The global pandemic has certainly changed people’s practices and in many ways, it has been for the better. Working remote has become far more normalized and online shopping has become more a necessity than a convenience. With the shifting of “analog” work and “analog” sales tactics to digital, it’s important that businesses keep up before they are left in the dust. This includes creating digital sales presentations with Ingage.
In an early 2020 survey, McKinsey & Company noted that companies made notable adjustments to remain competitive. These changes largely centered around how consumers research products and use digital services and ways for businesses to increase their spending.
Even before the pandemic, there was a rising tide of changing behaviors among B2B buyers. One major reason for this shift is that millennials (born 1981-1996) now comprise around 60% of current B2B tech buyers. This generation comprises the first wave of true digital natives, having grown up alongside the Internet.
As buyers, millennials are less concerned with developing personal relationships with sales professionals. The older generations of buyers are more welcoming of sales representatives and often take their word as gospel truth. In contrast, millennials grew up with information at their fingertips and have expressed their preference to conduct their own research. This includes trying out free samples, viewing online sales presentations, watching product demonstrations and scanning user reviews. Today’s buyers also like looking for additional information from manufacturer and vendor websites. By the time the buyer decides to contact the salesperson for a possible purchase, around 57% of the buying process has already been completed.
What does this all mean? The pandemic inadvertently accelerated a growing trend among buyers. Millennials are now the largest generation of buyers for most companies and they’re bringing their digital familiarity to the workplace. This results in more online research and less interaction with actual sales teams. B2B sellers should know that this preference was already established as the New Normal of Sales even before COVID-19 — and it isn’t going anywhere.
Despite the lockdowns, companies remained in need of partners to supply their services, raw materials and equipment needs. With lockdowns preventing sales teams from making traditional field visits, everybody turned to the digital sphere to keep business moving. As a result, sellers with existing online stores and digital payment processing systems had an early advantage.
However, having a website is just the minimum requirement. The company website shouldn’t only be user-friendly and responsive but also present up-to-date information about its products, services and values. More importantly, customers should have no problem continuing their transactions online, whether that be through the company website, app or even its social channels. Visitors to these channels who experience slow or nonexistent replies won’t bother going back for a second visit.
In addition, companies also shifted to online means of communication with their partners. Health-related travel bans grounded all traveling sales agents. Instead of face-to-face meetups, video conferencing became the de facto standard when sellers and buyers met. In fact, more than 75% of present-day buyers prefer online meetings and digital self-service purchase options over face-to-face interactions. For example, many buyers will now have sellers send their sales presentations via email or online transfer. This allows them to review the document at their leisure. This also removes the pressure of having to commit immediately after an in-person sales pitch.
Many companies struggled during the first few months of lockdowns and had to slash their budgets accordingly. However, other companies managed to stay afloat and some even saw their businesses thrive. Often providing essential products and services, the increased demand for their products pushed them to spend more to increase production. Think of companies that sell food and retail products or service companies offering warehousing and deliveries.
The takeover of millennial buyers also changed the sales landscape considerably. With buyers more comfortable researching information themselves, they have no qualms with purchasing directly from manufacturers, either. Since 2017, direct-to-manufacturer orders and online purchases increased while distributor deals began to decline. Millennial buyers are also known to be more willing to make purchases from international suppliers rather than only relying on local vendors.
Read Part Two to learn about the future of the sales industry and what strategies emerged from the pandemic.
Original article source: Ingage
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