sales processes

A big lesson coming out of the pandemic? Preparedness for change. Many sales teams – and, indeed, broader businesses – are now reflecting on their ability to adapt when uncertainty or upheaval strikes. Of the sales professionals we spoke to, just 22% say they were very prepared.

To fix this and get ready for whatever the future holds, sales leaders are focused on modernizing processes and technologies. Indeed, the top changes made to sales departments this year have been: 

  • Changing sales methods (47%)
  • Investing in technology (45%)
  • Redesigning sales workflows (43%)
  • Investing in employee training (39%)
  • Restructuring our team/department (38%)

And, in terms of the urgency of different tasks, digital transformation – specifically, leveraging new sales channels and shifting to virtual sales – are easily the most urgent tasks to tackle.

Complex contracts ready for a makeover

Contracts are at the heart of the sales process. The volume of contracts that most teams deal with is massive – 80% of sales teams execute over 500 contracts a month, according to Forrester research commissioned by Docusign. And our survey found that 71% of B2B sales teams say their contracts are complex or very complex, due to:

  • The need to customize contract terms (38%)
  • Errors (37%)
  • Lack of visibility (37%) 
  • Managing a document through layers of routing and approvals (36%)
  • Version control (29%)

To fix these issues, contract lifecycle management (CLM) is emerging as a central plank in the  digital transformation of sales processes, streamlining systems and helping sales teams close deals faster while delivering a superior customer experience.

How does your B2B sales team compare?

Read the full report today to see whether your experiences align with those in the report, or to help build your business case for investing in the tools and technologies to drive your sales team forward.

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