The odds were stacked against us — we pivoted last-minute to dodge a nationwide rail strike (which never materialised) — but the hall was packed from start to finish, and it was energising to see a room full of go-to-market leaders discussing how to create and close more pipeline, despite the uncertain commercial environment we find ourselves in.
It was a day full of learnings — but if I have to choose one thing that I believe everyone at the event would agree with, it’s this: B2B sales is becoming much more complex than ever before.
As buyers continue embracing self-service and self-education, sellers have fewer opportunities to get in front of their buyers, meaning they need to maximise every opportunity. Before accepting meetings with sellers, UK buyers conduct their own research in digital channels. They indicated that they go to the supplier’s website (61%), listen to a supplier-hosted podcast (55%), and evaluate the supplier on peer review sites (54%). Lastly, with so much information readily available, buyers demand immediate answers to complex questions. Sixty-two percent of UK buyers said they prefer sellers to answer complex questions in a meeting because it shortens the sales cycle.
These changes are forcing sellers to adapt. It is no longer enough to simply answer questions about the offering over dinner or a round of golf. In every buyer-seller interaction, sellers need to embrace consultative selling and help their buyers find the right solutions to the problems they care most about.
Where some may see the insurmountable mountain of complexity, we see an opportunity to untangle, simplify, innovate, and grow efficiently. After participating in the EMEA Summit and listening to so many insightful speakers, here are four ways that EMEA sales teams can adapt to this new era of sales.
As the B2B sales landscape continues to evolve, organisations need to understand the new nature of the buying cycle and key factors that resonate with buyers. In recent research Outreach conducted with Forrester Consulting, 79% of UK buyers indicated that they’re more likely to purchase a product or service if the sales experience is consultative, and 78% indicated they were more likely to purchase a product or service if the seller took a data/insights-driven approach. In the same survey. 58% of UK buyers ranked using technology to create an efficient sales cycle as a top trait in sellers.
Digitisation has had a profound impact on both personal interactions and marketing within the B2B sales industry. As a result, social marketing and selling are becoming increasingly important. Social assets like infographics, social tiles, and videos were the top-ranked supplier-generated marketing experiences among both US (83%) and UK (77%) buyers. Furthermore, 75% of UK buyers indicate they’re likely to engage with a seller’s LinkedIn page, as they start to self-educate.
Once they’re ready to meet with a seller, UK buyers prefer virtual meetings — the in-person meeting has lost its luster, falling behind phone calls and email interaction.
Creating consistent and informative content for different channels and ensuring that your sales reps have great social media profiles is key to staying authentically connected and building trust with buyers.
As Millennials continue taking over the workforce, organisational values are becoming a key aspect of selling motions. Seventy-six percent of all UK buyers believe sales teams should be diverse and reflect the world around them, and 79% indicated they would reconsider a purchase if the supplier’s values didn’t align with their own values.
Sales execution platforms help organisations tackle the digitalisation journey and help managers understand exactly what top sales reps do differently to ensure every member of the revenue organisation consistently achieves great results. This means organisations do not need to rely on a gut feeling anymore. Instead, they use data-driven insights, or what Gartner termed “dynamic guided selling" to create examples of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ actions and scale successful behaviours across the team.
Considering 77% of buyers prefer to buy from someone they trust rather than only the lowest price, creating a data-driven, consultative recipe for success is an important step in the journey of building a strong relationship with the customer — especially in a complex environment of B2B sales today.
It was exhilarating to be in London for this first-ever Revenue Innovators Summit for the EMEA market.