Direct selling is not selling a product to a customer; it is all about connecting with emotion and helping people resonate with your product/service. - Enparadigm
In today’s world, the ability of B2B businesses to survive and compete is defined through their capability to utilize technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine learning, andhumanized bots to provide ultra-personalized experiences to customers. Yet, at its core, every successful B2B company’s USP lies in people, processes & systems that can build trust, empathize with and provide the best-suited solutions to problems people face.
From the barter system in 6000 BC to the Industrial Revolution in the 18th-20th century to the current age of social, digital & remote selling, the concept of sales has kept pace with human evolution.
(The chart below represents how the industry has evolved and created
a marked difference in consumer behavior.)
With prominent B2B decision-makers warming up to the idea of remote selling and direct selling, it has also opened newer ways of prospecting. The global direct market is slated to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.7% to $184.64 billion in 2021 compared to $168.33 billion in 2020. As per the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Assocham), the direct selling industry will increase to $2169 million in 2021. Technology disruptions, online simulations, and direct marketplaces have enabled this whopping growth curve for direct selling. Industries that thrived on human touch and physical interactions now rely on customer-driven data and behavioral analysis.
Current way to interacting with suppliers’ sales reps during different stages 1,3
% of respondents
1Q: “How would you currently interact with sales reps from your company’s suppliers during the following stages of interactions?”
2Q: “How would you prefer to interact with sales reps from your company’s suppliers during the following stages of interactions?”
3Figures may not sum to 100% because of rounding.
There was a time when physical interaction trumped online meetings and video calls. However, today an increasing number of businesses are pursuing their ideal customers through channels like LinkedIn.
From making cold pitches to identifying ‘ideal client personas,’ LinkedIn is helping B2B models scale and accept digital transformation in its entirety. Today, sales representatives conduct root cause analysis, benchmarking, impact analysis through digital tools to provide a more benefit-driven approach to the client.
Approx. 70% of B2B decision-makers say they are open to making new, fully self-serve, or remote purchases over $50,000, and 27% would spend more than $500,000.Such is the impact of building trust online.
While nearly 40% of clients want a better human touch, it does not imply increasing customer engagement scores for customer service teams alone. Today, sales managers have evolved to become customer champions who understand their POV before approaching them.
Virtual interactions have replaced the once etched-in-stone notion that only physical interactions can build strong relationships. Today, a sales manager's job is to conduct an in-depth analysis of client persona before approaching them with a solution. This ensures that trust and understanding are built into a relationship even before the interactions begin.
The most significant comparison between in-person and remote selling is in the aspect of accessibility. Businesses today are far more comfortable exchanging information and conducting business online than ever before. Once clients see a benefit and a value-add, they are willing to invest their time and money in interacting digitally with B2B organizations.
As per Gartner, 80% of B2B sales interactions will occur via digital channels by 2025. It reaffirms the importance of the following factors in remote selling.
Creating a searchable and a detailed digital identity for both the business and the sales-persons is necessary to succeed in today’s competitive B2B space. The profiles used to create this identity must outline the business category, product / service offerings, benefit, and value proposition. Clients should be able to see and access all necessary information across all channels that they frequent.
While creating a digital profile is a must, understanding the ideal customer helps make or break a sale. Collecting and utilizing relevant data points makes the selling process far more manageable. Knowledge of geography, sales history, product requirement, language preference, pain points, cultural requirements, and intent levels are vital in making a sale.
It is essential to identify relevant B2B channels and create a sales funnel to pitch to the customers.Power up the use of value-added applications like LinkedIn Sales Navigator to hunt for the right B2B leads. Detailed data from such channels helps build a comprehensive buyer persona, thus leading to 30% shorter sales cycles and 20% more qualified leads. Company website, social media, influencer platforms, and email are a few of the relevant B2B channels today. Companies need to identify the channels that work best for them and their industry. What are the sales channels relevant to your business?
There is increasing overlap between the marketing and sales teams across various sales stages. As a result, sales leaders should identify the synergies with their respective marketing teams and work together with them across multiple sales stages. In addition, sales teams need to upgrade their systems and adopt a digital-first approach to enable direct selling in a remote world.
With the paradigm shift in the last few years, companies need to rethink their strategies and create frameworks to train their teams and leverage their skills to grow. With role-specific competencies and advanced skill mapping, today's workforce can lead the way for tomorrow.
Companies need to build a future-ready workforce that is equipped to handle all sorts of business scenarios and has the agility to work in an ever-changing environment. Such capability building is possible through experiential learning and simulation.
The best way to introduce the workforce to remote selling is by carrying out competency-based training with virtual simulations.
These environments allow participants to experience life-like scenarios and enable them to make better decisions. These trainer-led simulations help assess their potential, identify strengths, spot areas for improvement, and provide a step-by-step process to address the gaps.
Self-learning modules help employees complete their simulations at their pace. Employees should be given access to mobile-based learning platforms with built-in recommendations as per the individual’s role, requirements, and goals and integrated dashboards to assess progress. All simulations and learning modules should be designed to cater to an individual's learning pace and approach.
Behavioral learning plays a vital role in developing remote selling skills. Working on behavioral skills and mental-make up provides far impactful results than working only on technical skills of selling.
The behavioral learning areas for remote selling should be chosen carefully after analyzing the competency requirements as per the individual's industry, company, and role.
Once the competencies are identified, behavioral simulation with gamification and advanced recommendation algorithms help drive learning to build the requisite behaviors. They help assess the learners' progress, map their behavior in tandem with their work environment with the help of natural language interactions and self-reflection modules.
Remote selling is an art and a science. Therefore, companies must constantly invest in their employees to train the sales force to improve this skill. The key is to use learning technology and journey models that put the learner at the center of the learning experience. In addition, the learning modules should evolve with the skill level and role of the individual to ensure continuity of the learning experience.
Remote engagement models successfully help develop better B2B strategies to boost financial performance and revenue generation. B2B decision-makers globally are now adapting to newer sales models and building virtual connections to create personalized experiences. Companies need to look at long-term, strategic learning models that leverage technology to build experiential and simulation-based modules delivered through learner-centric digital platforms. These models should identify the competencies based on individual requirements and drive continuous learning through customized journeys. Remote selling is only going to gain more and more traction. Enabling and equipping the sales force with the skills necessary for this ever-changing domain will be the USP that gives the edge to organizations to become market leaders.
Get ready to join the revolution today!