With the isolation that the coronavirus pandemic brought, B2B organizations went through the difficult process of contacting buyers through mostly online channels resulting in a hybrid approach. While difficult to implement at first, the forced hybrid approach ended up being preferred by both customers and sellers alike. In fact, two-thirds of customers prefer remote contact over in-person interactions. The sellers enjoy the flexibility the buyers enjoy the hybrid services. In order to keep up with competition and optimize sales ROI, B2B organizations need to continually refine the remote-first hybrid sales approach.
Hybrid selling weaves together multiple different channels in order to address every possible customer touch point. As a result, it is vital in the function of an Omnichannel. Hybrid selling is an extremely flexible way of reaching buyers that is easy to scale and results in higher profits. It uses both remote and e-commerce to connect with customers and address their needs. Because hybrid selling is omnichannel, it allows for deeper engagement with the customer.
These positive points of hybrid selling have shown their worth. More than 90% of B2B selling organizations have found that this current omnichannel hybrid sales approach is equally or more effective in reaching and working with customers than before the Covid-19 pandemic.
On top of all of this, we have found that B2B buyers are becoming more and more comfortable with using online channels for their purchasing needs. With this in mind, B2B buyers are now seen using at least ten online channels to meet their needs compared to only five channels used five years ago.
There has definitely been some hesitancy with B2B organizations adopting a fully remote or hybrid model as they worry if customers will actually spend on them. We have found that most buyers are actually more comfortable spending a large sum of money on a single transaction with a remote or self-service model. In fact, roughly 70% of buyers are comfortable with spending upwards of $50,000 in one transaction.
Many buyers prefer these remote/hybrid channels, and it makes sense why they prefer them. Most executives do not have the spare time to constantly meet in person with sales reps, and they also prefer quick and efficient access to their suppliers’ products. Remote engagement allows for all of this and more. This aspect of remote and hybrid models became even more imperative when the Covid-19 pandemic swept the globe causing many people to isolate and work from home.
The hybrid sales approach appears to be sticking around for a while, and the biggest reason why is because it is simply more effective and delivers results. Remote sales reps are given the edge of reaching more accounts in the same amount of time as in-person sales reps. This ability to reach more accounts more efficiently allows remote sales reps to generate as much as 50% more revenue.
Sales teams that outperform focus on four areas when responding to customer needs. These four points are flexibility, customer insights, capabilities, and technology. By prioritizing these four areas you can elevate your sales team to become outperformers.
The hybrid sales structure is flexible in that most of the selling is done virtually and that requested resources are deployed efficiently to the buyers. In-person sales still have an important role for specific instances. For example, a large customer with complex needs, an important opportunity that would benefit from in-person sales or a customer that has discussed their preference for in-person meetings. In fact, roughly 40% of customers working with a new supplier are only willing to buy if they met with a sales rep face-to-face. As a result, it is important for B2B organizations to maintain in-person meetings for customers who prefer it.
The remote aspect of the hybrid sales structure also gives managers more flexibility when it comes to planning. Usually, account coverage is reviewed once a year, but outperforming teams review priorities up to once a month. The flexibility of hybrid sales mostly benefits companies that primarily offer solutions. This is because the structure allows for better collaboration with other departments to design the best-fit solutions for customers. For example, many outperforming companies create individual marketing and engineering teams to help sellers work across product lines, explain technical specifications, and make custom offers for customers.
The last part of using flexibility to your advantage is knowing how often in-person engagement should occur and adjusting according to the preferences of your customer. For example, many customers prefer what’s called the “rule of thirds” where in-person meetings, remote interaction, and self-service are roughly divided into thirds.
It is still important for sales reps to accurately log data from customer management relationship systems (CRMs) in a hybrid sales approach. In fact, putting in the effort to input accurate customer data yields higher returns in a hybrid setting. This is because gathering data and creating insights is much easier and faster since digital interactions are immediately recorded and saved. Automated analytics track the interactions between customers and sales reps over digital channels. With this information, they can make suggestions and make sharing knowledge easier for each party. Digital tools also allow representatives to take notes faster and more efficiently. For example, transcribing a phone call or video with a customer.
During this process of gathering insights, all digital communication can be recorded and added to the CRM, creating a larger and more helpful data pool. This information helps B2B organizations figure out which buyers are at a higher priority than the others and the most effective way to spend their limited time with these buyers. This information will ultimately shape the content strategy and go-to-market strategy. For example, collected data on the interests of the buyer, like what videos they watch and what websites they spend the most time on can allow sales reps to prioritize the warmest leads.
In this day and age, the options for new and exciting technology are overwhelming. You don’t want to overwhelm the IT department with unnecessary, fancy new technology. To thoughtfully take on new technology it’s a good idea to find the pain points in your sales processes first. The pain points are usually already located by the organization as they immensely slow down productivity. For example, many B2B sales organizations ran into a problem where they were using multiple different applications to get insight on customers, sometimes up to four applications! Having to use multiple programs to collect a bit of data complicates things and slows down productivity to the speed of a snail. To resolve this issue, these companies usually implement a single sign-on seller dashboard. This will resolve the issue of signing into multiple different applications to review and collect customer information.
Organizations that prioritize tech optimization also look to improve remote interactions with customers. One way this has been done was through the use of virtual whiteboards in meetings with clients. The use of this tool allows for a feeling of in-person interaction and creates more dynamic dialogue.
Changes in sales structure come with changes in sales roles. A hybrid seller has the same goal as a traditional seller, but hybrid sellers use digital channels such as video calls and e-commerce to close deals. As a result hybrid sellers spend roughly half of their time working remotely. A perk of hiring people for hybrid roles is that you can now access a more diverse group of people in your organization. With the majority of hybrid work being conducted remotely, this removes the barrier to entry for talented people who are unable to travel daily to an office or travel long distances for meetings. As a result, people with disabilities and primary caretakers can get jobs as hybrid sales reps.
With how Covid-19 changed the way sales teams work and who can now be a part of a sales team, B2B organizations need to prioritize hiring, training, and capability building so new hybrid sellers are trained and current sales reps are trained for the hybrid role.
Training has traditionally been in person, but with Covid-19 people were restricted to their homes. As a result training exercises started to cease as people adapted to the new remote work style. With the difficulty of fostering new relationships and the lack of mentoring new challenges have been presented to sales organizations. However, we have found that there are three changes you can implement into your sales training to become an outperformer.
All-day video meetings mentally exhaust employees, and long training videos lose the attention of sales reps. To remedy this, set reasonable time limits for meetings and try to only leave critical information for the training. You should also cut down your long training videos into short 10-15 minute videos in a series.
It has been found in just about any business that structured monthly training develops strong bonds between coworkers and greatly increases productivity. By implementing one-on-one training sessions between managers and sales reps you will see an increase in productivity and skill among your sales reps.
The pandemic really forced the hybrid sales structure to take hold and now it is clear that it is here to stay. A hybrid sales structure allows for faster and more convenient communication and feedback. With this cutting edge B2B organizations that embrace the hybrid sales structure are likely to dominate the market.