Here’s What Companies Need to Know for the Road Ahead
For well over a decade, companies have been discussing “aligning marketing and sales.” This has made much sense, given the traditional lack of transparency, collaboration, and shared strategy between such teams. But the once helpful idea of “alignment” is quickly becoming irrelevant as B2B buying habits are rapidly heading in dramatic new directions. The new future of B2B sales will present companies with steep challenges and powerful new growth opportunities.
At Pivot International, we are a global one-source leader who recognizes that agile adaption to a changing world is critical to the success of companies’ go-to-market strategies. Whether this relates to evolving sales practices, technology trends, fluctuating market demand, supply chain disruption, or other dynamic developments, Pivot helps companies launch successful products that capture value from emerging opportunities. With in-house DFM expertise that spans fourteen industries and 320,000 square feet of tri-continental manufacturing capability, we are a top-tier partner for companies worldwide.
As companies are faced with adapting to the new future of B2B sales, they’ll need to contend with good news and bad. First, the bad.
The Window of Human Influence is Getting Much Smaller
B2B buying has become digitally dominant. While many companies give lip service to this fact, the extent of their investment in traditional sales teams often tells a different story. Increasingly, the B2B buying journey no longer features a marketing-to-sales or digital-to-human handoff. Traditional sales teams can now expect to be involved with less than 5 percent of total buying time, making human interaction much rarer and reducing the already slim stakes for influencing purchase behavior and closing deals.
Customers Often Don’t Want to Deal With Your Sales Reps
In a Gartner survey of the purchase journeys of more than 1,000 B2B buyers pursuing complex purchases, buyers overwhelmingly report preferring digital channels to human interaction for information gathering. Although buyers are ever more “information agnostic,” they exhibit a preference for conducting research on the website of companies from which they may ultimately purchase.
Recent research has identified generational trends in the habits of B2B buyers seeking complex solutions. While 29 percent of Baby Boomers wanted to bypass sales reps, 54 percent of Millennials expressed the same preference. As the older generation ages out and the younger generation comes to exercise more and more influence over B2B sales strategy, the next 5-10 years will bring a new era of customer engagement.
Now the good news.
Companies are Facing an Innovation Opportunity
While the bad news may lead companies to believe they’re facing a sales challenge, it’s actually an information challenge — and therefore an innovation opportunity — that’s at stake. By being the best to provide customers with the information they’re seeking through the digital channels they most prefer, you’ll be one step ahead of many other companies in capturing value from an evolving sales ecosystem.
When it Comes to Complex Solutions, B2B Buyers Still Depend on Sales Reps
As is well understood by companies like Pivot that provide complex solutions for medical, industrial, and high-performance consumer markets, B2B purchase decisions are not made by single individuals but by entire teams of stakeholders. Moreover, the current B2B digital sales ecosystem is still a long way from making it possible for buyers of complex solutions to feel confident about making purchase decisions without significant engagement with sales reps.
This reality provides some wiggle room for complex-solutions companies to more gradually adopt strategies to meet the adaptive pressures of an increasingly digitalized purchase journey. But a caveat is warranted here. Such companies will still need to focus on deploying digital sales resources and purchase supports through customers’ preferred channels. If not, they risk losing buyers who prefer low sales-rep engagement to competitors who do a better job of digitalizing the purchase journey.
Partner Relationships Remain a Timeless Key to Winning B2B Sales Strategy
It’s worth remembering that between Millennial-driven generational trends and development in AI, VR, and AR technologies, conditions are ripe to render traditional sales reps all but irrelevant. The key word here is traditional. Human relationships always have been and always will be integral to doing business. But in the future, the terms of human engagement will be more focused on unlocking the potential of partner relationships. B2B companies will need to invest in efforts to innovate their operational design, talent acquisition, digital engagement, and even business model to tap the nearly unlimited power of win-win alliances that forge a shared path to success.
Looking to Launch a Successful Product?
If you’re looking to launch a complex medical, industrial, or consumer product, Pivot delivers a diverse suite of the latest digital product solutions, more than 50 years of experience, a highly collaborative approach to doing business, and a portfolio of award-winning products. To learn more about how we will work closely with your team to help you successfully scale, contact us today for a no-cost consultation.