Industries, business models and sales strategies have been, and continue to be, significantly disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the acceleration of pre-pandemic trends.

Today’s buyers have higher expectations than ever before, and B2B sales leaders must reinvent the way they interact with customers in order to keep up with their demands. Industries, business models and sales strategies have been, and continue to be, significantly disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the acceleration of pre-pandemic trends.

To adapt to this new climate, B2B sales leaders must take significant steps including: adapting sales techniques and strategies to be more buyer-centric, focusing on subscription-based sales and restructuring and empowering teams so that they are motivated to achieve revenue targets in an inclusive and united way.

Strategic shifts away from traditional trends

The pandemic brought on a feeling of urgency for B2B sales force leaders; however, buyer trends were shifting even before the impact of COVID-19. With the advancements in technology and the ease of internet navigation, B2B buyers were already responding to the downward trajectory of the onsite sales meeting, the convergence of inside sales and field sales roles and the adoption of digital tools by both sellers and buyers.

In order to respond to the rapidly changing market, B2B leaders must start implementing buyer-centric sales strategies.

As quoted in a recent Forrester report, ‘According to Dan Swift, CEO of Empire Selling: Traditional selling leads are beginning to be an idea of the past. Instead of focusing on what has worked before, find new leads via social media output and interest, existing customer referrals and mutually beneficial service exchanges.

Implementing proactivity is key. Develop a sweeping customer outreach model with both outbound and inbound lead generation. A blend of direct mail, email marketing and cold calls, with search engines, social media, and pay-per-click ads will open doors to new leads and potential sales.

Subscription-based sales as a strategy is winning out over one-time deals. Forrester offers an example of successful companies shying away from one-time deals, ‘Microsoft no longer sells boxes of software but subscriptions to Office 365; Nestlé sells subscription-based coffee; and Budweiser reps sell cloud-connected POS subscriptions instead of cases of beer.’ Streamlining subscriptions will change the strategy of securing one big cash injection to gaining sustainable sources of income.

Teamwork as a strategic tool

There is no ‘I’ in team. This timeworn phrase is proving to be less of a cliché and more of a strategic challenge. Team success is on the rise as individual sales prowess shrinks – bigger and more efficient teams are in demand, forcing firms to abandon traditional sales team hierarchies. This creates a mentality of ‘everyone is in sales’ among B2B firms.

The lines between inside sales and field sales have become blurred, especially in regard to the shift from physical to virtual meetings. And as a result, the blurred lines act as a benefit to the future-forward movement of teamwork in sales.

As selling moves towards repeat motions and away from one-off sales, customer success managers are required to deliver a consistently positive experience, which may, in turn, lead to an increase in salesforce income, as mentioned by Forrester: Firms who are encouraging employees to work together in order to reach targets are coming out on top in terms of sales and customer success.

Make all sellers key players

Further amplifying the idea towards teamwork requires firms to extend sales technology to the whole revenue team – creating an inclusive and empowering working environment. When salesforce teams have the proper data-driven tools, they are able to use customer insight to move quickly when the opportunity arises.

Virtual sales meetings are on the rise, and B2B researchers conduct internet searches before contacting a single vendor. It is imperative for firms to provide quality and eye-catching content and information online to draw in buyers even before meetings take place. This requires cross-team collaboration.

Sales leaders must take advantage of the variety of skills offered by their sales teams when identifying which account manager is best suited for each buyer. Leaders must abolish the hierarchy of tenure-based account management, and use seller skills as their base.

To ensure teamwork amongst salesforce, leaders need to encourage collaboration. Forrester suggests moving away from rewarding individual reps as it, ‘…is not as effective in this environment as remunerating the larger teams needed to meet the needs of today’s buyers.’

Embracing the shift

Our future has been irreversibly changed by the pandemic and its effects.

B2B sales must release old norms and adapt to the completely different buying and selling landscape of our newly defined future.

Today’s sellers will have to be more buyer-centric and subscription-orientated as the rankings of the past will have ceased to exist and there will be a role to play for all staff in achieving revenue targets.

Review sales tools, training strategies and seller hierarchies to ensure maximum impact, efficiency and adaptability. Renegotiate vendor contracts and promote wider employee rewards to motivate the whole workforce to sell more widely, rather than a select few ‘lone wolves.’ And ensure all your sellers have access to enablement tools, making them feel valued and capable of initiative and deserving of independence.

At redk, we are a CRM & CX consultancy with deep expertise in CRM technologies, with over fifteen years’ experience helping companies in a variety of sectors. We work with the most reliable, up-to-date technologies to ensure your CRM strategy delivers results to help you reach your goals.