Six pitfalls to avoid in B2B sales transformation
- Posted on June 16, 2022
- Estimated reading time 3 minutes
Think about these eye-opening statistics for the B2B sector: 85% of B2B buying decisions happen before sales is engaged, yet 55% of buyers say that salespeople aren’t prepared when they’re finally brought in. Is it any wonder then that 80% of B2B buyers say they’ll switch vendors in the next 24 months? No doubt the customer experience will influence decisions to make a switch, and many B2B suppliers are in need of some careful examination of their sales approach to elevate that experience. As business development and sales teams look to employ new customer engagement models, what are some common mistakes we’re seeing?
1. Believing technology implementation is the end goal. Software and technology solutions aren’t silver bullets. Many companies point to user adoption levels as a measurement of success, but adoption (which can be mandated) is simple; it’s user enthusiasm that matters. And the biggest driver of your workforce’s enthusiasm for new technology is the experience it gives them, which brings me to the next pitfall.
2. Ignoring the employee experience. Is your CRM just a deal recording tool, or does it make your sellers’ lives easier by providing a more robust view of their pipeline, making pools of information more readily available, and preparing them to sound more informed in customer discussions? Are there processes that can be automated that free them up to spend more time selling and closing deals?
3. Drawing a line between B2B and B2C engagement. Driving an optimized experience is just as important in B2B as B2C. In the B2B space, we’re seeing a plurality of millennials as buyers, and they’re accustomed to their personal B2C experiences, which they expect in their business life as well. These same new buyers are behind an important new statistic: digital interactions are 2-3x more important than physical. Organizations must help their salesforce adapt to the fact that they’re not always going to sit across from their buyers.
4. Not establishing effective collaboration between marketers and sellers. Along the customer journey from awareness to service, the B2B sales process is long and complex. If marketing and sales aren’t tightly aligned, inefficiencies in the funnel will yield both bad leads that marketing confidently generates and good leads that don’t work for sales. And, ultimately, a distrustful relationship. Together, they must define what a “sales ready lead” is and the role of marketers in nurturing the prospect before it gets to sales. But it goes beyond leads. Buyer expectations are changing, and more teams are involved in the purchasing process rather than individuals. Engaging marketing in account-based programs can make an impact in team selling.
5. Gathering too much data and not enough insights. Be purposeful in your reporting. Technology can generate reports on just about anything, but is your company really making effective use of them to drive insights that close more deals? Or grow your organizational agility? These past two years have shown that those companies who really understood their customers through data insights kept their products and services relevant to their market and remained resilient through uncertain times.
6. Defining technology tools as a business cost vs. a growth engine. At Avanade, we work with a lot of contact centers, and the default view of them is typically as a cost center. Instead of asking how many calls an agent can handle and how quickly they can end the call, ask how that agent can actually drive an experience with the customer so that they buy again. Establishing metrics around first call resolution, customer satisfaction, and net promoter score can re-energize your contact centers. Companies will get out of technology exactly what they expect. So have high expectations of the strategic role it can play in the sales cycle.
By avoiding the pitfalls of transforming sales, B2B companies will lay a strong foundation for new customer acquisition, increased buying frequency and order size, and decreased attrition.