In a digital age, the markets are changing rapidly and the trends in B2B sales are also changing with progress. Buyers in the B2B market are getting younger. Today it is predominantly the mid-thirties who decide on deals. They are digital natives, used to shopping online and expect to receive individual advice on purchasing decisions that they have to make professionally - just as they are used to from their private buying behavior. According to a study by Roland Berger and Google, around 50 percent of the deals go to the account of digital natives. Only about 40 percent of sales in Germany have a strategy for digitizing their sales. A few of the trends in B2B sales 2021 are easy to implement and bring every sales one step closer to success.
The topic of digitization is actually nothing new, but it is an enormous challenge for many companies, especially in the B2B area. For them, the new consumer behavior of the target group means that they have to rethink quickly and optimize their sales process in order not to lose leads. But the smaller companies in particular simply lack the resources to commission agencies or hire specialist staff. In view of the rapid changes, the following questions arise: What does the future of B2B sales look like and what should B2B companies pay attention to today? One thing is already becoming clear in the trends in B2B sales: social selling and addressing customers will play an important role in the success of a company.
Who says what the trends are in B2B sales?
In order to recognize what will be successful, it is important to understand the consumer behavior of the younger generation. The communication and relationship behavior of the so-called “millennials” - that is, those who were born between the early 1980s and the late 1990s - differs significantly from the previous generation. Millennials are used to shopping online. They prefer to find out more on the World Wide Web than personally contacting a sales representative or leafing through endless catalogs. They also expect an answer at any time, because they are always available themselves. And they use Facebook, XING and LinkedIn to build networks and maintain relationships. All of this also has an impact on the B2B market.
In addition, more and more new players are entering the B2B market who are reshaping the competitive environment. Digital players who come from the B2C sector are increasingly trying to play a part in the B2B market. The B2C companies use their experience in dealing with customers. B2B companies still have some lessons to catch up on here. Which trends in B2B sales will be decisive for a successful company in 2021?
New among the trends in B2B sales: social selling is becoming important
The network is currently developing into the most important place for contacts with business customers - and the trend is towards social selling. Social selling means offering customers added value by receiving information about the product and its usefulness in as many places on the Internet as possible. This should create trust and the provider markets himself, as a positive side effect, knowledgeable and helpful. But it is primarily about building a kind of “digital relationship” with potential customers via social platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram. The basic idea from an entrepreneur's point of view is that they present themselves so well on social networks that potential customers approach them by themselves. Products are no longer sold, but solutions for a current problem. It is just as important that salespeople have a face and are not just an anonymous voice on the other end of the phone, for example via the network on LinkedIn. Decision-makers can also be addressed directly via platforms such as LinkedIn. Social selling has long since arrived in the B2C sector and is now also penetrating the trends in B2B sales.
Happy as in B2C: create a positive user experience
Millennials expect the same standards when shopping as in B2C. This means that they would like to receive individual advice online and have the opportunity to interact at any time. For B2B companies, this means providing information and ordering options easily and intuitively in the web shop and specifying contact options. Chatbots are a way to create as much interaction as possible, but also Guided Selling Tools offer a simple and good way to create added value for the user. Other factors that are important for the young target group are personalization and convenience. Successful online sales are able to respond to the needs of the customer and suggest the right product to them with just a few clicks.
It all depends on the mix: Networking online and offline sales
Digitizing sales does not mean that the classic customer advice and field service will be eliminated in the future. Rather, digitization offers the opportunity to simplify work processes. Customer advisors can, for example, use digital services and devices such as smartphones or tablets to access the entire product portfolio quickly and easily while on the move. In addition, newly developed tools help salespeople to filter out the right product with just a few clicks in order to recommend it to the customer. With the right tools, sales processes can save enormous amounts of time and increase the efficiency of B2B sales. Such tools can be product configurators or a sales app. Digitization plays a major role in the trends in B2B sales, but ultimately it will be important that digital and personal sales go hand in hand, because in the end you don't want to completely do without personal contact, as is the case with the social selling trend shows.
Being able to understand customers closely means using insights correctly
The market is changing at breakneck speed. If you want to keep up, you will not be able to avoid observing market trends and analyzing information on the purchasing and decision-making behavior of customers. The customer journey can now be traced very well with the help of collected data. How do website visitors move? From which page did you land on the landing page and at what point in the purchasing process do you get off again? Such questions can be answered with Google Analytics or other implemented tools.
However, in order to take a critical look at digitization, this also means that sales must collect more data in order to tailor products and services even better to the customer. Without creating at least a weak digital footprint for the customer, it is becoming increasingly difficult for companies to react quickly to market trends. Knowing numbers, understanding ourselves is extremely important in order to recognize market trends in "real time". Appropriate analytics tools are therefore one of the major trends in B2B sales today.
The most important of all trends in B2B sales: See digitization as an opportunity!
Digitization offers exciting opportunities for sales. Key points are “simplification”, “optimization” or “efficiency”. Salespeople and personal customer advice are still important for a successful purchase, but a significant change in the customer journey can be observed: more and more personal contact only takes place after the customer has already informed himself online and the purchase decision has basically been made has already fallen. Accordingly, sales processes have to become simpler, faster and more convenient and potential customers have to be picked up when they first search for a product on the World Wide Web. It will therefore be important to attract customers' attention early on, for example with social selling - and that also in the B2B market!
Despite the many predictions about online retail, many companies are still asking themselves how much potential the digitization of sales really has. Our answer: a lot! Most B2B companies have only spent a fraction of their sales budget on digital channels. This is not only well invested in paid advertising on Google or Facebook, no, there are now other investments in digitization that bring considerable benefits very quickly. For example, equipping the sales department with tablets, with which salespeople can flexibly access both the product portfolio and customer data, can effectively and quickly increase a company's sales.
In particular, companies that sell products in large numbers as well as products that require explanation to a partially anonymous group of customers are now offered great opportunities by digitization. In ten years' time, the trends mentioned will have long been part of everyday business life. In order to keep pace with digitization and advance your B2B company, now is the right time to restructure your own sales. Large companies like Henkel or Telekom have already digitized their sales and are enjoying success. Today's customers live out the desire for individuality in their consumer behavior. This is where our Digital Product Selector intervenes, strongly accommodating the desire for individuality and creating real customer loyalty.
You will find out how our solution from FoxBase helps your company to digitize sales in a future-oriented manner here.