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Virtual Selling is the new top trend in B2B Sales

Ricard Chramer, CEO @ Meetric
7 minutes read

According to the research report “The Future State of Sales” that was published in November 2021 by Mercuri Research it is interesting to note that Virtual or Remote Selling is the new top trend in B2B sales. It also represents a potential game-changer in driving efficiency and increased sales.

Remote Selling ends up in position 3 among the following 10 trends.

  1. Customer Value Orientation – the creation of customer value and moving from a seller-centric to a     buyer-centric sales organization is now a top priority.
  2. Innovation Acceleration – 75 % of respondents claim they constantly need to innovate new     offerings     adapted to new customer needs.
  3. Remote Selling – interacting with customers remotely is now, due to the pandemic, one of the top     three trends to stay competitive in the future.
  4. Sales Skills Transformation – in the next three years, 66 % of respondents say they need to reskill and upskill their salesforce in new skill sets.
  5. Sales Automation – 60 % of respondents say the automation of time-consuming tasks in the sales process is critical for future success.
  6. The Fight for Talent – attracting and finding the best talent is critical to 59 % of respondents.     Another    87 % say that they have some difficulty finding talent.
  7. Social Responsibility – 57 % say that it is critical to base their business model on being economically,    socially, and environmentally accountable.
  8. Happynomics – 56 % say they need to create conditions for their employees to be happier and more engaged at work.
  9. Sales & Marketing Integration - tightly aligned sales and marketing teams are critical to more than half  – 56 % – of the respondents.
  10. Thought Leadership – being perceived as a leading authority within their industry is a top trend for      55  % of the respondents.

You can download the full report here or listen to Henrik Larsson-Broman presenting the report in episode #194 of Sälj- och marknadspodden.

Virtual or Remote Selling is all about being able to effectively handle the sales process and the customer journey in a digital context. This demands new skills and tools suited for this specific purpose that both offer digital meetings specifically made for sales situations and digital sales rooms where sellers and buyers interact during the buyer's journey.

According to the research, there are three main reasons for this shift towards virtual sales:

  • First, there has been an explosion in the sales and marketing technology that is available.
  • Second, customer buying behaviors are changing in the B2B world.
  • Third, vendors have substantial opportunities to lower costs by cutting down on field sales.

The trigger for this trend to currently exploding is the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020. During the pandemic, companies have been forced to speed up this move dramatically, with most B2B seller interactions shifting to remote or digital. And that’s exactly what customers expect. According to the research, more than 70% of B2B buyers say that they prefer remote human interaction before in-person meetings. 50% also say that remote work has made purchasing easier and more efficient.

Digital meetings replace face-to-face meetings and can fit nimbly into customers’ schedules and don’t have to be lengthened to justify travel time and expenses. As a result, they feel more focused and productive.

Watch our on-demand webinar on how to increase B2B sales 100%

Virtual Selling can increase sales by 100% or more

The challenges with the fast-changing buyer behavior, stated in for example the report by Gartner, Forrester, McKinsey, open up for major improvement in sales effectiveness. The fact that the buyer in B2B now is more digital than ever in combination with that we as sales leaders take a digital-first approach is the starting point.

An increase in sales of 100% or more is possible and should act as our baseline for the vision of how much we should be able to improve in less than 24 months if we start to act now.

This might sound like a dream for any ambitious Chief Sales Officer (CFO) but we have seen this type of improvement when we take a digital-first approach in so many different areas over the last couple of years and the B2B sales process is no exception.

The digitalization trend has been ongoing in B2B for more than 10 years but is now after the pandemic that the big step has been taken where the buyer just wants to continue to do business without physical meetings if it is not truly needed.

We have to respect that there are areas in B2B where physical meetings will be challenging to replace. However, the technical aspects will in most scenarios not be the limiting factor. Because physical can be exchanged with digital if we really use the technology that is available.

If we compare with buying food online. Just a couple of years ago no one wanted to do this online. You wanted to go to stores and pick the food you wanted yourself and carry it home at the same time as everyone else in crowded supermarkets or specialist food stores.

The food retailers started to adapt towards a digital-first experience and the consumers began to experiment using these specialized online food retailers. The digital buyer experience has now developed and adapted towards the modern consumer’s needs and the consumer sees the huge benefits. Almost all food retailers now offer a digital alternative to visiting the supermarket or store.

We save significant time and get a better experience.

  • No crowded shops.
  • No risk for getting Corona when you shop for food.
  • You can pick a recipe and get the shopping list automatically and the food added to the shopping cart instantly.
  • You can start your shopping based on what you bought last week or your favorite shopping list.

It is easy to say that most of us have become over 100% more effective as consumers when we buy food online just by taking the shopping time into consideration. The food retail industry still has challenges adapting the business models to get benefits but they are getting there just like Amazon or others that have turned other parts of the retail channel upside down and made huge profits in lowering the customer acquisition costs.

Become more effective with virtual meetings

According to Rain Group and the book, Virtual Selling it is clear that you can expect to be able to deliver 2 - 3 times the amount of virtual meetings compared with physical meetings. This is significant time-saving. However, you might argue that virtual meetings are not as effective as physical meetings.

It is clear that you need to adapt your sales behavior to be able to turn virtual meetings into meetings that are as effective as physical ones. The book “Virtual Selling” describes the differences between physical meetings with the virtual ones. The differences are presented depending on the type of meetings that are needed in different steps of the sales processes.

How to master these differences is also well described. If you combine this type of change and at the same time implement Virtual Sales Platforms that are specifically developed for delivering effective virtual sales meetings you will succeed.

The Virtual Sales Platforms will also make it possible to deliver meetings that are more effective than physical meetings. In some cases, physical meetings can not be replaced but that will likely be very rare, much like shopping products in physical shops is for consumers today.

How to reach the next level of effectiveness

The first step that we have described above is just the first step towards the vision of having sales teams that will increase sales by more than 100%.

It is clear that the buyer’s journey after the first meeting with a sales executive in many B2B scenarios includes between 3 - 6 different people that have got an important influence on a buying decision. The process is often 3 - 12 months long. It is common that you need at least 3 - 10 meetings to be able to win a business in B2B. It is not only meetings that are important. It is also the process for how you interact and share information between the buyer and the seller’s stakeholders during this relatively long and complex process that matters.

This part of the buyer’s journey has traditionally not been digitized. It has been a combination of physical not so well documented meetings, phone calls that have not been recorded, and information sharing using emails. The Virtual Sales Platforms can now digitize and structure all of this interaction including the meetings.

This makes it possible for the Chief Sales Officers to get access to a complete set of new data from this process. This is a game-changer and can drive important decisions for how to improve the processes together with the sales team. The improvements can be implemented in small steps and then you can measure to see the effect of the change.

If you combine the gains from transition to Virtual Selling and implement a Virtual Sales Platform you will be able to get an increase in sales of 100% or more over a 24 month time period.

You can easily do the calculation for your ROI if you just ask for a meeting with one of our Virtual Selling experts.