Over the next five years, an exponential rise in digital interactions between buyers and suppliers will break traditional sales models, according to Gartner, Inc. In fact, Gartner’s Future of Sales research shows that by 2025, 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels. This is because 33% of all buyers desire a seller-free sales experience – a preference that climbs to 44% for millennials.
“As baby boomers retire and millennials mature into key decision-making positions, a digital-first buying posture will become the norm,” said Cristina Gomez, managing vice president for the Gartner Sales Practice. “As customers increasingly learn and buy digitally, sales reps become just one of many possible sales channels. Because of this, sales organizations must be able to sell to customers everywhere the customer expects to engage, interact and transact with suppliers.”
Gartner research shows buyers typically spend only 17% of their time meeting with potential suppliers when they are considering a purchase. With less customer face time, virtual selling via digital channels will predominate.
“Sales reps will need to embrace new tools and channels, as well as a new manner of engaging customers, matching their sales activity to their customers’ buying practices and information collecting needs,” added Mrs. Gomez.
To meet customers’ buying preferences and adopt a more digital-first approach, chief sales officers (CSOs) and other sales leaders must consider the following:
Diversify Digital Selling Tools & Channels: Sellers need digital tools that build engagement with customers, particularly with their customers’ decision makers, in a way that replicates the traditional forms of selling. These digital engagement tools are necessary to overcome the challenges of aligning larger groups of internal stakeholders virtually and asynchronously. Sellers must be able to use multiple, different, simultaneous digital sales channels.
Rethink Sales Enablement: To learn how to align selling activity to customers’ preferred engagement channels and purchasing journey, sellers will need entirely new methods of sales enablement. Gartner’s 2019 survey of B2B sales organizations indicated that sales enablement was the most critical priority last year. The pandemic accelerated this priority, as CSOs seek new techniques to reduce the risk of lost sales.
Prioritize the Seller Experience & Coaching: To keep sellers engaged and executing sales, CSOs must find the right balance between the technology deployed and the volume of content that sellers interact with to do their jobs. CSOs and sales enablement leaders must train sellers both synchronously and asynchronously in order to better optimize virtual sales enablement practices.