3 Steps for Getting B2B Sales Back to the ‘Not Normal’ Normal

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When the COVID-19 pandemic first began, the immediate focus for most companies was to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of their customers, partners, and employees.

For sales, business continuity was critical. Sales leaders needed to deploy the right collaboration capabilities, videoconferencing tools, e-signature applications, and more to engage with customers virtually. The approach erred, appropriately, on the side of speed to minimize disruption to revenue generation and business development activities.

However, as the economy and marketplace begin to physically reopen in the coming months, sales leaders are now shifting their attention to recovery. The consistent question we are hearing from sales leaders is, “When can I get my reps back in the field again?”

The answer? It’s complicated.

The ‘Not Normal’ Normal

As we all know, the “new normal” will not be normal at all. A new baseline has been set for how prospects will engage, how buyers will buy, and how sales reps will collaborate.

The phase that many companies are in now has created a good opportunity to take a step back and rethink the best approach for driving sales in the new climate. Winning organizations will likely use this time to understand how buying journeys have changed and reimagine how they interact with prospects—and CRM will be even more critical to their success than ever before. B2B sales leaders may reconsider the long-held belief that face-to-face engagement is always superior to digital, and new selling motions will emerge to support new buying processes.

The Future B2B Sales Journey

What will these new selling motions look like?

To start, most customers are seeking valuable experiences from start to finish; this means that the sales journey will need to be reimagined from the perspective of the customer. To make the buying experience more human, sales teams will need to rely on digital technologies that enable better engagement. Reimagining the sales journey will include these three steps:

1. Up-level personalization. Now more than ever, sellers need to deliver the right engagement and interactions at the right times, and companies will need an ecosystem of digital capabilities to help enable these interactions successfully. CRM software needs to match current customer needs for tailored interactions and customized offerings.

The right CRM tools can empower teams to build relationships more effectively and provide the best customer experience from evaluation to purchase and beyond. This can help ultimately drive more customer loyalty and retention by helping customers understand and fully utilize the value of your business’s products or services, whether that’s through:

  • shortening delivery cycles by jump-starting configuration based on data collected during the sales and service process;
  • reducing customers’ operational risk and working capital needs through tailored solutions; and
  • aligning your products’ road maps to your customers’ emerging needs in a collaborative and transparent way.

2. Prepare for long-term remote and digital sales models. Most sales moved to remote models during the early peak of the pandemic, and companies should maintain and strengthen virtual sales operations for the foreseeable future. People will remain wary about in-person interactions even after organizations return to their offices. With so much uncertainty about how COVID-19 will continue to impact business, remote selling via videoconferencing, phone, or social media will be key to the next normal. Previously, digital communication worked particularly well with repeat customers and buyers who were already well-informed about a company’s products or services. However, in this climate every category of customer and prospect is becoming more digitally savvy, and sellers need to rely on digital for new and established customers. The shift to digital also means that the sales cycle is effectively shortened, as decisions are being made based off a videoconference call or a virtual demo.

3. Work even closer with marketing to support sales. To help add value to clients and prospects beyond just the offerings you are selling, work with your company’s marketing team to create new assets and resources. This can be anything from virtual events or panels to whitepapers, videos, or blog posts, depending on your audience’s needs. Closer alignment between marketing and sales can also help organizations attract inbound prospects, making the lives of sellers exponentially better.

Stay Aligned and Agile

Above all, businesses must be aligned and agile to survive. Sales leaders managing their businesses’ CRM and digital technology tools should lean into their executive leadership to help shape and craft the new norm, and work in lockstep throughout the entire process. While enabling close alignment is critical at the best of times, it will be even more important as companies work through this challenging time to emerge stronger together.

The coming months will also show that agile companies reign supreme—with policies, practices, and expectations changing faster than ever before. Those that can innovate and pivot on a dime may be able to ride the waves of uncertainty while keeping business operations strong.

Business leaders have an opportunity to bring their digital prowess to bear by painting a picture of the art of the possible, by translating desired experiences into digital capabilities and by keeping a pulse on the fast-changing CRM landscape to ensure they can meet the needs of the “Not Normal Normal.”

Harry Datwani, principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP, leads Deloitte’s Sales Transformation for the U.S, and focuses on aligning sales strategy, process, operations, and digital technology to drive growth and optimize returns on sales investments. Daniel Worthen is a senior manager for Deloitte Consulting LLP, and helps clients improve customer experience and increase sales and marketing teams’ productivity to grow profitably and gain market share.

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