Our recent B2B Sales Study revealed how top performers are adapting their commercial strategies to adapt to today’s turbulent market. We reached out to experts Grigori Bokeria, Scott Sands, and Fotios Sepidis to better understand what the future sales approach for the B2B industry should be and why.
From COVID to the cost-of-living crisis, there’s been no shortage of challenges for businesses. How are these current crises impacting the B2B industry and what implications does this have on sales?
Grigori Bokeria: It’s true that in the last three years we’ve witnessed multiple crises that have affected and even disrupted commercial models of B2B companies.
As we all know, industries are currently facing several overlapping crises such as supply shortages, raw material cost increases, inflation, as well as the rising cost of living. Meanwhile, digitalization and changes in purchasing behavior are rapidly shifting the B2B customer journey – which, ultimately, affects sales.
The only way for companies to overcome these overlapping crises and rapid advancements is through resilience and agility. For example, a resilient commercial model is one based on an omnichannel go-to-market approach, allowing companies to better adapt to emerging risks. In other words, offline channels are supported by digital channels and vice versa, fostering agility.
Scott Sands: Further down the road we expect a serious increase, if not full adoption, of the entire customer journey being executed digitally. We also anticipate a shift in digital sales. Today, customers only tend to buy low value transactions or repeat purchases. In the future, we see digital sales also being relevant for new high value products.
Besides transforming digital sales, it’ll be important for B2B companies to adapt to inflation through optimized pricing strategies. Integrating digital solutions and managing capital will be essential – especially as value chain brakes and supply shortages are delaying order entries.
Why is it necessary to adapt the new commercial operating model?
Grigori: Well, the most evident reason comes from the accelerate acceptance of remote and virtual working and purchasing, caused by COVID lockdowns. This attitude has drastically changed the way customers shop and interact with businesses. For example, moving away from B2C to B2B and the change in decision makers when it comes to purchasing as generations shift.
All of this has created a new commercial landscape that requires an adapted commercial operating model. These new operating models need to especially address topics like client segmentation, go-to-market, the sales setup and enablement, as well as digital tools.
And let’s not forget about inflation, which obviously also requires B2B companies to adapt their processes in order to be able to achieve future growth.
What are some best practices you’ve seen in the industry?
Fotios Sepidis: We recently conducted a study which helped us identify top performers. Our B2B Sales Study found that over 20 percent of companies have high growth ambitions. Rather than seeing changing customer behavior as a block, they see it as an opportunity for growth. That’s why these top performers are investing in sales: They’re using their resources to understand their customers’ needs and are adapting their commercial strategies accordingly.
Communication is crucial here as C-level management have more than 12 percent higher growth expectations than employees at the operational level. Making sure that all teams are aligned in the business’s objectives is essential to the planning process.
What are the growth routes and what should be the future sales approach?
Scott: This is a great question because, despite the ongoing overlapping crises, we’re seeing a lot of companies still planning for growth. Innovations and new product offerings are obvious and often go-to growth drivers. These tend to be accompanied by data-driven business models which require new go-to-market and pricing strategies, as well as new thinking around sales enablement.
Grigori: However, improving your existing business is also a major revenue and profit base that is easily overlooked. In turbulent times, it’s a more natural and advisable space to focus on to drive growth. This can be done, for instance, by addressing cross- and upselling, reducing churn, or increasing price quality in the short term.
Fotios: In order to enable growth of any kind, it’s crucial for businesses to invest in their sales teams and resources. In our study, we also identified how investing in sales is a precondition for growth. Currently, many B2B companies are struggling to find the right sales reps for their business. At the same time, we’ve observed that the industry is falling behind expectations in training their sales teams. An issue that must be addressed to better equip the salesforce and achieve growth.
Reach out to our authors if you would like to find out more about the future of B2B sales or take a closer look at our B2B Sales Study.