3 Ways B2B Sales Gets the Edge with Tech

Prioritize the buying experience

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The business-to-business sales landscape is changing dramatically. The buying process has grown more complicated, decision-makers are no longer in the same office, expectations have changed. Businesses can’t sell the way they have in the past because the buying journey has changed in these important ways.

Sales process complexity

B2B selling has become much more complex. Gartner estimates that an average B2B sale involves nearly 10 people and takes over 17 weeks to complete. Why? More departments are involved in purchasing decisions, products and services are more complex, and there is a flood of information that prospects have to wade through.

Buyer power

Buyers have access to information like never before from sources like G2 Crowd, analyst reports, and vendor content. Long before engaging with sales, buyers are educating themselves. 83% of business buyers agree that technology has kept their company more informed about choices than ever before. That information is power. 

Changing expectations

Business buyers want the same personalized experience they’ve come to expect from the commercial marketplace. It makes sense that tailored experiences with Amazon, Uber and other B2C companies are bleeding into B2B sales and raising expectations. Business buyers want a modern, convenient and personalized experience today with 89% saying experience is as important as the products and services a company provides.

Remote buyers and sellers

With both sellers and buyers working outside of centralized offices, access to resources to operate efficiently becomes critical. McKinsey reports that nearly 90% of B2B sales have moved to a videoconferencing/phone/web sales model. In technology, media and telecoms, that number is almost 100%. To be effective, teams need to be able to provide remote buyers with personalized experiences in these new channels.

A recent B2B Sales in 2020 Strategies for Success Report revealed that 74% of sales teams are responding to these changes by purchasing new technology. This is expected to create advantage with new capabilities that ultimately help close more deals faster. In some ways, this has spurred a technology arms race among sales teams. The goal is to combine a series of solutions to build a modern sales process that delivers what today’s B2B buyer wants – and do it better than the competition.

Companies that don’t embrace digital sales processes will be left behind by both customers and prospects who expect more. Simply purchasing a bunch of new tools, however, is not the way to win. Technology investments have to be well thought out. 

Here are three tips to sell more effectively to the modern B2B buyer by getting sales technology decisions right:

1. Automate manual processes when possible

Technology that eliminates manual work has clear benefits for sales. According to Salesforce, reps spend two-thirds of their time on administrative work. Those non selling tasks are ripe for automation because the human touch isn’t adding value and actually introduces opportunities for error or risk. This is a great opportunity to focus on technology tools that can automate and increase the speed of sales, grow revenue, minimize tedious admin work and eliminate errors.

In this B2B Sales Trends survey, respondents agreed that the biggest priority for modern sales teams is improving the customer experience with more in-person sales contact. In short, today’s sales teams understand that using automation to create more personal selling time is the best way to maximize new revenue.

2. Prioritize the buying experience

Beyond automation, when planning tech investments, each new solution should translate in some way back to a better experience for the buyer. Keep in mind that today, that buyer might face new challenges because of a remote working environment. If that connection can’t be made, you should think twice about investing in the technology. Some tools will be customer-facing and will provide direct benefits during the buying process—faster, more convenient sales or greater personalization. Others may help indirectly, enabling sellers to find answers faster, surface the right information automatically or interact more easily with other teams (finance, legal, etc.). 

The idea is to understand how buyers want to engage and find ways to proactively meet them on their terms to solve their pain points. Every organization will have a unique selling system and a unique buying audience, but the overall guiding principle of technology investments stays the same—providing the best experience for buyers.

3. Have a plan for your technology

The point of making technology investments is to build a system of selling tools that all fit together as a whole. To do this, you need to have a vision for the entire business and a view of how technologies and processes work in harmony—how data flows, which departments will need access to what, how things will change in the future, and more. Once that vision is in place, it’s time to build, making strategic purchases rather than reactively adding a series of one-off point solutions. The goal is to think about achieving long-term business success, not putting a bandage on short-term pain points.

When your sales and IT team build a technology vision, consider the following:

  • Integrations with other critical business tools
  • Cross-departmental use and access (legal, finance, marketing , et al)
  • Minimizing solution overlap and duplicate tools
  • Future needs and whether technologies can grow to meet those needs
  • A timeline to build the complete selling stack
  • Scalability and security requirements

Innovative technology solutions give sales teams new capabilities to navigate an increasingly complex and challenging sales process. Teams that don’t stay ahead of the technology curve may be unable to meet the new demands of buyers. To compete, it’s important to develop a clear technology strategy for your modern sales team that emphasizes automation opportunities and positively impacts customer experience. This will give your sales team a major technological advantage in the short and long run.

Get the full report: B2B Sales in 2020: Strategies for Success