McKinsey has recently published an article full of interesting data about how COVID-19 has shifted B2B sales – and I believe it is important for all B2B marketers to understand this shift. Here’s quick summary of the points I find most interesting.
- The “field sales” paradigm of buying and selling B2B products and services has shifted
This article is based on recent research on “decision makers’ behavior globally across industries since the crisis began” and it reveals that “the big digital shift is here to stay.” Now that business leaders have experienced the ease of buying and selling digitally, the paradigm has shifted.
What’s so great about this new reality? One benefit is the safety of everyone involved, when it comes to exposure to disease as well as other hazards (driving, etc.) Another is the ability for customers and prospects to do “self-serve” research, using websites, Zoom meetings, and calls. Online interactions are now seen as normal and acceptable ways for buyers to get the information they need to make decisions and place orders.
Of the leaders surveyed, only “about 20% of B2B buyers say they hope to return to in-person sales, even in sectors where field-sales models have traditionally dominated, such as pharma and medical products.”
2) Large purchases and re-orders are happening online, too
The belief that larger purchases would have to be made in-person has also been proven false. “Notably, 70% of B2B decision makers say they are open to making new, fully self-serve or remote purchases in excess of $50,000, and 27% would spend more than $500,000” online.
This is a sea-change, as the prevailing wisdom was that online purchases were appropriate for consumer goods and smaller items only. How will this change the process for larger purchases online? Are you seeing this already in your business?
3) Video and live-chat have emerged as sales tools for closing business
In the field sales model, there have been hotly contested geographic territories and hours of driving for sales reps to get to in-person meetings with the sole purpose of closing deals. Now, “video and live chat have emerged as the predominant channels for interacting and closing sales.”
Customers still like person-to-person interaction – that hasn’t gone away. But now they are more comfortable doing it online rather than in person, and Zoom has emerged as the dominant channel where this is happening. I recently wrote about better ways to use this tool, as we all start to feel a bit of “Zoom fatigue.”
This shift away from person-to-person sales isn’t just a consultant’s theory; senior leaders have shared that “revenues generated from video-related interactions has jumped by 69% since April 2020.” In fact, ecommerce and videoconferencing, combined, now account for 43% B2B revenues. This surpasses any other sales channel.
Have you seen these shifts in your own behavior? Or in the sales of your products and services? Are you still hesitant or frustrated about moving more of the sales process for your services or products online? If so, contact me and let’s talk!