The coronavirus pandemic has put businesses between a rock and a hard place. Virus-related economic strain has forced leaders to find new ways to stimulate growth, while at the same time, downsizing workforces and resources. This position is sadly common across a wide span of industries as the pandemic has taken its toll.
While no sector has proven immune, B2B sales has seen a particularly heightened impact. For example, the traditional processes that sales professionals use to curate an engaging and seamless customer journey experience (CJX) have been completely upended. Customer-centricity – the defining sales dogma of the last decade – becomes much harder to achieve when every aspect of the business faces disruption.
The good news, however, is that there are lessons to be learned amid crisis. It is an opportunity for businesses to get right at the heart of what customers want – eliminating the superfluous and maximizing potential value. Especially during such a volatile period, staying synced with evolving needs and expectations can provide a valuable roadmap for the eventual return to normalcy.
Here are three ways to yield opportunity out of disruption, and set up your B2B sales for future CJX success:
1. Scalability is Your Best Friend
Whether you’re an enterprise organization launching a new product line or a start-up building a brand from scratch, bringing new offerings to market can feel like a herculean task. Add in a pandemic, and you’ve mixed a potent cocktail. The CJX has proven to be a valuable asset in overcoming most challenges – when you deliver deeply personalized touchpoints, driven by insights and expertise, sales reps can build the type of relationships needed to make a go-to-market strategy successful.
But B2B sales is not a one-size-fits-all venture. Each customer and prospect is unique, with their own set of challenges and opportunities that need to be solved. What the pandemic has proven is the importance of scale – dialing up or down to best meet individual needs. For example, amid uncertainty, enterprise businesses might feel the pressure to deliver deeper and more targeted touchpoints, while smaller organizations might look to convey global support to help uplift customers. Scalability and flexibility are enduring traits that will be valuable long after COVID enters the history books.
2. Explore Blended Models
From “Zoom Shirts” to home offices, the pandemic has fundamentally and permanently changed the workplace – and that includes how sales are conducted. It has jumpstarted a trend that had long been simmering: balancing traditional human-first tactics and digital sales tools. Where the exact percentage split differed based on factors such as industry, deal size, and individual preference, the pandemic has put the ball squarely in digital’s court. An IDC report found that DX – or digital experience – is reaching $1.3 trillion globally, with projections to reach approximately $2 trillion by 2022.
In many ways, increasing B2B sales digital fluency is a great turning point for the industry. It puts the power in the hands of the customer, letting them dictate the nature of the relationship so sales representatives respond accordingly. Do not, however, take this to mean that digital will be the dominant trend when the pandemic ends. Because each customer is so different, no business can assume one tactic will be more effective than the other. Rather, this is an opportunity to equalize your sales engine’s approach to matching human and digital processes and create a hybrid sales experience. While some customers will come out of the pandemic happy to lean on self-service tools and other tech touches, others will be eager to return to handshakes and in-person meetings. It’s imperative to be ready for either eventuality.
3. Let Insights Paint a Picture
Delivering the level of personalization and targeted touchpoints that modern customers expect is simply impossible without data. A full, 360-degree view of the customer from the moment of first engagement to the latest downloaded content is today’s gold standard for B2B sales. It’s how sales reps can not only identify new growth opportunities and drive new revenue streams, but partner with customer success teams to manage customer health and prevent churn. Without data and insights, businesses cannot be the resource and partner customers expect them to be.
Right now is the time to understand how your organization captures the voice of the customer to fuel insights and action. Where are there gaps? What are customers asking for? How is the sales pipeline working across the entire organization to maximize visibility and identify red flags and opportunities? When all of these pieces aren’t working together, businesses aren’t just hobbled in attending to their customers, but they blind themselves to new innovation and growth opportunities. Regardless of the pandemic, customers are your greatest asset, and they need to be treated as such.
The Environment Changes, Customers Don’t
While the lens through which we view the customer journey experience will change alongside the landscape, the fundamental expectations of customers will remain static. B2B customers want seamless, engaging experiences driven by personalization and value. By tapping into the lessons of this crisis and leveraging it as a growth opportunity, businesses can find a light at the end of the tunnel.