The Future B2B Sales Strategy
The future B2B sales strategy will have to account for both the harsh business and economic challenges that will prevail for probably a good five years. Sales leaders looking to balance their immediate goals with long term opportunities will need to plan for the four N’s. The Now, the Next and the Never Normal. No business can plan to go back to the old way of doing things. The winners will aggressively adapt a sales strategy that finds new ways of operating.
The Now phase is the immediate focus on workforce, customers, and suppliers. The Next phase will involve refocusing the sales strategy to cope with new threats and develop new opportunities. And the Never Normal phase will require planning for shifts in values, preferences, work behaviors and audiences. Today is that time to develop a plan for business transformation with new approaches to management, workforce deployment, customer engagement and leadership.
Every B2B sales strategy must now be able to answer these questions:
How does my business stay ahead of constantly changing customer needs?
How do we enable virtual selling that drives sales?
How to keep a remote salesforce engaged and productive?
How can we stand out from the competition in the digital era?
How to blend virtual and traditional sales approaches?
How do we tap into customer demand preferences?
How do we enable a sales culture to focus on value?
What new sales strategies can be leveraged?
Which tools and systems will we need to use?
To help shape your thinking, a recent survey from Bain showed that 70% of B2B buyers felt that virtual sales calls are just as effective as in-person calls even those involving a high degree of customization or configuration.
This means that B2B buyer priorities are changing completely. The onus will be on sales leaders to deliver on innovative ways of tapping into and understanding customers’ needs for The Now and The Next phases, maybe even The Never Normal again phase. The future B2B sales strategy will focus on turning customer needs into value lead solutions because meaningful customer connections and conversations will rule.
The Future B2B Sales Strategy will include:
Communication. The ability to target the right customer with the right message, keeping communication timely, relevant, and customized to each customer’s unique needs.
Message Consistency. Delivering consistent sales or business messages and content across all channels and partners including social media, digital, web, forums and via salespeople. For buyers to get unified messaging, the marketing, sales and service platforms will be a single source of truth for all campaigns, content, social messaging, whitepapers, research and product information.
The Arm Breaker Strategy. The purchasing power of large organizations (the arm breakers) will mean that salespeople need to be equipped with the right skills to engage the most important prospects and develop the existing large customer base.
Target Wisely. Reduce leakage and sales costs while improving margins by getting salespeople to focus only on the “worthwhile” customers to boost productivity, conversion rates and value captured. Other customers will be serviced via the web, AI, and digital tools such as chat. Enable virtual assistants to improve interactions and to handle customer inquiries for sales etc
Virtual Selling. Future thinking sales leaders are focused on boosting the effectiveness of their virtual sales teams. They are redefining the sales and buyers journey, streamlining their sales tactics, making buying easier and bringing visibility to all customer interactions. The future B2B sales strategy for digital requires keeping it simple for both buyer and seller, the complete digital experience from ease of navigation to buying.
Drive The Win Deal Ratio. Aligned to targeting wisely, driving up the win deal ratio will require helping salespeople with win strategies to position the products or services to reflect new needs and customer priorities. Sales quotas will be fluid and adjustable in response to downturns or upswings. All sales goals will be motivational, motivate growth, targeted to retain the salespeople, and align with the company’s overall performance.
Train, Train, and Train. Sales enablement, sales coaching and sales training will need to show the sales force on how to thrive in digital selling and virtual sales negotiation methods. Align incentives and adjust pricing policies to encourage the sales team to focus on the high value customer segments and margin rich offerings. Develop sales play books to help salespeople on how to accelerate their sales results.
Real Time Signals. Invest in the technology and tools to monitor changes in customer demands across relevant geographies and regions. Deploy predictive AI tools to achieve optimal customer targeting and uncover new propensity-to-buy signals in real time.
Create Digital Interaction Deals. Create or repackage deals to attract digital interaction including remote buying, work-from-home solutions and offerings that are reflective of the remote buyer. For new digital acquisition sales tactics, companies will repurpose existing products and services to meet and exceed unfulfilled these customer needs.
Negotiation Hit Team. Sales agility will become a central cog, sales leaders will set up command centers made up of sellers, negotiators, finance, and product specialists that are empowered to negotiate deal terms and compromise requests. The business will already understand the customers’ financial position, have preapproved commercial terms and tools to mitigate any profit/margin risk.
Positioning and Value Propositions. The future B2B sales strategy “Next Phase” of business will account for how customers’ needs have changed. In response, sales management must adapt how they position the value of their products and services plus re-evaluate the value propositions for each target segment.
Where to Play. To support sales agility, the sales strategy will need to decide what resources to give to which segments or territories. The business will have to separate out stable markets, how to capitalize on temporary spikes, identify and resource early emerging markets and investing in areas with long-term demand growth.
Summary The B2B Sales Strategy in the Future
The next number of years will see incredible transitions. Sales leaders can start to look forward to shaping their future sales B2B sales strategy rather than just grinding through the present. However, one thing is clear, there is no going back. The acceleration of technology, digitization, and remote working is going to be sustained in one form or another.
This is why every business will need to keep an eye on the four N’s. The Now, the Next and the Never Normal. A sales strategy that keeps updating them permanently. A future B2B sales strategy that is agile, reflective and as a guide to see where the organization should be going. Sales leaders will need baselines to stay relevant in this fast-changing world of sales and customers.