When it comes to digital transformation in B2B marketing and sales, marketing has led the way in recent years. But now B2B sales teams are finding that they need get up to speed with digital selling in a hurry.
“The pandemic makes digital selling absolutely essential to hitting goal,” says Glenn Eckard, head of client success and experience at Journey Sales (a long-time client of ours). Having launched their well-regarded digital selling solution, called Smart Rooms, in 2015, Journey Sales works with a variety of sales organizations, including some of the largest and most respected brands. So Eckard has been uniquely positioned to observe the urgent drive to master digital selling in real time.
The problem now is the pipeline
“What we’re hearing most right now is concern for pipeline,” says Eckard. Our customers have been closing deals, but account managers, who have always relied on ‘walking the halls’ to tee up new cross-sell and upsell opportunities with existing clients are eager to find new ways to extend reach and penetrate the new spaces.”
Reluctance to travel is part of the problem, obviously. “But even if the selling teams want to travel, it’s turning out that many customers don’t want them to visit. Often, this is because the buying team has moved remote and doesn’t want to have to travel to their office for a meeting.”
“Besides that, as they come to recognize the effectiveness of a strong digital selling strategy, businesses are realizing that they don’t need to be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a month in T&E.”
Beyond “live” meetings: asynchronous engagement
“Digital selling” says Eckard, goes way beyond live meetings using tools like Zoom. Video meetings can be very effective, but “if sales have no way to maintain the engagement after the session, it’s hard to gain real traction.”
The salesperson needs to make their presence felt, and they can’t do it the old way — by just dropping by. Add to that the pressure of closing, say, eight deals right now and simultaneously teeing up eight more for the next quarter. No-one has the bandwidth to do all this with online video meetings alone. This “asynchronous” side of digital selling is crucial for sales.
A branded digital sales experience
“What’s needed,” argues Eckard, “are private, secure, branded digital customer experiences with a continuous flow of relevant content, where customers can invite colleagues into the community, and where and buyer and seller can work together to figure out how the solutions being offered can help achieve the customer’s goals.”
When it comes to delivering the optimal asynchronous digital selling experience, Eckard says video plays a pivotal role with its ability to put across a lot of information clearly, in short order.
When will things get back to “normal”?
Eckard believes that many of the changes the pandemic has enforced on sales, will persist in some form. “Nothing will relieve the pressure to fill the pipeline and close deals,” he says, “but nearly everything about what organizations do to make those things happen will continue to change.”