To understand where the opportunities and challenges are in sales, you must identify emerging trends in the B2B industry.
Understanding the trends in sales is half the battle when it comes to designing a plan of action. Keeping up with the news also encourages everyone to stay flexible in a quickly changing world. You're fighting to schedule yourself in customers’ already filled calendars, and the people that you need to reach are always the ones who have the least time to give. To truly understand where the opportunities and challenges are, it helps to identify the patterns the B2B industry is seeing across the board.
Independence in business
Hopefully, you've already noticed this trend already, but it's probably the biggest one you're facing. No longer do clients feel that they need to seek out the help of a salesperson because they can find what they need on the Internet. Brands are also aggressively marketing themselves, so most companies are struggling to be heard above the noise. Salespeople today have a reputation of being both untrustworthy and unreliable, so one tip would be to focus the encounter with the buyer. Share concrete examples about how your customer’s company can benefit from your products and services. In other words, frame the sale as a way the buyer can take a more active role in strengthening their business — not about how you can line your pockets with a fat commission.
The age of freelancing
While traditional sales have been disrupted by technology, there are ways that it can open new markets to those in B2B sales. The office is certainly not considered obsolete just yet, but more and more people are working from home and as their own boss. With freelancers and contract workers coming into focus, it's a huge opportunity for those in B2B sales. There are now 53 million people who make their living on their own, and the trend is only growing. Many of these freelancers will need help both to get started and to maintain their success, and a good B2B salesperson can offer them solutions to expand their business.
Simplicity in purchasing and ordering
The B2B salesperson now has less to do when it comes to the actual ordering of the products they offer, and customers are now becoming accustomed to going online and selecting what they want without help. This is especially true when the order is relatively inexpensive and simple. While it has certainly served to lessen the demand on the salesperson, it can also leave the client to feel less loyalty to the brand. The less the salesperson knows about the intricacies of their accounts, the easier it will be to dismiss the importance of the relationship. To overcome this challenge, salespeople need to find other ways to offer value to customers outside of transaction-related processes.
Growing disconnect between sales and marketing
Growth can slow tremendously without input from both departments, yet seldom do these two groups meet to go over strategy. While sales and marketing are ultimately focused on the same goal, each field attracts two very different types of skill sets. Marketing is often focused on leads, but it's pivotal to remember it's the accounts that bring in money. Bringing marketing into the meetings can give sales greater context and background to make decisions. Marketing can figure out who the key decision makers are in the prospective accounts, and start engaging with them, either by following them on social media or sharing strategic content with them.
Evolving customer needs
Customer satisfaction has become about cohesion, with 86 percent of senior marketers stating that every experience has to be on the path to meeting a customer's needs. That's a lot of pressure to put on a team, but it all starts with creating a culture that is focused on the customer, not on the numbers. By freeing a team up to actually devote time to the individual, you empower them to make strong decisions that will actually lead to better sales. The buyers find the vast majority of conversations they have with salespeople are useless, so this trend is especially one to fight against.
Spotlight on content
In this day and age, customers are more likely to respond to content rather than a phone call. One statistic showed it was a major factor in 65 percent of the buyers surveyed. This means that if a company asks to see literature rather than hear a pitch, it isn't necessarily a brush-off but more of a way to determine the type of seller they're dealing with before going any further. The money spent on content is well worth it, and it pays to invest in both video and literature. Clients are figuring out pretty quickly what is helpful to them and what isn't, so time is of the essence. Marketers and salespeople alike need to be working out how to effectively use short- and long-form content especially to make a bigger impact on the audience.
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