How B2B sales is evolving and what this means for your team

Sales is evolving. Not only are we operating in a low-growth economy in most developed regions of the world, but how buyers behave is changing. Sales managers and account managers need to evolve and adapt to survive and thrive.

An influential McKinsey study indicates that companies who’ve started to embrace the “science of B2B sales” are outperforming competitors.

Implementing new sales methodologies is profitable. With data showing that revenues in these companies are 2.3 times industry standard, profitability up 3 to 5 percent, and shareholder value up 8 percent, on average. Good news for those willing to innovate. But what is the science of B2B sales, and how can your company benefit from this?

Understanding the new science of B2B sales

Marketing and sales are more closely aligned than ever before. No longer are companies making the choice between a sales team and digital marketing. Both are essential if you want to generate sustainable revenue. And this change is coming from buyers, not seller.

Buyers have more control. B2B buyers, budget holders and internal influencers use search engines and social networks to find the solutions they need. According to McKinsey, “Our research indicates that market leaders view digital investments as the glue that holds together a powerful multichannel sales strategy.”

The majority of first-time buyers prefer to speak to a salesperson (76 percent), with the majority conducting searches, asking for recommendations and reading reviews beforehand. Hence the importance of social selling, something that 91% of companies expected to continue after investing in it during 2016.

Closing more deals

Social selling and inbound marketing serves two key purposes. Creating awareness. Since buyers are entering the sales funnel at a later point, they need to be aware of your brand to consider getting in contact. Or if you’ve contacted them, marketing creates an awareness that wouldn’t exist otherwise. Without that awareness it is more difficult to build and establish the trust that is ultimately essential to the sales process.

Beyond awareness, marketing and sales enablement supports the work of account managers. When it comes to repeat sales, account managers can see more clients if marketing is doing some of the work. In the McKinsey study, only 52 percent of buyers surveyed felt the need to speak to a salesperson or account manager when making a repeat or similar purchase.

Once the relationship is already established, it is easier to sell to a happy customer. This shift to a self-serve approach makes it easier for account managers to spend more time cultivating long-term relationships, and meeting with more clients. Ultimately, inbound marketing, social selling and sales enablement are powerful support systems for sales teams, making it easier for companies to generate more revenue.

Role of technology

Technology, naturally, plays a key role in the modern sales environment. From customer relationship management (CRM) systems to field sales reporting tools, instant demo/call services, and predictive analytics to score sales leads, managers have a lot more data than they could access.

McKinsey is convinced that: “Market leaders of the future are using advanced analytics to build a granular account, product, and geographic profile of each of their customers. These profiles are then augmented with relevant external data such as news reports, public financial information, and social media to generate a truly 360-degree view of each customer.”

Combined with your teams knowledge of customers and lead-scoring algorithms, it will get easier to target the right prospects at the right time with solutions that you know they are going to need. For your team, these changes mean they can spend more time prospecting for new clients and less in meetings that don’t result in a sale. Everyone wins in this new sales environment.