COVID-19 has forced the mass adoption of new ways of working. Prior to the Coronavirus outbreak, conventional wisdom suggested that traditional office environments were critical to productivity, culture, collaboration and success.
The same goes for face-to-face B2B sales and relationship management customer interactions.
But the pandemic has forced the adoption of new ways of working. B2B sales and relationship managers have had to reimagine their work – working from home, conducting meetings in the virtual world, staying close to customers, and maintaining productivity and collaboration with colleagues remotely.
They’ve undoubtedly learned many valuable lessons from this large-scale work-from-home experiment, but as we move forward now’s the time to solidify experiences and optimise the B2B sales and relationship management model of the future – setting teams, and indeed organisations as a whole, up for long-term success.
After all, it’s looking increasingly likely this shift to remote working will be with us for some time to come.
According to McKinsey, 96% of B2B sales teams have fully or partially shifted to remote working, and 79% of companies say they are very likely, or somewhat likely, to sustain these shifts in remote working practices for 12+ months post-COVID.
These facts are backed up by almost every analyst and commentator out there. Forrester similarly reports that almost half of all companies are considering implementing permanent remote working strategies.
So how to optimise the B2B sales and relationship model for the future of remote work?
McKinsey advise on creating a “pod” of digital enablement to migrate from face-to-face selling to remote selling. This is a view we highly endorse, as we truly believe in harnessing the opportunity to reimagine the B2B sales and relationship management model for a better future.
And it can definitely be better – McKinsey research during the pandemic suggests that it’s twice as likely that companies providing outstanding digital experiences will be selected as primary suppliers by customers today.
Here are our top 6 ways you can optimise home working with digital-insight enablement.
Stay close to customers and stay relevant to their COVID-19 environment
In times of crisis, customers look towards those who understand their entire business. Tracking and filtering what is happening within customer segments is more vital than ever before. Value selling is the name of the game today.
Digital sales tools providing live dynamics across the customer base (both as a result of COVID-19, and despite of it), will ensure you uncover smarter and deeper insights to synthesise a data-driven understanding of customer wants, needs, pains and opportunities.
In doing so you can personalise customer experiences and connect with them in more meaningful, relevant and value-driven ways.
Artesian at Home Top Tip: If you’re struggling to stay on top of business news relating to the Coronavirus and its impact on key sectors, we recently launched a free daily briefing email to do just that for you. Likewise, we’ve introduced a new watchlist topic filter to surface articles relating to your key accounts and the COVID-19 crisis, which will help you understand what’s happening in their world.
Continue to identify high potential customers and create target lists
New business growth may be harder to come by, but you are more likely to thrive if you act to capture market share and grow new business during downturns, rather than wait for the recovery to begin.
It’s about being agile, identifying the right prospects, and focussing efforts in the right places.
Digital sales tools using real-time customer dynamics in tandem with advanced prospecting, targeting, and segmentation functionality can provide you with a first-mover advantage that other players cannot match.
Artesian at Home Top Tip: Build prospect lists with just a few clicks with Artesian. Find out more about high-potential customers, reference financial records, and explore company contacts in one consolidated view. Reduce research time by filtering by number of employees, directors, SIC codes, financial and credit data, and exporting lists for prospecting.
Maintain relationships without face-to-face meetings
Retaining customers is the foundation of pandemic recovery. Homeworking will of course impact customer relationships. The reduced frequency or elimination of face-to-face customer meetings means the quality and frequency of remote communications must increase if you are to keep customers engaged, maintain relationships, and increase satisfaction levels.
Sharing content, delivering personalised communications, and crafting tailored, relevant and timely outreach all require a constant stream of insight and intelligence.
Digital sales tools that provide a constant stream of actionable insight and intelligence can drive content creation and uncover trigger events that highlight when a customer would benefit from a well-timed email or piece of content.
Artesian at Home Top Tip: Allow Artesian to pick up the slack, by scanning every source of news, social and corporate data, and refining it to only the things you care about. Keep our platform open and you’ll catch those gems that enable you to be proactive, credible and insightful.
Optimise digital interactions with insight
According to Forrester, 80% of the B2B sales cycle is happening in digital settings.
Sales processes are swiftly moving to video, whether that be new business meetings, product demos, customer catch-ups, training, and support sessions.
The average number of meetings we’re all having has gone up by 13%.
No wonder Zoom has been one of the biggest winners of the pandemic, with 300 million daily active participants.
But whether you use Zoom, Google Meetings or Microsoft Teams, the average duration of meetings has reduced by 20%, meaning you have an even shorter window to capture attention during virtual face-to-face interactions.
How great would it be if you could augment every Zoom meeting by throwing in a useful or insightful anecdote at the vital moment? You can.
Digital sales tools help with vital meeting preparation, pulling in news, social, market, and financial insights about customers as well as the individuals you’ll be ‘meeting’ with.
Being prepared will help ensure you enter the Zoom ready to tackle their challenges head-on, understand with more confidence what they need and why, inspire them to think differently, meet their expectations, and anticipate their questions.
Artesian at Home Top tip: Keep your Artesian platform open alongside the video meeting for the very latest updates, so you can surprise and delight by being the most informed in Zoom or alternative video conferencing providers.
Augment use of LinkedIn to stay abreast of changing buyer contacts
Due to layoffs and furloughs, buyer contacts and decision-makers are changing constantly. Likewise so are their needs.
As they change role, the team is restructured, or their organisation pivots LinkedIn data can instantly become inaccurate or often irrelevant as preferences and needs change.
LinkedIn and Sales Navigator are limited by the nature of the data that feeds them – it’s curated, and doesn’t deliver wider organisational and market influences, insights, and behaviours.
A top priority right now is getting in front of customers and prospects at exactly the right moment, so you can educate them on how you can solve their problems, and provide solutions to their needs.
Whilst working remotely, it’s more important than ever to not just find and connect with people, but pinpoint the exact moment when engagement will be best received and most valued. To uncover this type of insight requires a much broader contextual view.
Artesian at Home Top Tip: Artesian helps you uncover new opportunities and people insights outside of Sales Navigator, build value into connections and InMail, improve engagements, and generally tackle remote sales challenges, by continually scanning millions of online sources for data on markets, organisations, individuals and topics.
Grow inbound sales
More people are spending more time than ever accessing online resources and social media. The opportunity to provide valuable information to your customers still exists.
In the absence of in-person sales, inbound sales is an extremely valuable and important lead generation and pipeline acceleration strategy – harnessing intelligence and insight to tailor the path the buyer takes to become your customer.
Digital sales tools providing deep insights on customer and market dynamics can help you target customers more effectively with the most appropriate messages at the optimum time.
Content and outreach that educates, informs, and inspire customers and prospects, whilst also building credibility and trust.
Artesian at Home Top Tip: Use the insight delivered by Artesian to create compelling content that weaves into the buyer’s context, and publish it on the platforms your potential customers use frequently. Likewise, our trigger events ensure you always know the best time and the most appropriate attention-grabbing ways to engage with customers and prospects. You can even do this directly from within the platform, for example by sending a congratulatory email or post, or view on a piece of news.
Remote working must not be a barrier to innovation
COVID-19 offers B2B companies a unique opportunity to innovate, because customer needs are evolving so rapidly and moving in such unexpected directions. Remote working must not be a barrier to that innovation.
If your business is considering a full or partial remote working strategy, then come and speak to us.
Artesian is working hard to help B2B sales and relationship managers navigate the impact of remote sales and customer experience delivery.