COVID-19 forced many business-to-business companies to shift from storefront operations to online customer service and sales this year. Successful ones underwent digital transformation to adapt to the changed environment and connect with consumers.
The customer solutions team at Google believes this new way of operating will continue after the pandemic ends. They say companies are responding to the growing number of consumers buying goods and services online. Nearly 60% of B2B companies are accelerating digital transformation efforts in 2020.
Furthermore, 66% have completed digital transformation initiatives that encountered resistance before COVID-19.
Rise of the remote sales model
Over the next two years, 87% of B2B company executives intend to place a high priority on enterprise agility. This includes adjusting how they approach change management and how they implement changes to their organization’s strategy.
Gartner defines an enterprise solution as integrating multiple facets of a company’s business through the interchange of information from numerous business process areas and related databases.
What’s powering digital transformation? Remote sales and service models are gaining traction. About 75% of B2B companies believe new remote/self-service sales models are just as effective – if not more so – than traditional models, according to management consulting firm McKinsey & Company.
McKinsey cites safety as one reason remote sales have grown in popularity. Another is that buyers now enjoy the ease and speed by which they can access information, and place product and service orders.
In other words, this way of doing business is working. Only 20% of B2B buyers want to engage in face-to-face sales once again, McKinsey & Company says.
Research by McKinsey reveals 7 out of 10 B2B decision-makers will consider making fully self-serve or remote purchases of $50,000 and up. Meanwhile, 27% would spend over $500,000. These are additional signs digital sales are here to stay.
Digital transformation includes video prospecting
As a result of the pandemic, video conferencing and live chat are now the two main channels for prospecting and closing sales with B2B customers.
Since April of 2020, revenue generated by video interactions has increased by nearly 70%. E-commerce combined with Zoom, WebEx, and Microsoft Teams now account for over 40% of all B2B revenue – more than any other channel.
Customers have expressed a preference for video versus phone calls.
Increased sales enablement
Edelman partnered with LinkedIn on a survey of 400 B2B executives to gauge how the pandemic has impacted the executives’ decision-making. It found that COVID-19 has changed how businesses operate, set strategic priorities, and measure their performance.
Over one-third of B2B executives who participated said sales enablement activities are increasing or changing due to the pandemic.
(Sales enablement, according to HubSpot, is the process of providing your sales team with the marketing resources they need to close more business, such as content, tools, and knowledge.)
As for setting priorities, two-thirds of these executives feel it’s critical to bolster understanding of their buyers’ customers. This can be accomplished through new or intensified research or data gathering. Also, 70% believe it’s vital to communicate their company’s expertise in helping customers protect or grow their sales.
Nearly 75% say doing nothing is not an option.
Become a digital transformation consultant to clients
Edelman says savvy B2B marketers recognize the pandemic presents an opportunity to re-position their product and service offerings moving forward. They should provide clients with consultative services such as valuable content, thought leadership insights, and webinars or panel discussions. All of these can help drive engagement, strengthen relationships, and reduce customer churn.
Keep in mind that B2B clients are taking longer to make purchases, so there will now be additional touchpoints during the buyer’s journey. To gain a competitive advantage, B2B companies should be investing in digital transformation tools and technologies and using them to help clients come out of 2020 stronger than before the pandemic arrived.
LeadingResponse agrees digital transformation is necessary to meet the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s B2B customers. Learn more about our enterprise solutions for professional service providers.