In a post-pandemic world facing supply-chain challenges, there's a lot of pressure on the sales operations team. Although the global economy has demonstrated significant resilience through the pandemic, bouncing back faster than expected, many organizations are encountering new challenges in supply chains, workforce availability, and inflation.
To boost company growth, emphasis must now shift from defensive measures and short-term goals to a sustainable, inclusive growth agenda. Growth is a prerequisite for economic development and company profitability. Looking forward post-pandemic, this growth agenda will require redefining sales strategies, leveraging data, and ongoing learnings for companies to thrive.
This pressure has led B2B sales to digitizing more quickly, and the result is omnichannel B2B selling. The way buyers find new suppliers, build and foster relationships with them, and choose what and how to buy and reorder is more fluid than ever and is occurring across multiple platforms. With demand for even more channels, decision makers’ current behavior and preferences for interacting B2B with suppliers has dramatically changed.
Explore and mix sales channels
B2B leaders are responding to the increased switch to digital communications and are accepting the reality of omnichannel sales. According to Mckinsey, B2B customers now regularly use ten or more channels to interact with suppliers (up from just five in 2016). Customers use different sales channels—for example, face-to-face, videoconferencing, online chat, or online marketplaces—at different stages of the buying journey.
A new hybrid model has emerged: a mix of traditional sales (eg, in-person meetings), remote (eg, videoconferencing and phone discussions), and self-service (eg, e-commerce and digital portals). These channels are being mixed and matched at different stages of the sales process, customer buying journey, and type of purchase. No one sales channel should replace another; customers should have the option to interact via traditional, remote, and self-service channels, regardless of company size.
Capitalize on eroding customer loyalty
One of the impacts of the pandemic is that customers began reviewing their buying decisions and questioning purchasing influences, which has led to switching brands or retailers, and this behavioral change did not exclude B2B customers. B2B customers are more quick to seek another supplier if their needs are not met, from wanting real-time customer support, certainty on product availability and pricing, and a consistent buying experience regardless of channel.
This declining loyalty presents a great opportunity to attract new customers, convert them, and retain existing ones. Winning B2B sales leaders are quickly innovating and experimenting to deliver great omnichannel experiences that will appeal to customers.
These changes continue to solidify omnichannel as the new normal in B2B sales. Although online interactions, both remote and self-serve, are here to stay, personal relationships are still a high priority, regardless of channel, making in-person sales reps as important as ever. Customers still value face-to-face interactions, making business visits important, especially for customers that have never been met. With customer loyalty on the decline, to win, businesses will have to be dynamic and flexible to responding to the needs of their customers.
As businesses try to navigate existing and new eruptions, sales leaders need to be resilient to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth. Getting there will depend on effectively adopting, experimenting and optimizing winning strategies for growth.