Few things can disrupt B2B sales activity as much as uncertainty. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to linger, companies essentially have two options: continue to operate according to their existing sales strategy or take measures to restructure their B2B sales approach. What is B2B sales going to look like in the future? Below is a look at the changing landscape of B2B sales and the 5 ways companies are adjusting their strategy to achieve sales goals in spite of an uncertain future.
What are the Key Challenges Facing the B2B Sales Industry?
Before diving into the ways that companies are modifying their B2B sales strategies, it is helpful to understand the specific changes and challenges that prompted their those modifications. Here are three challenges impacting the B2B sales industry.
1) Budget cuts
“With the pandemic continuing to disrupt business conditions, marketing leaders are rethinking their advertising strategies. In a recent Gartner survey of marketers, the majority of respondents reported significant budget cuts.” – Rama Ramaswami, Gartner, Inc.
Widespread budget cuts have impacted virtually every industry since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged. Sales, marketing, and IT are among the departments experiencing the greatest cuts, with 61% of marketers expecting their budgets to decline.
2) Virtual events are replacing live meetings
Safety concerns and travel restrictions have transformed the way that companies meet and negotiate with clients. Live meetings and industry trade shows have been replaced by online meetings and virtual expos. Finally, live product demos are now a rarity as more companies switch to offering free online demos.
3) Late payments and payment defaults
“A survey into business-to-business (B2B) payment behaviour has revealed a massive increase in late payments across USMCA…Across the region, 43% of the total value of invoices issued were unpaid by the due date, a sharp increase from 25% last year. Businesses throughout the US reported a 72% year-on-year increase in payment defaults.” – Atradius
As if budget cuts and the inability to meet face to face with customers were not enough, companies must also contend with a massive increase in late payments and payment defaults. Failure to receive payments on time can further hamper cash flow for businesses that are already struggling to remain afloat.
What Can Companies Do to Adjust to These Changes?
Achieving your B2B sales goals despite the changes above requires a strategic shift in your sales and marketing approach. Failure to adjust your strategy can leave your company struggling to produce results while your competitors pivot. Here are some measures that can help you keep you generate B2B sales while contending with limited budgets and payment challenges.
1) Apply the 80/20 rule to marketing activities
“In B2B marketing, the 20% of activities that produce 80% of the benefits are directly related to increasing brand awareness, generating inquiries, qualifying leads and helping the sales force meet its revenue objectives.” – Christopher Ryan, Customer Think
The path to achieving sales goals during uncertain times begins with a lean but effective marketing plan. Also known as the Pareto Principle, the 80/20 rule can help budget-strapped companies continue to get their message out to customers using a core collection of marketing techniques that produce the greatest sales results.
2) Train staff to sell virtually
While a return to live events and meetings is probable, its reemergence will likely be slow. In the meantime, sales executives and account representatives should feel comfortable participating in webinars, podcasts, and virtual trade shows. This comfort is best gained by providing comprehensive training.
3) Focus on core products and services
“Keep in mind that a small percentage of items are responsible for the majority of customer requests. Concentrate on these items! Only if you have time left over analyze the items that are requested less often.” – Jon Schreibfeder, MDM
Budget cuts, staffing shortages, and cash flow challenges have made it difficult for many companies to offer the same breadth of products and services they offered before the pandemic. Focusing on the most popular “core” offerings has helped some of America’s leading B2B companies continue to maintain a strong industry presence.
4) Improve the live chat experience
The shift to virtual meetings and remote selling has further increased the value of live chat. And with 60% of new customers wanting to discuss pricing information during their first interaction with your company, a high quality live chat experience is a must.
5) Revisit customer payment terms
“Disruption from the coronavirus outbreak is forcing some tough conversations about payments.” – Jason Busch, Spend Matters
When loyal customers struggle to pay invoices, decision-makers face some tough choices regarding payment terms. While it may not be easy, it’s a good idea to sit down with long-time customers and arrive at a solution. Ideally, the solution you find is one that helps you sustain your company’s cash flow while showing sensitivity to your customer’s cash flow challenges.
What is the Best Way to Ensure That Your B2B Sales Strategy is Bullet Proof?
Preparing for the new normal is vital for any company that depends on B2B sales. You must remain on the cutting edge of the B2B landscape and adjust your sales strategy to reflect the latest changes. The single best way to achieve this goal is to sign up for Ascent’s next virtual event to discover the latest developments in the B2B world. Here is what you can expect from our virtual events:
- Virtual speakers with live Q&A
- The ability to network with thousands of other attendees
- Workshops to help you develop your SaaS skills
- The opportunity to purchase VIP tickets to gain access to leading C-suite executives
- Access to special insider deals and opportunities
Depending on your needs, you can choose from a General Pass, Investor Pass, or VIP pass. And if you are on a shoestring budget but would like to get a taste of the many ways our virtual conferences can help your company, you can register for our FREE 2-day Spectator Pass.
We invite you to contact us at Ascent to discover why B2B companies across America are turning to us to help their companies scale. We look forward to helping you refine your B2B sales strategy!