B2B Sales: How to Adapt the 4 Trends Impacting You in 2016
18th March 2016 Will Humphries
Technology and predictive analytics are making big and growing impacts on B2B sales in 2016.
Successful companies adapt to the changing habits and activities of buyers, which means engaging them through digital platforms in many cases.
Here are four trends to recognise in B2B sales and how to adapt to them.
The Rise of Digital Presence
Maintaining a positive, extensive and consistent brand image on digital platforms is paramount to success in 2016.
B2B sales reps need an active presence on social media networks that your prospects use.
LinkedIn and Twitter are among the more common platforms used for social selling (those links connect with my profiles on those platforms if you would like to connect).
These tools allow you to build a profile, project a professional image and engage prospects directly in conversation.
Your website and blog are also integral to building a digital presence. B2B buyers increasingly search for information online long before your initial conversation with them.
They can find out about your company, its products and services, your clients, your competition without ever having to pick up the phone to talk to you.
In 2014, 75% of B2B buyers relied more on content to research a supplier and make B2B purchasing decisions, and that figure is expected to grow to 85% over the next four years. (DemandGen)
A professional web presence that is easy-to-navigate and simple to understand drives leads and conversions.
Make it clear from the onset what problems your business addresses and how your solutions differ from those of competitors.
It is your number one priority to build relationships with your customers because they already have answers to most of their questions.
They are now in the process of deciding whether they can work with you and your organisation. Do they like you, do they trust you, are you a good advisor?
This is where Social Selling and Account Based Marketing add value to your sales efforts.
You can improve your b2b sales effectiveness by looking at aligning your sales process with actual buyer readiness.
If you are not doing it already, talk with your marketing team to see where it is you can add value to the buying process.
“Predictable Patterns” are the Rage
The ability to collect, analyse and interpret data for accurate decisions throughout the selling process is another major 2016 trend impacting sales.
Analytics involves generating automated reports from massive amounts of data inputs. The goal is to identify predictable patterns of behaviour among specific buyer personas.
81% of CxOs anticipate more digital interaction with customers by 2020, and 66% expect more focus on customers as individuals.
By relying on data-driven decisions, you can increase the statistical likelihood that lead generation, marketing automation and nurturing activities will produce efficient results.
Salespeople can use reports that project which prospects boast the highest “win” potential based on analysis of traits and behaviours of existing contacts.
As prospects move through your company’s sales funnel, lead scoring can help you nurture those prospects that are not at the bottom of the funnel just yet, and allow you to prioritise those that are.
Convergence of CRM and Content
Customer relationship management and content marketing have become closely married topics in digital marketing and selling.
By using CRM to build detailed personas of core buyer segments, marketers can generate precise content that presents solutions to the problems and pains of discrete prospects.
Your sales team will field calls or online enquiries from prospects anxious to learn more about how the benefits of your solutions match up with their needs.
With a content path that captures attention off-site, and then proposes more in-depth education on-site, your lead generation is more precise.
The use of video content to deliver demonstrations and customer testimonials is a closely related trend in content marketing that helps drive calls-to-action.
Over eight billion video views occur on Facebook daily with Twitter also seeking to take advantage of the growing video market with its video autoplay feature.
These videos play automatically on a user’s timeline but are muted as the user scrolls down the page. And as you will no doubt have noticed, Google promotes its video ads inside search engine results pages.
Optimising Customer Experience is Central to CRM
All the emphasis on data can distract sales professionals from the still all-important goal of optimising each customer’s experience.
B2B buyers expect a clear, seamless and easy-to-navigate journey through the buying process.
They spend a lot of time researching information online and focus on companies that deliver information in an easy-to-navigate, quick-to-interpret manner.
There are two stats I have that are of interest:
90% of consumers find custom content useful and 78% believe that organizations providing custom content are interested in building good relationships with them. (McMurry/TMG)
IDG Connect found that 85% of buyers say content is neither useful, relevant, nor aligned with needs of people in the buying decision.
When your salespeople make an initial call, their role is to implement a more in-depth needs assessment to fully understand the obstacles a B2B buyer faces.
This thorough awareness and genuine empathy set up an opportunity to make a strong recommendation.
A precise alignment of your solution to the prospect’s needs, combined with effective follow-up, leads to a better customer experience, repeat buys, loyalty and referrals.
Digital technology, analytics and the customer experience are key factors in the trends driving B2B sales in 2016.
Companies want to engage B2B buyers when they start their investigation into problem solutions.
A strong digital presence, targeted content, predictive analytics and emphasis on the customer experience contribute to your success in aligning with these trends.
Contact us to learn how Internal Results helps you make the strongest impact on your lead generation, data acquisition and content marketing activities.